Rose-Hulman Mourning Loss of Former Visionary Administrator Jim Eifert

Sunday, June 21, 2020
Jim Eifert

Jim Eifert was a visionary institute leader as vice president for academic affairs and later as the founding president of Rose-Hulman Ventures.

The Rose-Hulman community is mourning the Sunday, June 21, death of visionary administrator Jim Eifert, who served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty for 16½ years (1981-1997) and founding president of Rose-Hulman Ventures for its first six years. He also was a dedicated and popular mechanical engineering professor who earned the Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 1977.

Eifert also spent two years (2007-09) as president of the Indiana Venture Center and since early 2009 had been a managing partner with Innoventure Associates, working with a variety of enterprises throughout Indiana, including the University of Notre Dame, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1965.

“Visionary leadership may best describe Jim,” said Rose-Hulman President Robert Coons in announcing Eifert’s death to the campus community. “He epitomized the virtues of our mission and vision statements: providing our students with the world's best undergraduate STEM education in an environment of individual attention and support while inspiring our graduates for lives of purpose and success. Jim’s entrepreneurial spirit is spread throughout our curriculum and, I believe, Rose becoming the nation’s recognized leader in undergraduate science, engineering and mathematics education is due in large part to Jim’s significant efforts.”

After stepping away from his full-time Rose-Hulman administrative duties in 1997, Eifert helped forge the institute’s relationship with Japan’s Kanazawa Institute of Technology, as a visiting vice president. He then became an educational consultant with the F.W. Olin Foundation, helping establish the Olin College of Engineering in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1999, Eifert returned to Rose-Hulman to help write the successful Lilly Endowment Inc. grant that funded the formation of Rose-Hulman Ventures. He led and nurtured the enterprise as president for the first six years of its existence. Nearly 20 years later, RHV has had more than 1,250 student interns, produced innovative lifesaving projects for clients throughout the country, and become a self-sustaining model for higher education-business technology partnerships.

Rose-Hulman provost and vice president for academic affairs Rick Stamper said, “Jim Eifert retired nearly 15 years ago, but his legacy is still felt every day by the institute’s faculty, staff and, most importantly, by our students. Through the leadership of Jim Eifert and others, today our students enjoy the benefits of Rose-Hulman Ventures, Olin Hall, the Olin Advanced Learning Center, all the curricular innovations that flowed from the Foundation Coalition, and a student-focused academic culture. I marvel at all that Jim accomplished and appreciate the foundation that he built for Rose-Hulman’s future.”

A mass of Christian burial for Eifert is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Indianapolis, with family and friends. To help celebrate his life, but reduce the need for people to travel and account for the required physical distancing at church, the mass will be live-streamed over the internet, recorded, and posted to the parish website. The family will provide details about the Livestream at a later date.