Alumni Merit Award: Barbara Smith Wynne (SESP55)

Barbara Smith Wynne's pursuits have been many, but they focus on a few central themes in her life: a love of tennis, a desire to share that love with others, and the ability to teach with compassion.

The 1955 graduate has been playing tennis since the age of 10. As an undergraduate at Northwestern, she played just one year for the Wildcats, choosing to devote most of her time to her studies and the goal to become a teacher and coach. After graduating, she settled in Indianapolis with her husband and began teaching neighborhood kids to play. Realizing that, aside from her own courts, the young athletes had nowhere to practice, she began her lifelong rally for the expansion of local tennis facilities.

Her efforts weren't intended merely to improve students' backhands and serves, but to allow young people a space to grow personally, to cultivate lifelong friendships, and to engage with players from all corners of the community. Wynne petitioned the Indianapolis city council on behalf of the budding tennis players, and within a few years, she had officially established the Washington Township Schools Community Tennis Program. The program prompted the refurbishment of the high school's six courts and the construction of twenty-seven new ones. There are now forty-four courts in the area, and the program has served more that 24,000 citizens in its lifespan.

In 2004, the tennis program completed a multi-million dollar renovation project, and the completed facility was named the Barbara S. Wynne Tennis Center in her honor.

Along with her good friend Arthur Ashe, she founded Indianapolis' chapter of the National Junior Tennis League program, which provides low-cost tennis lessons and life-skills education to young athletes, particularly those who otherwise would not have access to the resources needed to play. There are currently more than 2,000 participants benefiting from the program, and more than 34,000 children have picked up a racket under the guidance of the program's instructors.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame has awarded her the Educational Merit Award in recognition of her tireless work to bring the joy of the sport to so many. She received the International Tennis Federation's Service to Tennis Award in 2001.

Wynne has directed much of her enthusiasm for teaching toward tennis, but she has also spent tremendous time and energy on Indy's Child, a free parenting magazine for the greater Indianapolis area. Since founding the magazine in 1984, she has consistently penned the publisher's note and contributed columns.

She and her husband of 53 years, John, have raised six children, among them Richard, who graduated from Northwestern in 1991.