June 20, 2018

Judge Sarah Evans Barker Portrait Unveiling and Dedication

Indiana Memorial Union East Lounge

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the unveiling and dedication of the official portrait of Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Judge Barker is one of Indiana’s most respected jurists and citizens, and a much-treasured alumna of Indiana University.

I’m delighted to see so many friends of Judge Barker’s and of Indiana University here with us today. Among those here today are several current and former campus and university leaders and deans, who have worked with and known Judge Barker throughout her time at IU and career. I want to thank you collectively for being here.

I want to particularly welcome Congressman Lee Hamilton and thank him as well for his service to the state of Indiana and to the nation. Please join me in welcoming Congressman Hamilton.

I also want to thank IU’s wonderful Curator of Campus Art, Sherry Rouse. Sherry could not be here today, but it’s important to note that she has been the driving force behind this exhibit that has added so much to the life and spirit of IU. However, her colleague and assistant curator, Katie Chattin, is here and of course she has also worked tirelessly on what you see all around you. Please join me in thanking Sherry and Katie.

And I’d like to especially welcome someone who was quite instrumental in today’s gathering – the artist for this portrait, Gina Rogers. Gina is joined by her husband, Brad Rogers, and we welcome you as well.

Finally, I want to extend a very warm welcome to several members of the Barker Family who are with us today, including her husband, Ken Barker; her daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Brian Yeley; her grandchildren Anna, Simon, and Liza; and her sister, Margie Miller.

Please join me in welcoming the Barker family.



Several years ago, thanks to the vision and support of Provost Lauren Robel and campus art curator Sherry Rouse, this wonderful portrait gallery of women of Indiana University that you see all around us was created and dedicated.

Many of the portraits you see here were hanging in other parts of this campus and on other campuses, but many more were stashed away in storage.  They depict women whose names you almost certainly know, like Elinor Ostrom, long-time Political Science faculty member, co-founder of the Ostrom Workshop and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics; and Frances Marshall, the first African-American woman to graduate from IU, from the Nursing School.  But other faces and stories are not well known, and through this gallery we can introduce them to the many students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors who pass through this space. When President’s Hall in Franklin Hall was renovated and the presidential portraits that used to hang here were moved there, a wonderful opportunity to bring these images into the light opened up.

Portraits tell stories, of the women depicted, of the time and place they made their mark on Indiana University, and of the artists who captured their images and personalities.  Each one is a window into the history of IU.  And by assembling these portraits of IU women, we are also filling in some gaps in the university’s historical record. 

Women have been part of Indiana University for just over 150 years; it was in May of 1867 that Sarah Parke Morrison walked into her first class at IU, taking her place alongside her male classmates.  But we have not always been attentive to honoring the contributions that women have made to the life and spirit of IU, and to its excellence as an institution of higher learning. 

Due in part to historical traditions around things like building namings, the preferences of individual women, and a degree of benign neglect, we don’t see the names or images of very many women memorialized on the campuses of Indiana University, despite their majority status in the alumni community and in the student body. 

With the university’s bicentennial approaching in two years, however, we have a wonderful opportunity to close this visibility gap, and to bring the stories of Hoosier women into the light.  Portraits are one way for us to do this, and through the way the women in these portraits look out at us, we are invited into their stories. 

And today, we are invited into Sarah Evans Barker’s story.

Many of you know the headlines of her extraordinary biography, but perhaps less about the many ways in which she has enriched civic life and served as a role model for many many others, male and female, inside and outside of the legal profession.   

Judge Sarah Evans Barker was appointed to the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, and has been active in numerous judicial and bar-related organizations throughout her career.

Prior to her appointment, Judge Barker was United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, and, earlier, an associate and partner at the Indianapolis law firm of Bose, McKinney & Evans. She began her legal career as legislative assistant to Senator Charles H. Percy in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her distinguished judicial career, Judge Barker is also involved in civic, educational, cultural, and religious organizations, including the Indiana Bicentennial Commission and the Board of Directors of Indiana University Health, Inc.

She is a founder and serves on the executive board of The Gathering, a group of prominent Indiana women leaders and one of several points of connection that I have with Sarah – she sponsored me for membership in the group, and it has been a wonderful way to connect with others beyond Indiana University.

Judge Barker also previously served on the Boards of Conner Prairie, Spirit and Place, Christian Theological Seminary, and the Indiana Historical Society.

I could go on, but I want to single out one of the most important roles that Judge Barker plays, and that is to swear in new citizens of the United States in a culminating celebration of their journey to naturalization.  It’s a role that has particular meaning for me. 

Sarah swore in my husband, Michael, and my three stepchildren, Josephine, Lucien and Arabella, as American citizens in 2010. 

Her words that day echoed what she says to every new citizen, words that I believe are particularly important in our current moment.  And I want to share some of those words with you, from an article published in the New Yorker magazine in December of 2016.

The article singled out Judge Barker for her welcoming words to 68 new citizens that she swore in in November of that year, shortly after the 2016 election.

She said:

“I welcome you today to your new life as citizens of the United States, and remind you in the clearest words I know to say to you: You are welcome here! You are welcome here! Now it is up to you to assume the important responsibilities of citizenship, which means to join the struggle to make this country as good and kind and just and welcoming as you imagined and hoped and perhaps prayed that it would be when you first embarked on your journey to become a citizen. I say again, you are welcome here. Don’t ever forget that, and if anyone ever challenges you on that, you tell them Judge Barker said so on this day you became a citizen.”

Introduction of Provost Robel

It is now my great pleasure to welcome to the podium, Lauren Robel, Executive Vice President of Indiana University and Provost of the Bloomington campus. Please join me in welcoming Provost Robel.


Portrait Unveiling

We now come to the central moment in today’s dedication ceremony, the unveiling of Judge Barker’s portrait. I’d like to invite Judge Barker’s grandchildren, Anna, Simon, and Liza, to the podium to assist with the unveiling.


Introduction of Judge Barker

I’d now like to invite Judge Sarah Evans Barker to the podium to share her remarks.



And so we have come to the close of this wonderful occasion. I hope you will join us for a reception here in the East Lounge to celebrate the significance of Judge Barker’s career and the lasting legacy she has created at Indiana University.

Thank you once again for joining us today.