Indiana’s statewide community college system hits a milestone this year – a half century of preparing Hoosiers for new opportunities. A Founder’s Day celebration on Wednesday at Ivy Tech-Northeast is one of dozens of events commemorating the occasion.
Indiana Vocational and Technical College was established on March 15, 1963, with a single academic program and an enrollment of about 3,000 students. It has evolved into the nation’s largest singly accredited community college system, with more than 125 areas of study and statewide enrollment of nearly 200,000.
Ivy Tech-Northeast has been a vibrant partner as one of 14 administrative regions, serving more than 10,000 students in nine northeast Indiana counties. Its Fort Wayne programs, which began in 1968, have enjoyed dramatic growth in recent years as Ivy Tech transitioned from its vocational and technical focus into a comprehensive community college system. The addition of the North Campus property at the site of the former developmental center, including the Steel Dynamics Inc. Keith E. Busse Technology Center, marked a major turning point for the regional college. The region also has a new Aviation Center at Smith Field and programs at the Public Safety Academy.
Ed Reed, who retired two years ago as executive director of marketing and communications, began his association with Ivy Tech-Northeast in 1978, when it was housed in the former Concordia High School at Maumee Avenue and North Anthony Boulevard. He notes that the number of northeast Indiana residents who have benefited from an Ivy Tech education is much higher than its graduate numbers would suggest.
When you look at the enrollment over the years, you see that many students attended until they were employable, then they left when they got a good job.
Career experience has been an emphasis in selecting Ivy Tech faculty and staff, Reed said.
In the early days, we didn’t care as much about degrees – we cared very much if they had job experience, he said. Even today, the people we have had long experience in the field.
Those experiences are helpful to students such as Mary Montes, who earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice in May. She is now studying political science at IPFW, where all of her credits seamlessly transferred toward her four-year degree. A native of Peru and a Northrop High School graduate, she chose Ivy Tech at an administrator’s urging and never regretted the decision.
When you are in the classroom, your instructor focuses on the individual, she said. They take the time to know you and to take an interest in your life.
Chancellor Jerrilee Mosier also noted the role of faculty and staff in serving students.
We have excellent faculty and excellent students, she said. What we do in service to those students and for the community are amazing. We provide the students an opportunity to obtain a career of their choice at a very reasonable cost. I’ve worked at a number of community college systems over the years – I’ve never worked with a finer group of faculty. They really do what I believe is the work at the heart of the community college: Serve students.
As the statewide system marks its anniversary, Mosier said she hopes the observance will broaden awareness of Ivy Tech.
I’m continually amazed about the number of people within our community who view us as the technical trade school of the region – not that that’s a bad thing. However, our missions and our programs are so much broader in how we can continue to serve students and the community.
Ivy Tech’s influence on northeast Indiana has been strong over the decades, and its student-focused mission and dedication to preparing graduates for both advanced study and careers suggest it will remain strong.
The public is invited to the celebration Wednesday. It’s set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Student Life Center, 4900 St. Joe Road, and 1:30-4 p.m. at the library on the Coliseum Campus, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd.