Indiana Philanthropy Award goes to VU Alumnus Bernie Niehaus

Bernie Niehaus headshot

November 29, 2023

VINCENNES, Ind. - Bernie Niehaus, an esteemed alumnus of Vincennes University, is honored with the prestigious Indiana Philanthropy Award - Outstanding Philanthropist for his immense contributions to philanthropy and community development.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals – Indiana Chapter honored Niehaus, pictured above, with the award.

The chairman and retired CEO of Niehaus Lumber believes in living a life of service. “I am sure that many of you, just as myself, have found the more you give, the more you receive,” he says.

VU Foundation Executive Director Kristi Deetz, Kevin Pratt, Patty Niehaus, VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson and Leslie Kidwell, VU Foundation Director of Development.

Niehaus was nominated by the Vincennes University Foundation and Alumni Association due to fostering positive changes within the community. “His unwavering support and generosity have significantly impacted numerous charitable initiatives, embodying the spirit of altruism and service,” said Kristi Deetz, VU’s Executive Director of the Foundation.

Niehaus, an alumnus whose roots in Vincennes University run deep, has consistently demonstrated a profound dedication to enhancing the lives of others through his philanthropic endeavors. His leadership, vision, and unwavering support have played a pivotal role in advancing numerous charitable causes within the region.

Vincennes University President Dr. Chuck Johnson expressed gratitude for Niehaus's achievements, stating, "Bernie Niehaus epitomizes the values and ethos we aim to instill in our alumni. His commitment to philanthropy and community development truly reflect the spirit of Vincennes University."

His philanthropic impact includes serving as president of the VU Alumni Association in 1963-64. In 1969 he helped in the founding of the Construction Technology program. In 1970, Bernie joined the Board of Trustees and served for 24 years, including four years as its chair in the 1990s. He chaired VU’s Third Century Excellence Fund campaign in the early 2000s which raised more than $10 million dollars. He was bestowed an honorary doctorate from VU in 2007 and is currently a member of the VU Foundation Board of Directors, which he formally served as chairman. His endowed scholarship fund has played the essential role of changing numerous students’ lives and will continue to provide generations of students a future of endless possibilities. 

VU is just one of the many organizations whose mission has been advanced thanks to the philanthropy of Niehaus. Too many to list, but to name a few, Saint Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary, Indiana Military Museum, Knox County Community Development Corp., Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy, and participation in Relay for Life and Habitat for Humanity builds adds to this extensive list. 

The Indiana Philanthropy Award, a testament to Niehaus's contributions, stands as a symbol of recognition for his tireless efforts and commitment to making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

About Vincennes University: Vincennes University, Indiana’s First College is a renowned institution committed to providing accessible and high-quality education while nurturing individuals to become leaders in their communities.

Indiana Philanthropy Awards Overview: The Association of Fundraising Professionals – Indiana Chapter (AFP-IC) fosters the growth of development of philanthropy, the fundraising profession, the chapter, and its individual members. AFP-IC annually hosts the Indiana Philanthropy Awards to honor and recognize individuals, groups, organizations, and corporations in Indiana who have enhanced philanthropy and the community through their dedicated efforts, time, leadership, passion, and generosity. These awards are given in recognition to those whose lifetime or long-term achievements have made a significant impact on our state or a local community through one or more charitable organizations.

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