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Legacy gift helps Tech build center

City grants $1 million for project

– Fort Wayne officials Tuesday announced the first grant from the Higher Education Opportunity Fund, a $1 million contribution to Indiana Tech’s $16 million Academic Center.

The center, to be on Indiana Tech’s campus just east of downtown, will house 13 classrooms, the Ravi and Eleanor Talwar Leadership Center, the Center for Creative Collaboration to support area entrepreneurs, a state-of-the-art education laboratory, a high-tech criminal science laboratory, an expanded library, an art gallery and a multiflex auditorium and theater.

Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder said the three-story building will be the campus’ crown jewel.

“The legacy and history of Indiana Tech has been involvement in the community,” Snyder said. “We had the ambition to be more involved, we just didn’t have the facilities.”

Snyder said the new building will allow the university to host math, science and physics programs for middle school and high school students, taught by Tech faculty and education majors. The programs will begin with a math course offered on weekends and during the summer – free to Fort Wayne students, particularly those families with financial challenges.

The program will collaborate with local school professionals and nonprofit groups such as the East Central Neighborhood Association, East Wayne Street Center and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne, officials said.

The Higher Education Opportunity Fund is $8 million set aside to be used as matching funds to help colleges and universities move facilities downtown. The $8 million comes from the Legacy Fund and money from the lease and sale of the city’s old electric utility, City Power & Light. There is about $47 million on hand; an additional $28 million is expected over the next 12 years.

Sharon Feasel, of the city’s redevelopment commission, said the Higher Education Opportunity Fund requires a three-to-one match of money and must be used for capital projects.

It is limited to $3 million for downtown projects or $1 million for areas surrounding downtown, she said, and should have a significant community impact.

“Indiana Tech’s commitment to Fort Wayne, our downtown and the East Central Neighborhood is exceptional,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement. “The new academic center will serve students, faculty, and the entire community. A commitment to education and learning makes Fort Wayne more attractive for new businesses and jobs and encourages a greater quality of life. We’re creating transformational change that is positioning us for future growth and success.”