The Skylight Dedication Ceremony

Celebrating the Legacy of Christel DeHaan: The Skylight Dedication Ceremony

August 27, 2021
Lecture Hall, Room 105
Indianapolis, Indiana


Thank you, Greg, and good evening everyone.
It’s wonderful to be here together to celebrate and dedicate The Skylight, which honors the memory of Christel DeHaan, a great friend of the IUPUI campus.

I would like to add my words of welcome to Christel’s family as well as to representatives of the DeHaan Family Foundation.
And Greg, Leena, and Melynne, thank you so much for your remarks.* 

Bringing People Together and Creating Opportunity

If you know Christel—and many of you do—you probably have a memorable story about her. I have several.

I vividly recall our conversations about world politics, art, and—one of my favorite topics—education. She was so passionate about strengthening education in Indianapolis that we exchanged emails regularly about teacher recommendations for Christel House. She wanted only the best for her students.

In so many ways, Christel always saw the bigger picture, brought people together, and created opportunities for them to shine. The Skylight is a perfect example.

The Skylight will serve as a bright spot on this campus where students can meet up, gaze up into the beautiful and limitless sky, and get a glimpse of their futures.

IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar

The Landscape of Public Art at IUPUI

This beautiful sculpture is joining the rich and changing landscape of public art that adorns the IUPUI campus. With many of the works created by members of the Herron community, we have given students—past and present—a hand in shaping  the campus’s public identity.

As you heard from Leena, those artists have taken this responsibility very seriously, with works of art honoring Madam C. J. Walker, representing the hope of cancer survivors, remembering the tragic loss of 9-11, and much more.

Our public art reflects our values. It tells our campus story and our personal stories.

I’m delighted that we added a new chapter to those stories two days ago when we unveiled the fierce and intelligent IUPUI Jaguar statue in Hine Hall Courtyard. The Skylight extends those ongoing stories even further.

Seeds of the Project

The seeds of this project grew out of our campus’s 50th Anniversary celebration.  We wanted to create a signature artwork to mark that wonderful milestone.

To involve students at every stage, we decided to create a sculpture competition. 

You’ve heard a little bit about the students involved and the process.

Let me add that I’ve had many experiences as chancellor, but seeing the original designs submitted in this competition was one of the most interesting.

One proposed design glowed in the dark and was based on fireflies.  Another spelled IUPUI with raised garden beds.  And a third was a bench made of recycled wood.

Leena Dobouni, Karrie Leamon, and Anastaza Halsema actually originally submitted three different designs and worked to merge their ideas into the cohesive whole that you can see outside.

Remembering a Legacy and Glimpsing the Future

I am delighted that when I look out the window from the 5th floor of University Hall, I can see this sculpture beaming up at me. It brings back all of my fond memories of  Christel—our conversations, her dedication to others, and the contributions she has made both here and all over the world.

This piece will always remind me of Christel’s legacy and the role all of us play in changing lives and making the future better by educating people.

The Skylight will serve as a bright spot on this campus where students can meet up—meet up at The Skylight—gaze up into the beautiful and limitless sky, and get a glimpse of their futures.

The Dedication

Now comes the time for the formal dedication.
Will everyone who is able please rise?
By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Trustees of Indiana University, I dedicate this sculpture and commend it as a landmark on the IUPUI campus for the enjoyment and inspiration of future generations.
May all who pass by, or pause to reflect there, bring still greater contributions to the advancement of knowledge, the spirit of learning and creativity, and the abiding sense of community that define IUPUI.
Please join me in celebrating the dedication of this wonderful sculpture made possible by the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation.
Thank you all.

* Interim Dean of the IUPUI Herron School of Art and Design Greg Hull, Herron graduate Leena Dobouni, and Melynne Klaus, board member and director of the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, also spoke at The Skylight dedication ceremony.


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