Ivy Tech celebrates 10 years of record expansion Wednesday

By Mike Leonard 331-4368 | mleonard@heraldt.com
September 5, 2012

For Ivy Tech Community College trustee Lee Marchant, it’s the “incredible” program that ramped up quickly to fill an immediate need for Licensed Practical Nurses in south-central Indiana.

For Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart, it’s the steady march from vocational school to a comprehensive community college that attracts students from 71 of Indiana’s 92 counties and offers more than 400 credit hours that can transfer to Indiana University or another state-assisted four-year institution.

Different people have a different first point of emphasis when they talk about the multiple measures of growth that Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus has experienced in the 10 years since it relocated to its current location at 200 Daniels Way on the city’s west side.

Those perspectives will doubtless be shared Wednesday when the community college stages a 10th anniversary building rededication and open house from 4-5 p.m. Wednesday. After brief remarks, building tours and tours of Ivy Tech nursing, paramedic and technology labs will be available.

“Ten years in the building is a milestone to measure our growth as an Ivy Tech campus,” Whikehart said in a statement announcing the event. “In 1963, the Indiana General Assembly formed the Indiana Vocational Technical College. The Bloomington campus of Ivy Tech first offered classes in 1968. Construction of our current facility began in 2000, and the doors officially opened in 2002. The building was designed to accommodate 5,000 students. Ten years later, in 2012, Ivy Tech-Bloomington has an enrollment of 6,400 full-time students.”

“I think it was kind of an anomaly that it took so long to get Bloomington built,” said Marchant. Initially, local officials had to work to pull Bloomington out of the Columbus region and anchor as its own entity, ostensibly to serve students from a six-county region including Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Morgan and Owen counties.

Groundbreaking for the current Ivy Tech building began in March, 2000, and Whikehart was appointed interim chancellor in September, 2001. “John came on board when we were really looking for somebody to come in and kind of clean up a mess,” Marchant said. “There were a lot of issues on the table about moving Ivy Tech credits to IU and other four-year programs and I credit John and (IU President) Adam Herbert for getting after that and making things happen.”

Whikehart set out on goals set out by the state board of trustees to not just expand academic and workforce development programs but also student life initiatives, community engagement and continuing education and community service.

Today the Bloomington campus has a variety of student clubs, including Democratic and Republican political groups. Last year, Ivy Tech students contributed 20,208 hours of volunteer service to the six-county region.

“We’re also the only Ivy Tech campus in the state to have a Center for Lifelong Learning and a multitude of personal enrichment programs,” Whikehart said in an interview.

The O’Bannon Institute for Community Service has brought to Bloomington an array of nationally-recognized speakers from politics and the public realm, including former U.S. Senators Birch Bayh, Alan Simpson and George McGovern, former First Lady Laura Bush and writers and commentators including Sam Donaldson, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Eugene Robinson, Arianna Huffington, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Richard Dreyfuss, George Will and Cokie Roberts.

Workforce training initiatives include the Indiana Center for Life Sciences, the “5-Star Training” program for nearly 1,400 workers at the French Lick and West Baden Springs resorts and a singular radiation therapy treatment program.

“We have a lot to celebrate, both in Bloomington and throughout the Ivy Tech system,” Marchant said. “We’ve gone in a very short amount of time from a kind of second-rate vocational school to a professional two-year community college system that is the largest in the country. Most states are characterized by small community colleges that can’t turn on a dime, the way we can, to support any kind of industry that comes through and looks to us for help.”

Marchant said he sees Ivy Tech as an important cog in the effort to increase college affordability.

“I think Ivy Tech is one of the factors that’s going to substantially reduce the cost of higher education,” he said. “The fact that Ivy Tech can offer a two-year education that is transferable to four-year institutions, at substantially less cost, is a huge step towards reducing the overall cost of education.”

A group of students enter Ivy Tech’s main building in Bloomington Tuesday. The building, named for Steve and Connie Ferguson, will be rededicated Wednesday to celebrate its 10th anniversary. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

An Ivy Tech student works in a staircase lounge overlooking the plaza at the school’s main building in Bloomington Tuesday. The building, named for Steve and Connie Ferguson, will be rededicated Wednesday to celebrate its 10th anniversary. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

Student head count since the Bloomington campus of Ivy Tech Community College moved to Daniels Way. Herald-Times graphic

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 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.