VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University President Dick Helton issued this statement Monday about the death of Dr. Phillip M. Summers on Sept. 29.
“Phil Summers was one of the great leaders in Indiana higher education. He served VU with great distinction for 21 years as president, from 1980 to 2001 - a period of tremendous campus expansion and modernization at the Vincennes and Jasper campuses as well as the development of the Aviation Technology Center in Indianapolis. His presidency also included the extension of University programs statewide and throughout the world through VU’s Military Education Program. Beginning in 1965 he served VU in multiple administrative capacities and he always enjoyed teaching psychology, including throughout his presidency; a role that he expanded upon his retirement as president in 2001 when he began also teaching at Indiana University. His legacy will live on in the students he served, through VU’s Phillip M. Summers Center where he taught, and through his leadership in the development of the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center, conceived during his presidency, and the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy, which opened July 18, thanks in large measure to his tireless leadership. On a personal note, Phil was a friend and colleague who I looked to for wise counsel during my presidency. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.”
Phillip M. Summers was born in Washington on Aug. 23, 1939. He attended Vincennes University, completed B.S. and M.S. degrees at Indiana University, and earned a Ph.D. in Guidance and Psychological Services at Indiana State University in 1974.
He began his career in education as a teacher and guidance counselor at Springs Valley High School in French Lick in 1960 and also served as director of Guidance at Brazil City Schools.
Summers returned to VU in 1965 as director of Financial Aid and Student Activities. He served in a variety of VU administrative positions, including Dean of Students, Director of Student Services, and Director of Community Services, while also serving as a professor of Psychology.