The Herald-Times

Ivy Tech Bloomington gets national attention again for service-learning, civic engagement

By Mike Leonard
331-4368 |
July 10, 2012, last update: 7/10 @ 12:03 am

Chancellor John Whikehart greets students on the first day of classes last August at the Ivy Tech Community College campus on Bloomington’s west side. Monty Howell | Herald-Times

Civic engagement was one of the primary goals set by Ivy Tech Bloomington shortly after its current campus opened in 2002.

That goal is being met, if the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is any indication. For the sixth consecutive year, the Bloomington campus has received the highest federal recognition for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement.

The numbers at the westside Bloomington campus have risen every year, with Ivy Tech’s economic contribution to its six-county service area from volunteer activities increasing from $632,956 in 2010-11 to $891,167 in 2011-12. The campus reported nearly 20,208 hours of volunteer service over the past year, assisting 80 nonprofit agencies in the area.

Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart said this week that while community service has been embedded into the Bloomington campus culture, it also helped that the school upped its number of service-learning courses from 36 to 71 in the past year.

Offering such classes meant that accounting students taking a tax course volunteered to prepare taxes for low-income people.

It meant that marketing students prepared a brochure for Monroe County United Ministries.

It meant that biotechnology students applied what they learned in class by monitoring local streams for water quality and reporting the figures back to governmental officials.

“Service-learning courses create a relevant experiential learning opportunity for students. They’re not just learning about theory. They’re out in the real world, applying what they’ve learned,” Whikehart said.

And that pays off in real contributions to area communities.

“Our surveys of students who have completed a certificate or degree — about 90 percent-plus are still living and working in south-central Indiana and employed in relation to the degree or certificate they earned,” Whikehart said.

“We asked as far back as 2003, what if we modeled some behavior that left us not only with a 90 percent success rate in terms of students giving back to the communities in terms of working local jobs and contributing to the local economy, but what if they left with the same level of commitment to community service?” Whikehart said. “They will be paying or giving something back quite frankly for the education they received.”

Ivy Tech Bloomington was among 642 schools to be selected nationwide and just one of two of Ivy Tech’s 14 primary campuses to receive the presidential honor.

The Bloomington campus is the system’s third-largest and focuses on a six-county area including Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Morgan and Owen counties. The Bloomington campus has an enrollment of 6,400 students, but is rivaled only by the Indianapolis campus for its reach — enrolling students from almost every county in the state.

Copyright: 2012

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.