James R. Phillippe
Butler Medal, 1999
Professor Emeritus James R. Phillippe is synonymous with Butler
University and Indianapolis. From small-town beginnings in Dugger,
Ind., Jim has gone on to be an integral member of the Butler family
and has had a profound effect on the growth and advancement of the
University as well as the city of Indianapolis. Jim earned a
bachelor's degree from Indiana University and a master's from
Cornell University. He did doctoral studies at the University of
Illinois, Ohio State University and Indiana University, but it is
safe to say that Jim has a special place in his heart for
Jim's professional career started in Evansville as a radio
announcer. He then journeyed to Charleston, W.V., where he served
as an assistant director to the Kakawaka Players. After one year he
returned to broadcasting as a sports announcer for WSAZ in
While doing sports announcing, Jim was asked to teach a couple
of acting and speech classes at Marshall University. Hesitant at
first, he quickly discovered not only an ability to teach but a
love of the profession. At the end of that semester, he quit his
job as sports announcer. He and his wife returned to Indiana, and
that fall he founded Butler University's drama department, where he
established a four-year degree program in drama. From 1946 to 1964,
Jim served as the chairman of the department.
While serving as department chair, Jim also worked with WIRE
(now WMYS) as an announcer and with WRTV-6 as a part time producer
and director. This "real life" experience was shared by Jim in his
classroom at Butler.
A second phase of his Butler career started in 1965 when his
responsibilities shifted to chairman of the department of radio and
television and manager of WAJC radio station, a position he held
until 1986. There were 24 majors in the department when he became
chairman; upon his retirement, the department had grown to be the
largest department at Butler with 175 majors. Student radio
broadcasting on WAJC had increased from eight hours a day to 24,
and the power of the station increased from approximately 23,000 to
48,500 watts, doubling the coverage area. Jim was also instrumental
in obtaining the television license from the FCC. Under Jim's
leadership, graduates of the Department of Radio and Television
(who affectionately called "Jim Boss") have gone on to successful
professional telecommunication careers across the country.
Jim is considered one of the first broadcasting educators in the
state of Indiana. Besides touching the lives of numerous Butler
students under his mentorship, Jim is well-known in the
Indianapolis community for his announcing of the Indianapolis 500
race for 49 years. He has also called races for Penske at the
Michigan 500, the Cleveland Grand Prix and Nazareth, Penn.
Jim served as announcer at Butler basketball and football games
for over thirty years.
Jim was inducted into the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame in
1985. He has served as president, secretary and treasurer of the
Indiana Chapter of Broadcast Pioneers and the Indiana Broadcasters
Foundation and continues to hold offices in both groups as well as
the Indiana Broadcasters Association. He is active as an Emcee and
speaker throughout Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
As the recipient of the Butler Medal, Jim is recognized for his
ceaseless service to the community as well. He served as an officer
at the Scottish Rite and is a 33 degree Mason. He is director of
the Dramatic Cast of the Shrine and a member of the Royal Order of
Jesters. He is a Kentucky Colonel and a Chief Adept of the Indiana
College of Societatis Rosicruciana.
Jim has been honored with a Sagamore of the Wabash.
Jim and his wife, Peggy, have two children, Jamie '73 and Jimmy