Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 2:30 am | Updated: 6:27 am, Thu May 15, 2014.
The recent growth of Ivy Tech Community College, both physically and in importance to the state of Indiana and its citizens, has taken the spotlight in Bloomington this week.
A story in The Herald-Times Tuesday centered on the growth of the Hoosier Link program, which began in 2006 to help students who weren’t quite ready for Indiana University to meet needed requirements at Ivy Tech-Bloomington before transferring to IU.
The students live in IU residence halls but take Ivy Tech classes, which tend to be smaller and have easy access to tutors and mentors who can help them get started at the college before moving seamlessly on to the four-year university.
The program will add 41 slots for the next academic year, enlarging to 144 students.
Today at 2 p.m., ground will be broken for an 85,000-square-foot expansion to the main Ivy Tech campus on Daniels Way.
Rapid growth has pushed the need to expand the Connie and Steve Ferguson Academic Building, which opened in 2002.
Expansion talk began in 2007, but Ivy Tech didn’t receive the $20 million in needed funds from the state Legislature until last July.
Another $4 million is being raised to complete the $24 million project, which will nearly double the number of classrooms in the building to 57 and add 13 new labs, 33 new offices and a lecture hall and dining facility with a capacity of 400 people.
Then on Friday, Ivy Tech-Bloomington will confer 1,123 associate degrees and certifications.
Those graduates represent a wide range of ages, circumstances and backgrounds, including military veterans; previously laid-off workers who returned to Ivy Tech to be able to get back into the workforce; international students; and more traditional students for whom the community college fits their educational needs better than a four-year school.
Many of the students who will be recognized will continue their education toward a bachelor’s degree; many will take their new skills into a new or better job. Still others will graduate with more confidence than they’ve had in years after learning that, yes, they can return to school after an absence and learn new information and obtain new skills. And all have been exposed to Ivy Tech’s emphasis on civic engagement and community service .
It’s fitting that Ivy Tech will bestow honorary degrees on Chancellor Emeritus John Whikehart, Ivy Tech-Bloomington, and University Chancellor Emeritus, Kenneth Gros Louis, Indiana University. They were instrumental in creating the collaborative, cooperative educational opportunities now available to Ivy Tech students.
Those students and the whole community are better for their efforts.