Wabash Valley school celebrate new eras

2018-09-30 | The Tribune-Star

Sept. 30--A new era has begun at Indiana State University under a new president, Deborah Curtis, who began her duties in January.

Curtis is ISU's first woman president and only the second president to be an ISU graduate; she earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Indiana State.

Now, she's returned in a leadership role with "the opportunity to start writing that next chapter," alongside colleagues, she said.

She's taken on more of an external role than her predecessor, Dan Bradley, and will spend more time fundraising and meeting with alumni, legislators and state leaders.

Looking to ISU's future, she would like to see "higher visibility in this state, reputational recognition in this state and a clearer idea of what our distinctiveness is."

She hopes to meet enrollment goals by recruiting more adult and online learners. In student affairs, she wants to address student issues that include mental health, food insecurity, housing issues and financial well-being. In advancement, she wants to increase private dollars raised and build the endowment.

The university will remain committed to Indiana's workforce needs, she said.

She wants to connect with more alumni to assist the university not only financially, but through mentoring and in other ways. "We have 100,000 living alumni," she said. "That's a powerful resource."

In marketing efforts, she wants Hoosiers to know ISU has more than undergraduate programs, and the university's online, graduate and doctoral programs, as well as other credentials, can help them with career goals.

There's a financial reason for broadening the funnel of potential students. In the Midwest, and across the country, the number of high school graduates is declining, and colleges are competing for those fewer graduates.

But, she emphasized, "We're not going to stop marketing to first-time, full-time, freshmen." The university remains committed to serving first-generation, Pell eligible students and 21st Century Scholars. At the same time, "How do we make sure we're the best at serving that population," she said.

ISU also must continue to focus on student success, which means degree completion, she said.

In October, she plans to take to the board of trustees a proposal to "fine-tune" the university's strategic plan.

Meanwhile, the university saw about a 5.3 percent decline in overall enrollment, to 13,045 this fall compared to 13,771 in fall 2017; that's a drop of 726 students. Freshman enrollment dropped to 2,402, down from 2,688 a year ago.

On a positive note, Provost Mike Licari said this year's freshman class is the "most academically well-prepared freshmen class we've had in the recorded history of Indiana State University." The group's cumulative high school grade-point average was 3.25, with an average SAT score of 1029.

Health Human Services

In another major development, this spring, ISU celebrated the opening of a 87,000-square-foot addition to the College of Health and Human Services building, located on the west side of campus, just a block off Third Street. The addition represents the first phase of a $64 million, two-phase project, the largest state-funded project in ISU's history.

The second phase, which involves renovation of the arena, is now underway; renovation will be completed in 2019.

The facility brings the different health care disciplines under one roof, allowing students from various health and wellness programs to participate in collaborative learning. Health care professions are some of the fastest growing, high-wage jobs in Indiana.

Ivy Tech Precision Ag

Just in time for fall semester, Ivy Tech-Terre Haute opened a facility dedicated to precision agriculture and diesel technology.

A ribbon-cutting for the Center of Excellence for Precision Agriculture Equipment Technology took place in early August.

Modern farmers use precision ag technology such as GPS, drones and autonomous vehicles to plant, monitor and treat their crops. Those devices reduce labor time and overlap on tasks.

The center, located in the Vigo County Industrial Park south of Terre Haute, boasts a 26,000-square-foot laboratory with separate lecture and computer lab space that houses the precision agriculture and diesel technology programs.

It houses a wide variety of agricultural equipment including tractors, combines, planters, spreaders, and drones, all incorporated with precision technologies for hands-on education for students, as well as diesel technology equipment.

Using a $1.2 million matching grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Ivy Tech began retrofitting warehouse space in the rear of the Technical Learning Achievement Building in January to house the programs.

"This precision ag program will serve all the Wabash Valley in really bringing the agriculture technology of tomorrow here today," said College President Sue Ellspermann.

At the Ivy Tech-Terre Haute campus, students interested in careers in precision agriculture can earn technical certificates and an associate of applied science degree; in diesel technology, they can pursue certificates, technical certificates and an associate of applied science degree.

