Statement as issued Tuesday by IPFW:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – After more than 45 years in public service, the last 10 as the director of the Community Research Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), John R. Stafford is retiring. Friends and colleagues of Stafford celebrated his retirement with a surprise party at Parkview (Field) this afternoon (Tuesday, May 21, 2013), where Indiana State Senator Tom Wyss (R-Fort Wayne) presented him with a Sagamore of the Wabash on behalf of Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
“I’ve worked with John for 37 years and I’ve never known anyone who is more attuned to understanding the long-term needs of this community. John’s work over the years for, and on behalf of, numerous city, county, state, and national governmental units and leaders has helped make Fort Wayne and Allen County the places that they are today. It has truly been my pleasure to not only work with John over the years, but to call him my friend. I wish him only the best as he embarks on his retirement,” said Wyss.
“John has been such a valuable asset to IPFW and the community with his vast and deep knowledge of the region. His passion and commitment to the university and community is legendary. He’s been the “go to” person from mayors to economic developers to citizens and to our students. Our institution has (benefited) from him through the education he’s provided to our students and we have been very fortunate to work alongside him while he’s inspired our students. We look forward to a continued relationship with John and wish him the best in his retirement,” said IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein.
Stafford joined IPFW in 2003 after working for the city and county in many positions, including director of strategic planning, chief of staff, director of economic development, and director of long-range planning and zoning. He also worked with the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Sagamore Associates, and the Economic Development Alliance.
“John Stafford’s work has been the cornerstone of efforts to develop regional economic development
in northeast Indiana from the very moment we conceived the Regional Partnership,” said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “You will find John’s imprint on our success in the growth of industry clusters for many years to come. The employment and lives of thousands of Hoosiers are better today all as a result of John’s remarkable intellect, integrity, and devotion to northeast Indiana.”
Valerie Richardson is a research associate at CRI and has worked with Stafford since he joined IPFW. “John is one of the most dedicated professionals I have ever met. The amount of time he puts into his work is legendary, but from a more personal point of view, I appreciated his management style and his support of ‘life-long learning,’” said Richardson. “He gave me room to improve my skills and knowledge, pointed me in the right direction, and I felt proud to be associated with CRI. I will miss him.”
Besides directing the efforts of the Community Research Institute, Stafford also teaches classes at IPFW in Urban Policy and Public finance, which he will continue into the fall 2013 semester. He is also assisting in the search for his replacement at CRI and will continue to serve on a part-time basis during the transition period, which is expected to being over the summer.
With his retirement, Stafford plans to pursue his love of model trains as well as continue to pursue his passion for the Chicago White Sox.
The Sagamore of the Wabash award is one of the most esteemed honors the Governor of Indiana can bestow. It is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor. Sagamore recipients have included astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians, and ordinary citizens who have contributed greatly to our Hoosier heritage. The Sagamore of the Wabash award was created during the term of Governor Ralph Gates, who served from 1945 to 1949.