Adviser. Mentor. Friend. Teacher. Leader.
Catherine Barnes earned all of those titles in her career at Indiana University Kokomo. As she prepares to retire this December, she knows which word she wants to be used when people remember her.
“I am a servant leader,” Barnes said in a press release. “When I came to this institution, it was to serve the population of this community, students, faculty, staff and the people of Kokomo. I come from a long line of servants.”
For 17 years, Barnes has been an integral part of the campus community, first leading diversity programs and then becoming a trailblazer in academic advising. She believes in the power of higher education to change lives and works to make sure IU Kokomo students achieve their dreams.
Barnes has been a devoted champion of students during her career, according to IUK Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke.
“Whenever I am out in the community, parents and students stop me and thank me for Cathy Barnes,” Sciame-Giesecke said. “They talk about how supportive she is of each and every student she serves. Her energy and enthusiasm for IU Kokomo and our students is contagious. We will miss her and wish her the best in her retirement.”
A Kokomo native, Barnes married and moved to Los Angeles, where she and her husband owned and operated four pharmacies after graduating from Purdue. The family returned to Kokomo when her father passed away “to be a blessing to the grandparents” by bringing their four young children to live closer.
Shortly after the move, Barnes struck up a conversation with Herbert Miller, an IU Kokomo faculty member, at the Carver Community Center’s summer celebration. He urged her to apply for an open job on campus as director of campus climate.
“That was my point of entry at IU Kokomo,” Barnes said.