The program has already drawn interest from students in the Wabash Valley and even out-of-state, including Missouri.

Workforce development

The college continues to address workforce needs as many employers struggle to fill positions. Ivy Tech has partnered with WorkOne to provide short-term training in CNC [machining] and welding to help meet those workforce needs. The programs are focused on dislocated or under-employed workers, and the training is state-funded -- at no cost to students.

Several individuals have completed the CNC training, which prepares graduates for machining jobs in the community. As of mid-August, the program had 14 cohorts, with eight to 12 students in each group.

"We have numerous machining companies in the Wabash Valley ... that desperately need that workforce," said Lea Anne Crooks, Ivy Tech-Terre Haute chancellor. "The CNC program equips them with the necessary skills to work in the machining industry."

Graduates earn national certifications, including National Institute of Metalworking Skills [NIMS] certification needed for entry level CNC operator/machinist positions, Crooks said.

The group completing in mid-August included six who graduated from high school in May.

There is a similar program in welding, and those who complete it can go to work as entry-level welders. For both programs, if students choose to continue their education, it can be applied to a degree program.

Ivy Tech also has partnered with the Indiana Department of Correction to offer similar welding and CNC training to nonviolent offenders who are within six months to one year of release from prison. The goal is to give them the skills to obtain a job, which lowers the likelihood of recidivism, Crooks said.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Two new facilities, a new engineering design major and completion of a student union renovation/expansion project top the list of major changes at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology this past year.

--The college has received a $15 million gift from an anonymous donor for construction of a new, three-story academic building on the east side of campus that will link Moench and Myers halls.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the 60,000-square-foot facility will take place Oct. 6 during the college's homecoming festivities. The $29 million building will be open for the 2021-22 school year.

The new building will provide collaboration workspaces, design studios, flexible classrooms, chemistry laboratories and faculty innovation spaces. "We've always tried to be on the cutting edge of how best to educate future engineers and scientists," said Anne Houtman, Rose-Hulman provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The current Rotz Lab located between Moench and Myers halls will be torn down to make way for the new building and a courtyard.

Also this summer, the college announced it has broken ground on a 13,800-square-foot engineering design and laboratory building adjacent to the Branam Innovation Center [BIC]. The $2.2-million building on the northeast end of campus will be used for competition teams, design projects, robotics, makerspace and special-interest activities.

The popularity of the BIC for competition teams, projects and tinkering -- stretching its capacity -- provided the impetus for a new "bridge" building that will connect class and co-curricular activities and ease the pressure on the BIC.

It will connect to the Branam Center and contain labs and classrooms for the new major in engineering design, which debuted this fall.

The building is expected to be complete in late November for use at the start of the winter academic quarter. A ribbon-cutting for the "bridge" also will take place Homecoming weekend Oct. 5-7.

New engineering design program

Rose-Hulman has added a new major in engineering design to provide students with a broad foundation of engineering skills and a multidisciplinary experience in design to meet the needs of an ever-changing economy.

Students began the program this fall.

The new major will allow students starting their freshman year to have hands-on experience designing real-world projects for clients. A junior-year practicum, a co-op work assignment or an international project will give students additional real-world experiences along with their engineering concentration.

The program will involve faculty from mechanical, electrical and computer, biomedical and software engineering as well as humanities.

Prospective employers are seeking engineering graduates with fundamental design skills to strengthen research and development in their companies and bring new ideas to the marketplace, according to Brian Dougherty, a Rose-Hulman alumnus who is director of engineering for Rose-Hulman Ventures.

The Buzz About 'The Muzz'

It hasn't taken long for Rose-Hulman's refurbished and expanded student union to become a center of activity on campus, with dining, socializing and relaxing throughout each day and well into the night.

In providing the $9-million lead gift for the overhaul of the facility, Linda and Mike Mussallem envisioned a place where the campus community could come together, relax and enjoy healthy dining -- taking time to refresh and recharge from an academically challenging education.

