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Indiana State University’s Board of Trustees approved the honorary naming of a campus street as “Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry Way,” recognizing the long and distinguished career of a Terre Haute native and ISU graduate. Dr. Perry, 92, was selected by three U.S. Presidents to represent the nation internationally. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan appointed her as Ambassador to Sierra Leone. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed her as Ambassador to Burundi. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed her to be U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank in Tunisia.

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and around the world, and represented our country with distinction in numerous capacities.” The street naming, Curtis said, “allows us to lift up the visibility of who comes and learns at Indiana State. We serve a population from all walks of life and Ambassador Perry is the embodiment of successful Sycamores who have gotten their start here and gone out and literally changed the world.” In an interview with the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Perry said, “I’m really, really truly honored that my hometown has thought to do this for me. I’m sure this doesn’t happen to many people.”

The honorary naming covers Fifth Street from Tippecanoe Street to Cherry Street. It is owned by ISU as part of an agreement with the City of Terre Haute in 2011. Appropriate signage will mark the honorary naming, but street addresses will not be changed because of public safety.

Perry grew up in the segregated community called the Lost Creek Settlement just outside Terre Haute. After graduating from high school in 1946, she married and started a family while also working in banking and for IBM, the computer hardware company. She later earned a scholarship to Indiana State, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1968.

“We’re proud to honor Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry, one of the most prominent people to come from Terre Haute and graduate from Indiana State University,” ISU President Dr. Deborah J. Curtis said. “She spent her career bringing people together in our nation

She went on to earn a doctorate in international education from the University of Massachusetts in 1972. As part of her doctoral program, she worked with former Peace Corps volunteers who had served in Africa to develop and test African Studies curricula for public schools to

STATE MAGAZINE

help improve race relations. Perry had a distinguished career in education, consulting, and diplomacy. She held prominent positions at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Nairobi in Kenya, Texas Southern University, and Texas Woman’s University. Dr. Perry was recognized with Indiana State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987, the same year she received the NAACP President’s Award. She also holds an honorary Doctorate for Public Service and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Massachusetts. In the Tribune-Star interview, Perry gave advice to college students at ISU and elsewhere. “I’ve been teaching now for a long, long time, and my message always to young people is to set a long-term goal, one that you can’t reach tomorrow, one that’s going to take you years to reach,” she said. Perry said students should have short-term goals as well “for good measure and to make you feel you are succeeding. Most people, young people especially, don’t try to think through to when they are going to be 70 years old and retiring. What do you want to be retiring from? And how do you get there?”


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