Ivy Tech rededicates building in celebration of 10th anniversary

By Mike Leonard 331-4368 | mleonard@heraldt.com
September 6, 2012

Former Indiana Senate leader Bob Garton invoked the words of Winston Churchill at the 10-year Building Anniversary and Rededication of Ivy Tech Bloomington’s home on the city’s west side Wednesday afternoon.

Churchill’s remarks came after German air raids in World War II destroyed Great Britain’s House of Commons and provoked the statesman to vow to replace it in all of its previous majesty.

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us,” Garton said, echoing Churchill.

Speaker after speaker echoed Garton’s point: that the bricks and mortar matter, and the turning point in transforming Ivy Tech from a vocational school to a comprehensive community college began with the opening of the site celebrated Wednesday.

It was a day for looking back and looking forward, with many of the people who participated in the evolution of Ivy Tech Bloomington present for the occasion.

Several speakers noted that it took the cooperation of Garton, a Republican from Columbus, and Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, a Democrat, to get funding to build what is now the Connie and Steve Ferguson Academic Building.

Garton said his Senate colleagues balked at the $20 million price tag to build the more than 145,000-square-foot building in Bloomington and suggested it be cut to a smaller, $16 million structure. That plan ran into fierce opposition from state Rep. Kruzan in the Indiana House — girding Garton’s efforts to see the Bloomington campus built right and built well.

A decade later, the initiative looks not only wise but, possibly, overly frugal. Ivy Tech enrollment in Bloomington surged from 2,600 in 2002 to 6,400 a decade later, surpassing the structure’s long-term capacity of 5,000 several years ago.

Steve and Connie Ferguson — longtime supporters of Ivy Tech — hammered at the point that the Indiana Legislature that balked at the Bloomington facility 10 years ago needs to be prodded to move forward with expansion plans already approved by the Legislature but held up by the State Budget Committee and Indiana Higher Education Commission.

“It’s costing taxpayers $480,000 in rent to secure 100,000 square feet of space (to accommodate additional classroom needs),” Connie Ferguson told the crowd assembled Wednesday.

Her husband, Steve, made the same point later in the program, observing that the facility makes a statement of pride and stability to students, faculty and the community at large. A former trustee of Indiana University, Steve Ferguson said Ivy Tech Bloomington has become a recognized entryway to IU Bloomington and that the two institutions together make Bloomington the educational hub for the state.

Speakers at the one-hour program Wednesday praised longtime Ivy Tech system president Gerald I. Lamkin and John Whikehart, who took over as chancellor in 2001 and guided the campus through a decade of academic prosperity, community engagement and enrollment growth. At one point, the Bloomington campus was the third fastest-growing community college in the U.S.

Several speakers said a major key to the relationship between Ivy Tech and IU Bloomington was the involvement of IU Chancellor Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis, who pushed through the articulation agreement that fostered the streamlining of transferring Ivy Tech credits to IU Bloomington and other state four-year institutions.

Whikehart noted an amusing parallel with his original dedication speech in 2002 and the events of this week.

Originally scheduled for the steps of the Ferguson Academic Building, Wednesday’s event was moved indoors as storms swept through the Bloomington area.

Whikehart recalled that he moved the original dedication indoors as well, and quoted himself: “The only thing more eagerly anticipated in Bloomington in recent months than our dedication ceremony has been rain, so I have no regrets,” he said on Aug. 14, 2002.

A group of students watch from a distance as Ivy Tech Chancellor John R. Whikehart welcomes an audience to the 10-year anniversary and rededication ceremony at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Ivy Tech-Bloomington Student Veteran Association executive officer Bobby Olivo, left, and Commander Doug Hobbs prepare to post the colors during the 10-year anniversary and rededication ceremony at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Former Indiana Senate leader Bob Garton

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.