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The GC of Indiana University is Driven by the Hoosier Spirit
For Jacqueline "Jackie" Simmons, landing the job as vice president and general counsel at Indiana University was a dream come true. Not only is Simmons both an alumnus and adjunct professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, but all three of her children are graduates of IU.
When Simmons applied to be general counsel at her alma mater, she already had some idea of what the job would entail, through her working relationship with Dorothy Flapwell, who had served as IU's general counsel for 36 years. "I'd served on the board of visitors with Dottie. I'd also done some environmental work for the university," says Simmons, whose previous legal work for IU was related to the construction of new buildings. "Since taking the job, I've had the opportunity to talk with Dottie about issues such as funding. She's also volunteered to continue advising me going forward."
Given the size of IU, a little guidance from an institutional veteran like Flapwell will come in handy. Indiana University enrolls more than 100,000 students, and has eight separate campuses throughout the state. As GC, Simmons will oversee a team of eight lawyers, as well as four additional staff members. Her team will handle such issues as athletics, compliance, internal audit reports, and investigations. She will also report to the president and the board of trustees.
And Simmons will have to navigate higher education's hot-button issues, such as the rising costs of college and questions about affirmative action in the admissions process. "Compliance issues will be a challenge as we see more regulations that are affecting higher education. Also, as we see more pressure on the cost of education, we must be careful not to react with cost-cutting measures that reduce the quality of education," says Simmons.
This is not Simmons's first in-house gig. Prior to becoming a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels's Indianapolis office, she served as vice president and general manager at chemicals company Reilly Industries Inc. Simmons says she's thrilled to be moving back in-house. "I like being a part of a team where you see your decisions affect an institution. As a private lawyer, you're handling cases in which you don't always see the outcome."
In addition to teaching international environmental law at IU, Simmons is a founding member of Indiana University's Women's Philanthropy Council. This year the organization, though only two years old, reached its $1 million mark in funding and awarded six grants for projects created by members of the Indiana University community that were aimed at bettering the school.
A native of South Bend, Indiana, Simmons is also excited about supporting Hoosiers athletics. "I'm a big sports fan, especially Indiana University basketball. This year, I'll be going to a lot more games," she says.