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By Gracie Phillips, KVML 2020 Summer Intern

The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) kicked off its second virtual graduation party once again with a warm welcome and an introduction from KVML CEO and Founder Julia Whitehead, followed by an introduction and a few words from Dan Simon of Seven Stories Press.

KVML CEO Julia Whitehead introduces the readers and supporters at Tuesday’s ceremony.

Special guests for Tuesday evening’s ceremony included novelist Russell Banks, journalist David Brancaccio, and novelist and playwright Kia Corthron, who took turns reading from Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement speech, “Don’t Forget Where You Come From” as well as two other short commentaries. The speeches are included in a new paperback collection, If This Isn’t Nice What Is?, available at the KVML gift shop and a great present for graduates this May.

Following the readings, local jazz musician Rob Dixon opened with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” in celebration of “a big birthday” for Brancaccio on May 17. Dixon then played an original composition he wrote while sheltering at home during the COVID-19 crisis. Comedian Lewis Black wrapped up the evening reading the names of eight graduating seniors in attendance from around the country. And he left viewers, particularly the graduates, with a word of advice: “Pick up any Vonnegut book. Any one, and read it. It will tell you something you should know right now.”

At the end of the broadcast, KVML replayed a segment from David Brancaccio’s interview with Vonnegut in 2005. Click here to view a portion of this delightful interview.

The next graduation ceremony takes place next Tuesday, May 19 at 7 pm EST. Join novelist Paul Auster; writer, musician, and Kurt Vonnegut’s son Mark VonnegutA’Lelia Bundles, author of Self Madeoriginally published as On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker about her great-great-grandmother Madam C.J. Walker; Suzanne McConnell, author of Pity The Reader; graphic writer Ryan North (who is currently adapting Slaughterhouse-Five); and author Dan Wakefield  for a round-table reading of another commencement speech Kurt Vonnegut once delivered titled “How Music Cures Our Ills (and there are lots of them).” These speeches are collected in a new paperback edition of If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?, edited by Wakefield.

Comedian Lewis Black will read part of the graduation speech and will announce the names of the week’s graduates, musician Ethan Hodes will perform, and Anderson University 2020 graduate Mariah Murray will read a poem.

The Tuesday, May 26 final graduation will feature musical duo Kat Wallace and David Sasso, writer Lee Stringer (who collaborated with Vonnegut on the book, Like Shaking Hands with God), and other literary celebs. Join us!



Kathi Badertscher, PhD

Director of Graduate Programs at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
Kathi Badertscher, PhD, is Director of Graduate Programs at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Dr. Badertscher teaches a variety of BA, MA, and doctoral courses, including Applying Ethics in Philanthropy and History of Philanthropy. She has participated in several Teaching Vonnegut workshops and is a member of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. Dr. Badertscher has been a guest speaker on ethics in philanthropy, including at the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners – Indianapolis Council; Association of Fundraising Professionals – Indiana Chapter; and Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, Tianjin, China. In 2019 she received IUPUI Office for Women, Women’s Leadership Award for Newcomer Faculty. In 2019 and 2020 she received the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Graduate Teaching Award.
Dr. Badertscher’s publications include “Fundraising for Advocacy and Social Change,” co-authored with Shariq Siddiqui in Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, 5th ed., 2022; “Insulin at 100: Indianapolis, Toronto, Woods Hole, and the ‘Insulin Road,’ co-authored with Christopher Rutty, Pharmacy in History (2020); and three articles in the Indiana Magazine of History: “A New Wishard Is on the Way,” “Evaline Holliday and the Work of Community Service,” and “Social Networks in Indianapolis during the Progressive Era.” Her chapters on social welfare history will appear in three upcoming edited volumes on the history of philanthropy, including “The Legacy of Edna Henry and Her Contributions to the IU School of Social Work,” Women at Indiana University: Views of the Past and the Future, edited by Andrea Walton, Indiana University Press, 2022 (forthcoming). Dr. Badertscher is also the Philanthropy and Nonprofits Consulting Editor for the forthcoming Digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, edited by David J. Bodenhamer and Elizabeth Van Allen, Indiana University Press, 2021. Dr. Badertscher is an active volunteer in the Indianapolis community. At present, she is a Coburn Place Safe Haven Board Member and a Children’s Bureau/Families First Brand and Marketing Advisor. Dr. Badertscher holds the MA in History from Indiana University and the MA and PhD in philanthropic studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

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