April 29, 2015

First Annual Keys to L.E.A.D. Award Presented to Professor Olon F. Dotson

By Holly Rittenhouse

“We have come a great distance, but we have a distance to go.” – Dr. Linda D. Keys

Olon Dotson
On behalf of members of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS), College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) Professor Olon F. Dotson received the first annual Keys to L.E.A.D. Award for his leadership in the areas of social change, environmental awareness, and design.

The Keys to L.E.A.D. award is named after the late Dr. Linda D. Keys who served as an advocate for social and environmental awareness. Keys’ legacy extends throughout the College of Architecture and Planning, Ball State University, Muncie, and beyond. On Thursday, April 9th, friends, family, colleagues, and students of Keys spoke about her lasting impact.

John Bailey
John Bailey, Dr. Keys’ brother, spoke during the presentation. He said, “She considered Muncie to be a treasure. I could live one hundred years, and I never could have done as much for Muncie as she did.”

Sarah Mitchell, a 2006 CAP graduate and city planner for Richmond, Indiana was “very grateful and honored” to speak on Dr. Keys’ behalf. She said, “I wasn’t a perfect student, but I did learn so much from her. She showed tough love. She definitely encouraged me.”

Those who spoke about Keys portrayed her as dedicated, passionate, intellectual, and loving. Bailey said, “I want you to remember her for her love.” According to Bailey, Keys held the philosophy that “You can do more for people when you love them.”

“So share the love,” Bailey said, “and when you think of Linda, think of love.”

Sarah Mitchell
Like Dr. Keys, Dotson’s impact expands throughout Muncie and around the world as he pushes for design accountability and social justice. His work lays a firm foundation for generations to follow.

Dotson’s work has inspired countless CAP graduates of all races and ethnicities to initiate change in their own communities. “He opened my eyes to the design inequalities” that exist today, one of Dotson’s students said.

Presenters said that Dotson “has displayed an unwavering commitment” to the students in the College of Architecture and Planning.

Dotson believes in the “pay it forward” philosophy in which the beneficiary of a good deed repays it to other people instead of to the original benefactor. One student felt that speaking on Dotson’s behalf was his “opportunity to pay it forward” after Dotson had done so much for him.

Dotson closed the presentation with a call to do more. He said we should “celebrate” the progress we have made thus far in the areas of social change, environmental awareness, and design, “but not be satisfied.”

Olon Dotson receiving the first annual 
Keys to L.E.A.D. award from 
John Bailey, Dr. Linda D. Keys’ brother.

1 comment:

  1. I worked for Dr. Keys as a graduate assistant. I am pleased to see her legacy live on.