After two years of construction, the $25-million glass-fronted, 103,000-square-foot Mussallem Union, with its lighted tower, stone patio and beckoning lawn, was dedicated late last May and is now fully open.

"Rose-Hulman always had a special way of educating bright young minds, but I thought it would be great to have a place that focused on student wellness and bringing the total person into the picture," says Mike Mussallem, a 1974 chemical engineering graduate who is chairman and chief executive officer of Edwards Lifesciences.

The Mussallem Union -- or as students affectionately call it "The Muzz", a longtime Mussallem family nickname -- includes a glass-walled Hulman Living Room overlooking Speed Lake; a new dining hall and an expanded menu of healthy, locally-sourced foods; a coffee and smoothie shop; and the new Chauncey's Café, featuring a blazing pizza oven.

The Hulman Living Room, with its dramatic wall installation of live plants and a fireplace, honors the family of Anton "Tony" and Mary Fendrich Hulman, whose name and history are linked with Rose-Hulman's.

President Jim Conwell notes, "We now have a full-fledged union -- a place that everyone can call home. Students are no longer just passing through the building on the way to pick up a quick meal. The Mussallem Union is their place to do whatever they want and enjoy this special time in their lives."

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Record new, on-campus enrollment and a public kickoff of a capital campaign highlighted the past year at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

In August, the college celebrated another year of record new student enrollment.

The new class of about 200 freshmen represented an increase of about 20 percent from last year and is the largest in the school's history, according to Dottie King, the school's president. The growth followed a 45 percent increase last year and a more than 30 percent jump the year before. King cites several reasons for the trend, including the decision to admit men as residential students beginning in 2016.

Another draw has been new academic programs added in recent years, including nursing and environmental science; a computer information systems program is in the works. The Pomeroys have also added new athletic programs, including men's soccer this year. Next year, women's and men's track and field will be added.

Total on campus enrollment of more than 450 students is the highest since 1969. As of August, another 350 students were enrolled in the Woods Online program and the college reported 216 graduate students for a total enrollment figure of 1,006. The most popular majors are nursing, education, business, equine studies and criminology.

Comprehensive campaign

In February, the college publicly kicked off a $22 million comprehensive campaign in support of its strategic plan, with an emphasis on renovation and restoration of Le Fer Hall.

As of late August, the campaign had raised $9.5 million in overall gifts, which counts money raised through the Woods Fund, endowed scholarships and grants.

SMWC began the leadership phase of the Aspire Higher campaign in July 2016. A major initiative is a $7 million capital project to renovate SMWC's residence hall, a historic structure built in 1923. The "I Love Le Fer" initiative aims to improve the look and functioning of spaces to meet the needs of today's students while honoring Le Fer Hall's historic significance.

Commitments of $1.3 million have resulted in the following renovations: reinstalling the cross atop the building, replacing the tower windows, renovating the new Sacred Heart Chapel and Sullivan Lounge and creating a new bank of handicap-accessible restrooms and a prep-kitchen to serve the newly named McMahan Ballroom.

Also, the former ground-floor home of the Sacred Heart Chapel has been renovated into Studio '64, made possible through the generosity of the Class of 1964. It is now home to the new dance team and yoga classes and is available for student organizations to reserve.

Along with the many common spaces, each student room in Le Fer will eventually be renovated, with special attention paid to new windows, refinishing floors and repainting walls.

In other news, the college:

--Opened an on-site health services clinic in collaboration with Union Health. The new facility, staffed by a nurse practitioner, provides basic health services including flu shots, health assessments and treatments, immunizations, laboratory testing and physical exams.

--In October, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and the Sisters of Providence jointly announced that their combined campus, known as the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods District, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation

--In June, the college rededicated a restored Le Fer Lake, a project that took several years.

In the restoration process, repairs were made to the dam, a half-mile walking trail was created and invasive plant species were removed to prepare the space for an outdoor classroom, which will be constructed in the future.

Students -- particularly those studying biology and environmental science -- now have more opportunities for hands-on learning.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.