Dedication ceremony for Harper Hall scheduled for Tuesday

by William G. Gilroy

Harper Hall

A dedication ceremony for Harper Hall, the new home of the Mike and Josie Harper Research Institute, a novel collaboration between the University of Notre Dame and the Indiana University School of Medicine, will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday (March 8).

Harper Hall contains 55,000 square feet of office and research laboratory space and is located adjacent to Raclin-Carmichael Hall, home of the IU School of Medicine, South Bend, on the corner of Angela Boulevard and Notre Dame Avenue.

The Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Center will include Notre Dame and Indiana School of Medicine faculty and faculty with cancer research programs housed in other research buildings on the Notre Dame campus and in Raclin-Carmichael Hall. Scientists from both institutions will collaborate on research in cancer biology, with an emphasis on such areas as genomics and proteomics, and breast, prostate and colon cancers.

Part of the funding for Harper Hall came from the family foundation of Charles M. “Mike” Harper, a former South Bend resident and the retired chair and chief executive officer of ConAgra Foods. Harper made a $10 million contribution to Notre Dame to support its cancer research programs and the gift was matched with a $10 million appropriation from the state of Indiana to Indiana University for the project.

The dedication ceremony will include an invocation and remarks by Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and remarks by Indiana University President Michael McRobbie; B. Patrick Bauer, minority leader of the Indiana House of Representatives; D. Craig Brater, dean and Walter J. Daly Professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and vice president for university clinical affairs at IU; Rudolph M. Navari, assistant dean and director, Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend and clinical director of the Harper Cancer Institute; M. Sharon Stack, science director, Harper Cancer Institute; and Mike Harper.

Born in Lansing, Mich., and raised in South Bend, Harper earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Purdue University and his master of business administration degree from the University of Chicago.

His professional career began at General Mills Corp., where he worked for five years as an engineer. He then spent 20 years working for Pillsbury Corp. in Minneapolis, leaving as group vice president responsible for poultry and food service businesses.

When Harper became chief operating officer and executive vice president of ConAgra in 1974, the company’s annual sales totaled approximately $700 million. When he retired as chair and CEO in 1992, sales had increased to more than $20 billion, making ConAgra the nation’s second largest food company.

Harper came out of retirement in 1993 to serve for three years as chair and CEO of RJR Nabisco.

Harper previously established at Notre Dame the Lou Holtz Leadership Scholarship Endowment, earnings from which cover the majority of costs of a senior at the University who exemplifies the qualities of a strong leader.