Trustees Chair Niles Noblitt to be Inducted into Indiana Academy

Wednesday, October 05, 2022
Niles Noblitt

Niles Noblitt is being inducted into the Indiana Academy for his many achievements and contributions to Indiana as co-founder of Biomet, Inc., and Rose-Hulman as chair of the Board of Trustees and significant benefactor.

Board of Trustees Chair and alumnus and Indiana biomedical technology pioneer Niles Noblitt will be inducted into the prestigious Indiana Academy on Monday, October 10, in Indianapolis. The honor recognizes his lifetime of achievement and contributions to Indiana and Rose-Hulman.

The Indiana Academy promotes the advancement of Indiana through the Academy’s support of the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc., and its member institutions. Academy membership highlights people who live in or are from the state who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in philanthropy, business, public service, advancement of the sciences, the arts, literature, culture, and scholarship in connection with Indiana’s independent non-profit colleges and universities.

A 1973 biological engineering graduate of Rose-Hulman, Noblitt co-founded Biomet Inc., a medical device manufacturer located in a business cluster within Warsaw, Indiana. The company specialized in reconstruction products for orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, craniomaxillofacial surgery, and operating room supplies. It has been named among the nation’s top 10 producers of orthopedic devices.

Noblitt joined Biomet’s Board of Directors in 1977 and became chairman of the company from 1986 until his retirement in 2007 subsequent to the sale of the company. His professional work also includes developing total joint prosthetic devices and processes that continue to have significant usage, with thousands of patients worldwide continuing to benefit from those products and the processes Noblitt helped established to produce. He remains active in the medical technology industry through a variety of advisory and board member roles with biomedical companies throughout the world. 

In retirement, Noblitt has lent his organizational leadership expertise, problem-solving skills, and commitment to helping others assist in Rose-Hulman’s leadership role in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). He started a five-year term in 2018 as chairman of Rose-Hulman’s Board of Trustees, a group of nearly 30 successful STEM professionals, corporate leaders and alumni who provide guiding principles and support the Institute. This came after Noblitt had served as vice chair and trustee along with years as a supportive alumnus through advising to campus leadership and providing philanthropic support, with his wife, Nancy, by sponsoring student scholarships, expanding leadership and community service opportunities through the Noblitt Scholars program, and growth of the Institute’s state-of-the-art Oakley Observatory

During Noblitt’s tenure as trustees’ chair, Rose-Hulman has successfully completed its $250 million Mission Driven fundraising drive; opened several new campus facilities, including a new $29 million, 70,000-square-foot academic building, a $21 million expansion of the student union, and the Richard J. and Shirley J. Kremer Innovation Center; and expanded national recognition and increased gender, ethnic and geographic diversity within the student body. Rose-Hulman attracts top scholars from throughout the world seeking a specialized undergraduate STEM educational experience.

Noblitt said, “I’m proud of my association with Rose-Hulman and am pleased to see the Institute become recognized nationally for what I have known since my days on campus – that it provides the core technical and educational principles, strong work ethic, leadership opportunities, and sense of community that produce graduates that become leaders in their career fields. I am humbled by this Indiana Academy honor in recognition of my efforts to make a difference in people’s lives.”

President Robert A. Coons pointed out that Noblitt worked closely with Institute leadership to help Rose-Hulman overcome one of the most tumultuous periods in its 148-year history: surviving the consequences and aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The college has come out of this period further committed to its mission of providing students with the world’s best undergraduate STEM education in an environment of individual attention and support.

“Niles has a strong commitment to Rose-Hulman and its students, faculty, and staff. That resiliency has never been more important to the Institute than the past two years,” said Coons. “At the same time, Niles has helped campus leadership set a course on short- and long-term strategic plans to keep Rose-Hulman on the leading edge of an ever-changing higher education landscape. That leadership and support has been appreciated by me and the rest of the campus community.”

Noblitt received an honorary doctorate in engineering from Rose-Hulman in 1996. He was a longtime board member with Indianapolis’ Nico Corporation, a pioneer in minimally invasive methods of brain surgery. He also was chairman of MedShape’s Board of Directors prior to its acquisition by Colfax (now Enovis), a senior advisor with Episurf Medica and formerly served on the board of OrthoHelix Surgical Designs Inc. prior to its acquisition by Tornier. 

Joining Noblitt in being inducted into the Indiana Academy this year are D. Wade Clapp, MD, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine; David Findlay, president and chief executive officer of Lake City Bank; and David Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Inc. 

Indiana Academy membership also includes Rose-Hulman trustees Linda White, Greg Gibson and Anton Hulman George. 

Founded in 1970, the Indiana Academy, is maintained through the support of the Tony and Mary Fendrich Hulman Endowment Fund and donations from members of The Indiana Academy.