Alumni & Parent Programs

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 Butler.

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 Huntington, W.V.

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 '77.

Updated 1999