In recognition of her remarkable service to the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana as Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, in honor of her longstanding service to the IUPUI campus as a member of the IUPUI Board of Advisors, and in gratitude for her leadership on civic, educational and cultural matters, including service on the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, Judge Sarah Evans Barker received an IUPUI 50th Anniversary Chancellor’s Medallion. Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar presented the medallion to Judge Barker during IUPUI Commencement on May 11, 2019.
Deemed a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society, Judge Barker was appointed to the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana in 1984 by President Reagan. Prior to that appointment, Judge Barker served as United States attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, and, earlier, as an associate and partner at the Indianapolis law firm of Bose, McKinney & Evans.
Judge Barker was born in Mishawaka and graduated from Mishawaka High School before enrolling at Indiana University. While earning her Bachelor of Science degree, she also played on the championship intramural softball team and participated in Sycamore Hall’s winning IU Sing performance. In 1969, she earned her law degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and sharpened her legal skills on Capitol Hill working for Representative Gilbert Gude and Senator Charles Percy before returning to Indiana. Barker has been Indiana’s “first woman” in at least three roles: the first to be appointed assistant U.S. attorney in 1972, the first to be named federal judge in 1984, and the first to be named chief judge in 1994.
At IUPUI, Judge Barker helped create the Bepko Scholars and Fellows Program, and she has served on the IUPUI Board of Advisors and the Bloomington School of Law’s Board of Visitors. She received the IU Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1996 and the Thomas J. Hennessy Distinguished Alumni Award from the Halls of Residence Alumni Association in 1995. Judge Barker also is a recipient of the Trailblazer Award given by the Indiana Commission for Women and the Silver Gavel presented by the Indianapolis Bar Association. She has been awarded 10 honorary degrees from midwestern colleges and universities.
In addition to her distinguished judicial career, Judge Barker is also involved in civic, educational and cultural organizations, including the Indiana Bicentennial Commission and the board of directors of Indiana University Health, Inc. She is a founder and serves on the executive board of The Gathering, a group of prominent Indiana women leaders.