About 190 laughed during hours of stories about the boisterous James Helms, Ivy Tech Community College Southeast Region chancellor emeritus, during an April 5 retirement dinner at the Batesville Knights of Columbus Hall.
A formally dressed Mayor Rick Fledderman said, “I couldn’t find the red coat” former principal Helms wore to all of the East Central High School home basketball games. “Could it be Jim Helms is a black tie kind of guy?” He reported the honoree certainly brought “black tie educational opportunities to southeastern Indiana over a career that spans decades. We’ll be troasting – toasting and roasting – Jim Helms tonight.”
John Murphy, Ivy Tech Foundation president, read an ITCC state board resolution about Helms’ achievements that earned him the distinguished emeritus designation. He assisted the college in some capacity for 37 years, serving on its Southeast Region board from 1976-98 and as chancellor since 2000. During that time, enrollment has ballooned from 500 to over 5,000 and Helms helped create new facilities in Batesville, Madison and Lawrenceburg. Astonishingly, “over $20 million has been raised to support the region’s efforts.”
Murphy added that Helms has been appointed to the foundation’s board of directors for a three-year term.
According to Ivy Tech President Emeritus Gerald Lamkin, “Jim, from the very beginning you were the perfect fit for this area. I’m very, very proud of the job you’ve done.”
Master of ceremonies Al Huntington, an Ivy Tech Foundation board member and former Madison mayor, asked, “What can you say about a man who is admired, revered and loved by everyone?” He joked with his friend, “We hit it off right away because we bought our clothes at the Big and Tall store. You because you’re so big and me because I’m so tall.”
Huntington recalled when the former Cincinnati Bengals pregame and halftime announcer attended Hanover College, a classroom of students was asked, “‘How many of you were in the top 10 of your class?’” Helms truthfully raised his hand. There were only 10 in his class at Franklin County High School.