Mary Orvis

Executive Secretary, Indiana University Indianapolis Extension Office


A well-known figure in the early days of Indiana University's presence in Indianapolis, Orvis started working for Indiana University in 1916 as a secretary to the director of the university's summer school program.  From 1918 to 1924, she held the title of secretary the IU Indianapolis extension office located in the Bobbs Merrill building in downtown Indianapolis.  In 1921, Robert E. Cavanaugh became the director of IU's Extension Division and he unofficially charged Orvis with running the Indianapolis office.  She was considered to be the "officer-in-charge," and in 1924, her position title officially changed to executive secretary.  Orvis did everything from planning courses to overseeing administrative functions. 

Orvis was a freelance writer and editor of Outlook magazine.  In 1920, Orvis began teaching a short story course at the extension center and this stemmed into a position as Assistant Professor of Journalism in 1921.  In 1948, she authored a textbook on fiction writing.  In 1949, she became an Associate Professor of Journalism.  Orvis retired in 1954 and died in 1964.  "Orvis House" student apartments on the River Walk are named in her honor.


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Last updated by maeowen on 08/28/2015