John Chambers: Internet Pioneer
When the internet was ascending from a niche service to a household utility, John T. Chambers headed up software company Cisco Systems as its executive chairman and CEO. He is credited with steering the company into becoming a global technological giant, growing annual revenues from $70 million to $40 billion over his 20 years at the company (1995–2015). Chambers’ predilection for the business of technology began right after he earned his M.B.A in finance and management from the IU School of Business in 1975. He began his career as a computer salesman at IBM before moving on to Wang Computers, where he became vice president of U.S. operations.
He now serves as chairman emeritus of Cisco Systems and is a member of the board of directors of Quantum Metric, a Colorado-based digital development company. —Tracy Zollinger Turner
Bob Chapek: Disney CEO
Hammond, Indiana-born Bob Chapek grew up vacationing at Disney World. Just last year, he became the CEO of the entire Disney mass media and entertainment conglomerate, perhaps an unexpected destiny for a man who, in the late 1970s, focused on microbiology as an undergraduate at IU.
He later earned his M.B.A. from Michigan State University, then worked for the H.J. Heinz Company and advertising firm J. Walter Thompson before joining Disney as the Buena Vista Home Entertainment division’s marketing director in 1993.
Over the last three decades, Hammond headed up Disney’s consumer products, then parks and resorts—overseeing their largest expansion in the company’s history—before he became CEO, right at the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic. —Tracy Zollinger Turner
Suzanne Collins: Hunger Games Author
Suzanne Collins is the author of The New York Times Best-Selling The Hunger Games trilogy and its recently released prequel, Songbirds and Snakes. Together, the books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.
A 1985 IU graduate with a double major in telecommunications and theater, Collins got her start writing for children’s television. She worked on several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy- nominated Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. The first book in her first young adult series, The Underland Chronicles (also a NYT Best Seller), was released in 2003.
Collins and her husband, Charles Pryor, have established an IU scholarship for undergraduate students majoring in theater and drama. Pryor is also an alum of the school’s theater program. The couple met at IU. —Carmen Siering
Laverne Cox: Actor & LGBTQ+ Advocate
Laverne Cox is probably most recognized for her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. In 2014, that character was named “the most dynamic transgender character in history” by Time magazine.
Cox is the first transgender woman to star in a mainstream TV drama and the first to receive a Primetime Emmy nomination. In 2014 she was included in the annual Root 100, a list that honors Black “leaders, innovators, and culture shapers” age 45 and younger. In 2018 she received
the Claire Skiffington Vanguard Award from the Transgender
Law Center for her work for the transgender community.
Cox, 49, attended IU for two years before transferring to Marymount Manhattan College, where she graduated with a B.F.A. in dance. —Carmen Siering
Mark Cuban: Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur extraordinaire Mark Cuban, 63, is worth more than $4 billion, placing him 655th on Forbes magazine’s 2021 World’s Billionaires List. A Pittsburgh native, Cuban worked his way through college by providing disco lessons, among other endeavors, and graduated from the IU School of Business in 1981 with a B.S. in marketing.
In 1995, Cuban and fellow IU alum Todd Wagner started broadcast.com, then sold it four years later to Yahoo for $5.7 billion. Cuban now owns the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and is a “shark” investor on the reality television
show Shark Tank. He also owns film distributor Magnolia Pictures, started the Fallen Patriot Fund, and has written two books, among countless other endeavors.
Cuban gifted IU Athletics $5 million in 2005 to create the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology. —Rodney Margison
Dick Enberg: Sportscaster
Dick Enberg earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in health and physical education at IU in the early 1960s, but a class in sports broadcasting, followed by announcing gigs for the Little 500 bicycle race and Hoosier basketball and football, ended up defining his career.
Enberg worked as a sportscaster
for six decades, beginning on a local Los Angeles station, then gradually stepping up to NBC Sports, CBS Sports, and ESPN before settling back into play-by-play broadcasting for the San Diego Padres.
A prosaic broadcaster who waxed poetic in television essays in his later years, his signature line was “Oh, my!”— also the title of his 2004 biography. He died in 2017 at age 82. —Tracy Zollinger Turner
Janie Fricke: Singer
Born in South Whitley, Indiana, singer Janie Fricke is a 1972 graduate of IU, where she was a member of the Singing Hoosiers. She got her professional start singing commercial jingles, most notably for Coca-Cola and Red Lobster (“Red Lobster, for the seafood lover in you.”).
Moving to Nashville, Tennessee, Fricke joined the Lea Jane Singers, a vocal ensemble that backed
up some of the biggest names in country music. By age 30, she was one of Nashville’s most sought- after backup singers. By the 1980s, she was dominating the charts
and winning awards, such as her back-to-back Female Vocalist of the Year wins from the Country Music Association in 1982 and 1983. Fricke is still active in the music industry and lives with her family in Texas. —Carmen Siering