Ivy Tech: one of the nation's largest community colleges.
INDIANA IS HOME TO many fine institutions of higher education, but few of them are ramping up their reach across the state as quickly as Ivy Tech Community College. The school now has 23 campuses across Indiana and also offers classes in 75 communities, serving a record 120,000 students and making Ivy Tech among the largest singly-accredited statewide community colleges in the nation.
Ivy Tech reports its Spring enrollment is up 14 percent from last year, with students signing up for classes that range from advanced manufacturing and biotechnology to interior design, practical nursing and computer technology. The school's final numbers for the 2007-2008 academic year report that its annual enrollment edges Ivy Tech past Indiana University to become the state's largest college system.
And with the economic turmoil that is sweeping the country, Ivy Tech sees a great opportunity to provide education and retraining for those who are seeking new employment. The fact that students can enroll in the college for less than $3,000 a year is also a major selling point during a time when budgets are being tightened.
"It is very clear that people are recognizing that further education will best position them to be competitive in today's workforce," says President Thomas J. Snyder.
Although the current economic environment is raising the demand for Ivy Tech's classes, the college's recent success is the result of careful planning that has been in place for a number of years.
Snyder points to the school's 2010 Strategic Plan and says the objectives it outlines have been used not just as a general vision for the organization, but rather a specific action plan and the school's budget is built around those goals. That plan, which has been updated to support the school's 2009 re-accreditation and also launch a plan for the next five years, focuses on three areas: students, employers and communities.
Ivy Tech's enrollment is roughly equally split between "traditional" students who start taking classes right after high school and "nontraditional" students who are older than 24 years of age. Although the two groups bring different perspectives to the classrooms and campus life, both typically have job experience and many are employed while they are in school.
"Since our students are mostly employed, they are already developing job skills," Snyder says, noting the college works to help students in their current jobs, as well as preparing for future ones. "We are trying to develop citizens with broader skills that can serve the community and we are very employer-driven."
That means Ivy Tech not only provides traditional classroom education, but also works to provide assistance in areas where students may need extra help, such as providing academic advising on career choices, remedial work in needed subjects, free tutoring, disability services and opportunities to participate in a wide range of student activities. The school also encourages participation in community service and civic activities.
"We're trying to develop some pathways so they can see ways to succeed," Snyder says, noting Ivy Tech focuses on personal and professional Success.
Ivy Tech also makes an extra effort to reach those who may not think they can get a college education. That means targeting high school students who are at risk of dropping out of school or bypassing the college route. Snyder says identifying those students early and helping them to understand their options is a key responsibility.
"We're trying to reach into high schools and see if they are prepared for Ivy Tech," he says. One way to measure that readiness is to use the PSAT test that is typically given to students in 10th grade. Ivy Tech allows juniors and seniors with scores above 46 to enroll in its classes and get dual credit for both high school and college.
In addition to reaching out to new students, Ivy Tech is concentrating on delivering the message that a college education can be affordable. Not only will the skills developing through higher education provide increased earnings in future years, but tuition at Ivy Tech can be as less than $3,000 per year, with financial aid available. Such an investment in education can make a big difference for not only the individual's future career options, but also for the entire state's economy
"The focus is really to get more people prepared for today's workforce," Snyder explains. "We've taken that as our mantra."
Reaching out to nontraditional students is also an important part of the school's mission and Snyder notes that older individuals bring a different perspective to classes and are often looking for ways to develop new job skills or move forward in their careers.
However, Snyder estimates there are more than 900,000 adults in the state who aren't prepared for today's workforce. While that includes those with low-paying jobs and minimal skills, Snyder points out it also counts those who have high-paying jobs, but no college diploma. Such individuals may have been earning above-average wages with good benefits for a number of years, but may suddenly find themselves unemployable if they lose their current position.
Although Ivy Tech has built a statewide network of campus infrastructure, the college is also active in building partnerships with local communities and other universities.
A major effort in recent years has been to improve the ability of students to transfer the credits they earn at Ivy Tech to other colleges and universities. That is traditionally part of the mission of a community college system, Snyder explains. Although Indiana offers students many college choices within 100 miles of their homes, he notes that community colleges in other states are often located in areas that aren't served by other schools. For Ivy Tech, that presents greater opportunities to develop partnerships with other schools and allow students use the community college system to enter their programs.
Ivy Tech and Indiana University have developed several such programs. For example, a close relationship between the two schools takes place in Bloomington, where Ivy Tech students can actually live in Indiana University residence halls and are encouraged to transfer to the four-year institution after they complete their initial two years of classes. The Hoosier Link Program allows those selected students to enroll at Ivy Tech with an opportunity for guaranteed transfer to Indiana University Bloomington.
Another comprehensive partnership is underway at the main Ivy Tech campus in downtown Indianapolis. A $10 million project, using a $3.8 million grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and $6.2 million in federal funding is expected to transform how the school interacts with the local community and a growing number of students who want to live near the main campus.
The project envision a transit hub that ties into the city's IndyGo bus system and other facilities that may include a coffee shop and convenience store, learning labs, admissions, testing and financial aid offices, two-to-four levels of parking and perhaps an expanded library or cafeteria services. Groundbreaking for the project is set for this summer, with completion expected in summer 2010.
"This is an exciting first step towards building the educational corridor in downtown Indianapolis connecting IUPUI, Ivy Tech and The Children's Museum and making educational opportunities more accessible to Indianapolis area residents," says Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.
"The collaboration among the Fairbanks Foundation, the federal government, IndyGo and Ivy Tech will meet vital needs for both the community and the college," says Ivy Tech Vice President of Development Joyce Rogers. "We hope to develop more of these innovative partnerships as we seek to provide additional funding for college programs in light of possible reduced funding and lower investment earnings."
Although the school is also looking for ways to cuts costs and grow efficiently, Snyder notes such investments in the campus also helps the surrounding neighborhood and meets the school's mission of serving students, employers and their communities.
As the demand for Ivy Tech's services continues to grow, it will increase investment in other parts of the state as well. Ivy Tech has purchased land in Elkhart and plans a new 70,000-square-foot facility that will open next year and the school is also planning an expansion in Sellersburg.
Ivy Tech Community College 23 campuses across Indiana Anderson 2,999 Bloomington 6,923 Columbus 5,438 East Chicago 1,702 Elkhart 1,974 Evansville 8,271 Fort Wayne 11,585 Gary 3,368 Indianapolis 23,545 Kokomo 4,297 Lafayette 10,247 Lawrenceburg 2,076 Logansport 1,111 Madison 1,333 Marion 1,413 Michigan City 1,282 Muncie 5,589 Richmond 3,901 Sellersburg 5,833 South Bend 5,415 Terre Haute 7,813 Valparaiso 3,227 Warsaw 1,105 2008-09 enrollment
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|Publication:||Indiana Business Magazine|
|Article Type:||Cover story|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2009|
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