Monday Aug 26, 2013
As faculty and staff members of Indiana University Northwest anticipated the start of the Fall 2013 semester, Chancellor William J. Lowe set the tone for a productive academic year with his first-ever state of the campus address.
Emphasizing the notion that “Every Student Matters,” Lowe reminded his colleagues that regardless of their roles at the university, each employee of IU Northwest has a profound impact on student success.
Larissa Dragu, president of the Student Government Association, took that idea a step further by reminding the group that the cycle of learning never ends, thereby making everyone in the room a student.
“Encourage every student that you come in contact with,” she said, “because someone is looking up to you.”
Lowe educated the campus about the latest enrollment figures, budgetary matters, recent and future improvements, and the strategic priorities that drive the campus mission. He provided a profile of today’s student population and discussed the importance and impact of extending our intellectual capital and resources outside the immediate campus borders.
Enrollment and budgets
Enrollments for the Fall 2013 semester are robust, Lowe said, and on target to support the campus’s FY2014 budget.
The Chancellor credited the Enrollment Management Group for helping to create a sound basis for the campus’s growth plans. Balancing the operating budget makes room, he said, for two important investments – a salary increase and staffing to ramp up campus fundraising efforts.
Still, Lowe emphasized that while IU Northwest begins the academic year in a sound position, the campus’s financial situation is still “delicate.” As such, he asked for responsible stewardship of our resources. To ensure this, Lowe said a thorough expenditure review is underway by campus leaders in preparation for the FY2015 budget preparation.
Lowe reminded his colleagues of the campus’s strategic priorities, established in order to help guide the institution’s activities and ensure they are contributing to IU Northwest’s educational mission and vision.
The strategic priorities include:
- Student academic success as our primary mission and purpose;
- An academic experience grounded in curricular, teaching and scholarly excellence;
- Community-based engagement that supports student learning, faculty scholarship and regional development;
- An outstanding institutional infrastructure;
- Investment in campus human resources; and
- Financial planning that supports long-term student success.
A multitude of ways to impact a diverse student body
Lowe educated the faculty and staff about IU Northwest’s population, half of which are traditionally underrepresented students and about two-thirds are women. At least a third of IU Northwest’s students attend on a part-time basis. This reflects a population that balances their classes with jobs and family obligations.
He reminded the faculty and staff that engaging in issues of diversity, equity and inclusion is a part of each of our campus roles.
Lowe continued to stress that working toward student success is a crucial part of all of our jobs. He said that we all play a role, in some way, of connecting students with their respective academic programs and ensuring that the all-important first year experience is rewarding and productive.
Lowe said that while the faculty certainly has the lead role in enabling student success, others at all levels of the institution contribute. Programs like the Center for Innovation and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CISTL) and membership in IU’s Faculty Colloquium on Excellence (FACET), for instance, serve to strengthen IU Northwest’s faculty which in turn impacts students’ academic success.
Last year, IU Northwest faculty members contributed 100 articles, 14 books, 18 book chapters, and numerous other scholarly works to the collective body of academic achievements that make up IU Northwest’s renowned faculty.
In fact, Lowe said that “IU Northwest is the best example of the teacher-scholar ideal with which I have been associated during my career.”
The importance of community engagement
Lowe noted that students contributed 81,000 service hours last year. The high-impact learning that results when service projects are linked to academic programs is by itself, enough to make community engagement an integral part of the campus’s mission and purpose. But there is an even greater purpose to investing in efforts aimed at serving the surrounding community, Lowe explained.
“The health, quality of life and future of the communities where our students live is a mutual interest of our campus and the Northwest Indiana region,” Lowe said. “IU Northwest and the communities that we serve count on each other and have a stake in each other’s successes. A thriving IU Northwest contributes to regional revitalization, in the same way that a prosperous region enhances the campus’s success.”
While colleagues and students do an admirable job of building community relationships in their everyday roles, the campus has the added service of The Center for Urban and Regional Excellence, which serves as the front door for the campus’s engagement with the community.
Lowe said that community-based partnerships have lent significant credibility in the communities IU Northwest serves.
As evidence of this, the Urban League of Northwest Indiana recently presented IU Northwest with a Community Relations Award. And, tangible results are being seen through several recent developments, such as the City of Gary’s University Park Plan, which focuses heavily on the vitality of IU Northwest’s immediate neighborhood, already making a visible mark with demolition and renovation work.
The approval of a replacement building for Tamarack Hall as well as $5 million earmarked for renovation and repairs at the Northwest campus are legislative victories that underscore the value of maintaining strong relationships.
“In a still difficult environment, IU Northwest is building a sound, bright future for our campus that enhances the larger Northwest Indiana region,” Lowe said. “As our new and returning students arrive for classes next week, I am very confident that they can look forward to a wonderful academic experience. But please remember, as our students, once again, enliven the campus, that each of those students matter and the good work of each of us counts in enabling each of them to have a successful, satisfying academic career with us.”