Alumni Relations

Larry Wardlaw

Photo of Larry Wardlaw

Larry Wardlaw

Accounts, Asher Agency

B.S.E., Speech/Theatre Major '71

Larry Wardlaw is a long-time community leader, named The Journal Gazette’s Citizen of the Year in 2011, honored last spring by the YWCA of Northeast Indiana as well as by the Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne with the prestigious Silver Medal for outstanding contributions to the advertising industry, creative excellence, and responsibility in areas of social concern. He has served countless civic, charitable, and fine arts organizations. Congratulations, Larry, on your well-deserved recognition.  

 How did you become interested in your field?

After working in my academic field directing in community theater and summer stock, I was invited to assist in Mayor Bob Armstrong’s office in 1978. I loved theater, but this was a great financial opportunity. The skills I learned for stage, speech, and education, were a perfect fit for the mayor’s office, where I really honed my PR and communications skills. I then went to the Chamber of Commerce for a time before joining the Asher Agency in 1985. Unbelievably, there were only five employers at the agency then. With 65 total employees today, I’ve seen amazing growth there. I’m still working on the account side. Everything in my career really connected to my education here.

Why did you choose IPFW?

This was a great choice. My brilliant twin sister decided on IPFW. We were the first in our family to attend college. So education was especially important to us. We lived in Fort Wayne, so it made sense and the tuition was more affordable. My sister received a scholarship, so she went to Bloomington to finish her education.

Who were some of your mentors at IPFW?

There were so many incredible, supportive faculty members. Theatre Professors Cashman and Tolan as well as Deans Kenworthy and Ulmer stand out as making a lasting impact. The theatre then was so much smaller than what we have today, but it was an amazing opportunity to learn so much and, because it was smaller then, the students were involved in everything really. I also recall Biology Professor Tobolski, who often stayed after class to help. It was such a caring culture.

What is the best career advice you were given?

Never turn down an opportunity. And don’t be afraid something to try something new.

What surprised you most about IPFW?

The most surprising thing today as an alumnus is how the campus has developed as a major institution in the region. There are so many more buildings and programs than in my day. The most surprising thing when I was a student was the welcoming community of the theatre. I was a little intimidated as a freshman—I was a first gen student as well as feeling a bit of a square peg in a round hole—but found an incredibly safe, welcoming environment.

Where do you hope to be in 5–10 years?
Comfortably retired! Actually, I’m not sure I want to go cold turkey. I know I want to do something I love. I taught here in what was then the journalism school about 10 years ago. Maybe I’ll consider going back to something like that. Who knows?