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King to play transitional role at state museum

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Gov. Mitch Daniels wants a new organizational chart at the Indiana State Museum, which has seen five different CEOs since 2000.

Thomas A. King, appointed today as the museum’s interim CEO, said he will begin tackling the reorganization first thing. He’ll also try to build up the museum’s fund-raising base, recruit board members, and ultimately, find his replacement.

King, the former president of the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, was recruited out of semi-retirement, where he’s been consulting on fund raising and economic development.

King’s appointment was confirmed Thursday afternoon by the museum foundation’s board of directors. He expects to stay on the job about a year.

Board President Bill Browne said the museum’s governance structure, which has been tweaked in the past, continues to hinder its progress. The private foundation hires the CEO, who then oversees a staff that’s on the payroll of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The CEO also answers to a state-appointed board of museum trustees.

“It really has been the thing that’s caused all this change in leadership,” Browne said.

Browne said a task force will come up with a new governance blueprint by year-end.

The most recent museum CEO, Barry Dressel, was recruited from the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Michigan. He resigned abruptly in October after two years in the position.

King acknowledged that he doesn’t know anything about the museum business. Reading from the state museum’s mission statement at a press conference today, he said, “As a proud son of Indiana, I like the idea of being associated with something like that, especially at this stage in my life.”

King's appointment comes at a crucial time for museum operations. In February, the museum will open a high-profile Abe Lincoln collection. In the long term, the museum needs to make up for declining state funding and boost attendance.

State funding for the museum, $5.96 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, has fallen 21.5 percent since 2007. The marketing budget, meanwhile, was down 50 percent, to $205,000, over the same period.

King said state funding needs to remain proportionate to the foundation’s private fund-raising. “This is a partnership, and that’s part of the governance puzzle--making sure it stays a partnership,” he said.

King retired as president of the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation in March 2005 and started his own consulting firm, focused on philanthropy, economic development and marketing. He's also a former president of Walker Research.

"He's well-respected," said Dave Sternberg, a local fund-raising consultant. "He's a bright guy. He knows a lot of people. He's probably a great choice."

King also served as vice president of corporate affairs for IPALCO Enterprises Inc. in the early 1990s. He's past chairman of the board of directors of Goodwill Enterprises of Central Indiana  Inc. and of Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis.

He is board chairman of The Indy Partnership and chairman-elect of the board of the Indiana Sports Corp.
 

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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