Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2014 12:00 am
It’s almost impossible to imagine how the Bloomington campus of Ivy Tech Community College will improve under a new structure that combines it with the Southwest (Evansville and Tell City) region. We’re not familiar enough with the other campuses to say whether they might get positives from such an arrangement, but it’s tough to see it polishing the shine we’ve come to expect from the local campus.
Ivy Tech Community College’s State Board of Trustees voted last week to make the change. One chancellor will oversee the region, and presidents will be put in place on the individual campuses. Administration will be split between the Bloomington and Evansville campuses, and the chancellor, of course, will need to choose between two cities more than 100 miles apart for his or her home base.
Timing of the move follows shortly after the retirements of Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart and Southwest Chancellor Daniel Schenk.
Consolidations virtually always are based on finding efficiencies to save money. Having one business office for two campuses is cheaper than having a business office on each one, for instance. That’s just one example. There are many more.
But concentrating responsibilities in fewer locations can lead to lesser service, for the customer, more rigid administration and less creativity. We’d hate to see that going forward from Ivy Tech.
The story of Ivy Tech in Bloomington has been one of steady growth and success during the past decade. Exploding enrollment, huge increases in course offerings, a strong commitment to student engagement, an emphasis on entrepreneurship, improved cooperation with Indiana University and the ability to respond to local and area workforce needs have combined to make Ivy Tech a strong, committed part of the community.
How much of that success could be attributed to the autonomy and nimbleness of the campus? Our guess is a lot.
Statewide Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder, not surprisingly, touted the changes as the right direction for Ivy Tech.
“Ivy Tech will continue its focus on being responsive to the needs and workforce development efforts in Evansville and the surrounding areas along with Bloomington and its surrounding communities,” he said in a news release. “These changes will allow us to best assess existing skill gaps between available jobs and Indiana’s workforce in these markets and partner with business and industry to fill those gaps.”
As the Bloomington example has shown, workforce development is far from the only strength that can exist on the community college’s campuses. While it’s premature to become too worried, it’s not too early to strike a cautionary pose. This structural overhaul that consolidates administration in the name of efficiency must not be allowed to harm the advances that have turned Ivy Tech into such an asset in our community.