Philanthropist Cindy Simon Skjodt is donating $2 million to the Herron School of Art and Design’s Art Therapy Program, the school announced Thursday.
The gift will endow a chair in the program, which is based at IUPUI and was developed with cooperation from the Indiana University School of Medicine. The two-year, full-time residential program is the only one of its kind in Indiana.
Skjodt, the daughter of late shopping mall magnate Melvin Simon, is giving the donation through the Samerian Foundation, which she founded and leads.
Herron said the program “aligns with Simon Skjodt’s interest in therapeutic counseling, mental health and neurological research.” Of particular interest, she said, is the program’s work with military veterans.
The gift is expected to accelerate the establishment of art-therapy internships in central Indiana.
“Our goal is nothing less than moving Herron’s Art Therapy Program to the pinnacle nationally,” said Dean Valerie Eickmeier in a prepared statement announcing the donation. “We are deeply moved by Cindy Simon Skjodt’s vision and passion for this important work. Her gift will provide substantial, essential funding stability as this new program evolves, advancing the field of art therapy and making a practical difference in the lives people who are experiencing pain.”