By: Annie McMindes, Vincennes Sun Commercial
A new scholarship for Vincennes University students in memory of Sigma Pi Honorary Grand Sage Jim L. Hills will open new funds for local college students.
Hills, who died last month, joined the fraternity at the University of Maryland in 1948, launching a 66-year relationship with the organization. Throughout his membership, Hills held numerous national positions, including one that brought him to Vincennes in 1963.
“He has been instrumental with the local chapter, he has spent 60-plus years in the organization, and he’s been a significant influence on the organization as a whole,” said VU alumni association director Jennifer Gilmore. “He came to Vincennes after holding several other national positions, and actually facilitated the move of the headquarters to Vincennes many, many years ago.”
In the 1960s, Hills played a vital role in re-establishing the fraternity’s Alpha chapter at Vincennes University after a 55-year hiatus, Gilmore said. He was instrumental in the construction of the current chapter house on Second Street, and helped to raise the funds and building the Sigma Pi Clock Tower on the VU campus in commemoration of the centennial of the Fraternity’s founding nationally and at the university.
The street behind the university is named in Hills’ honor, as well.
Gilmore said Hills’ family is spread throughout the country, but because of the leader’s commitment and passion for the Vincennes community, the scholarship will remain local.
“He helped to start the Alpha chapter back up which was founded here at VU, and started the Alpha alumni chapter, so when the opportunity came to leave, he chose not to, he stayed in Vincennes,” she said. “He was always at the house and he was a leader and a friend to all of the members for generations, so the family decided they wanted to do something in his memory for the students here at Vincennes.”
President of the VU Foundation Bumper Hostetler said the award will allow Hills to continue establishing an influence to the future generations of Sigma Pi brothers.
“This scholarship, in memory and honor of Jim, is a positive reflection upon his dedication to the Sigma Pi fraternity, to the generations of fraternity brothers he influenced and to his commitment to higher education,” Hostetler said. “We are grateful to the members of Sigma Pi Fraternity Alumni Association Alpha Chapter and to Jim’s family for their efforts and support in establishing this scholarship to recognize the many years of service given by one of the most respected Sigma Pi brothers.”
The scholarship is expected to be awarded to a local humanitarian annually. Gilmore said the only requirements for the scholarship dictate the recipient of the Sigma Pi fraternity and a current VU student.
“It can go to a traditional or non-traditional student, someone who is attending classes part-time or full-time, majoring in any field,” she explained. “It’s definitely one of our more open-ended scholarships, which makes awarding it a lot easier.
“Students will just have to fill out our general scholarship application and on that they’ll then let us know they are a member of the Sigma Pi fraternity,” she added. “Then we’ll narrow down the candidates from there.”
Funding for the award is ongoing, she said. Additional information regarding the scholarship, and information on how to support the scholarship, is available by contacting the VU Foundation at 812-888-4510.
You can read more about the James L. Hills Memorial Scholarship here.
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