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IU, IU Northwest align with Gary city leaders in inaugural ‘Leadership IU’ program

Partnership hailed as an unprecedented way to drive positive change in communities

Monday Apr 01, 2013

For the past several months, leaders from across Indiana University’s seven campuses have become students themselves as they participated in “Leadership IU”. Leadership IU was developed by the Kelley School of Business, with the support of the Office of the President, the Provost, and Senior IU Administrators. Leadership IU is an Action-Learning based program focused on developing the leadership skills of IU faculty and staff, who apply their learning to create positive and significant impact for Indiana University and its partners.

For Indiana University Northwest, “Leadership IU” became a vehicle for creating a dynamic partnership with the City of Gary. Because of the Northwest campus’s notable commitment to community engagement initiatives, IU Northwest’s team invited leaders from the City of Gary to partner. “Leadership IU Northwest” took on a distinctive character that could serve as a model for future city-university partnerships.

According to IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe, “the opportunity to adapt our participation in Leadership IU, to include a still-deeper partnership with the City of Gary, reflects both our campus’s community-based engagement priorities and IU President Michael McRobbie’s commitment to support the city. It is also critical that we always have a willing, reliable partner in Mayor Freeman-Wilson.”

With leadership from IU Northwest’s Center for Urban and Regional Excellence, which is dedicated to co-creating solutions and addressing challenges in our communities, a team was assembled that is comprised of both university and city leaders.

The Leadership IU Northwest team consists of IU Northwest faculty members Subir Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., Atta Ceesay, Ph.D., and Ellen Szarleta, Ph.D., J.D. The City of Gary representation includes department heads and key personnel: Richard Leverett, Law Department; Lauren Riga, Environmental Affairs and Green Urbanism; Joe Van Dyk, Zoning; and Steven Marcus, Building Department. Sean Olson of IU’s Kelley School of Business serves as the team’s coach.

On March 22, the Leadership IU Northwest group presented the joint vision for supporting sustainable economic development in the city to IU Northwest Chancellor Lowe, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and John S. Applegate, IU’s Executive Vice President for University Regional Affairs. That plan will now be rolled out in greater detail for those invited to the Chancellor’s Commission on Community Engagement meeting on Wednesday, April 3 at IU Northwest.

At the April 3rd meeting, the Kelley School of Business’s Executive Director for Executive Education, John F. Cady, will discuss Leadership IU, Mayor Freeman-Wilson will present the city’s views on collaboration for economic development, and the Leadership IU Northwest team will detail a collaborative decision-making model for better economic development decisions and present a simulation of how the process would work.

Szarleta, director of the Center and a faculty member in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), said that city officials and university leaders will soon get down to the heavy work of implementing what is being hailed as an innovative way of thinking about economic development.

“New ventures that come to the city should be evaluated closely for their economic, social and environmental impacts,” Szarleta said. “Traditionally, the way in which city and university leaders interact is based on the idea that a university is a form of a consultant to government.  But, under the model developed by the Leadership IU Northwest team, the City of Gary and IU Northwest will co-create solutions and address challenges together. ”

To accomplish this, Szarleta said, the team created a framework that will help determine a proposed new business’s or non-profit venture’s value-added to the city in three vital areas -- economic, social and environmental sustainability.

“Economic development is not just about making money, but also investing in the community,” Szarleta said. “By posing some key questions about a project proposal using this triple bottom-line approach, a culture supportive of sustainable development will be created.”


About Indiana University Northwest -- What Matters. Where it Matters.

As one of seven Indiana University campuses, IU Northwest leads the region as the premier, urban campus dedicated to serving the needs of more than 6,000 students from the state’s most diverse and industrialized region. Committed to helping its local Northwest Indiana communities thrive, IU Northwest is best-known for providing a personal, quality and affordable education close to home.  IU Northwest positions its students to be leaders with more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional degree options available from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Business and Economics, and the School of Education. The campus is also host to IU School of Medicine-Northwest, which actively involves students in research and local healthcare needs through its four-year medical doctorate program. For more information, please visit

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