Ivy Tech’s small campuses must stay open

The Herald-Times 

OUR OPINION
Ivy Tech’s small campuses must stay open

Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 2:00 am

Ivy Tech in Bloomington and Columbus have large and well established campuses. Despite such prominence, they certainly are not immune from the current budget pinch that’s cramping the community college system statewide.

But at least they and other large campuses that are part of the most extensive community college system in the country are not in danger of closing their doors. That can’t be said for a number of the smallest campuses in the system.

Facing a 2-percent budget cut, the same as other public colleges and universities in the state, Ivy Tech is working to hold down or reduce costs on many fronts. One way would be to close some of the smaller, more remote class sites, a proposal now under study.

This would be putting into reverse what clearly is an effective means to expand higher education to include greater numbers of Hoosiers — more critical than ever in the 21st century — and to meet the need for retraining workers displaced by the incredibly fast changing employment environment.

Now, some of those sites might be saved through local intervention, with municipal or county governments working with business groups to offer rent reductions on buildings the college needs for classrooms. Those communities know how urgent it is to keep post-secondary training close to home. Skills that once lasted a working lifetime can be outdated as quickly as it takes to install a new software package. High school graduates can no longer settle for their diplomas. They need more in order to adapt to an ever evolving work environment.

Those farthest away from large Ivy Tech campuses need access to higher education as much as any student. A close-by mini campus provides that. A larger campus an hour away severely restricts it.

If, as the state has emphasized again and again, education and flexibility are today’s keys to success, such access must be kept available to all. Education at any level is the last place to look for cash during a squeeze. Reducing community college access for those in remote corners of the state, where opportunity already is limited, would be a mistake and step backward.

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