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‘An investment in a bright future’

IU Northwest celebrates $45M Arts & Sciences Building with partners at official dedication ceremony

Tuesday Aug 29, 2017

“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” said Gabriela Jaimes, quoting the late Nelson Mandela.

The Indiana University Northwest Student Government President stood before a crowd that filled the university’s new 500-seat theater to capacity. Her remarks were part of the official dedication ceremony of IU Northwest’s new $45 million Arts & Sciences Building on Friday, Aug. 25.

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From architects to educators, from artists to city leaders, those in attendance gathered to celebrate the culmination of what had been almost a nine-year journey, beginning with the day Tamarack Hall, the university’s first building and home to its beloved theater, was destroyed by floodwaters in 2008.

Since that day, officials worked to get the building’s construction into the state budget and rallied the support of elected leaders and the IU Board of Trustees. It now stands proudly on Broadway Avenue — a three-story, 126,300-square-foot marvel hailed as an anchor for the city of Gary’s redevelopment, a beacon for the economic health of the region, a hub for the arts, and the front door to higher education accessibility for all.

Drawing parallels between her own experience of navigating the college experience to that of the creation of the Arts & Sciences Building, Jaimes said that much like her own education, “there was a dream, and that dream became an idea, which led to the idea becoming a reality.”

As IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe noted, even more significant than the physical building and the modern technology inside, are the partnerships created that will continue to be a catalyst for positive impact across the entire region.

“The building celebrates partnership: in design; in spaces that encourage collaboration and learning across disciplines; with Ivy Tech Community College, to support our diverse students throughout their academic careers. And there is partnership with our neighborhood, the City of Gary and the region,” Lowe said.

Ivy Tech Community College occupies about 30 percent of the building. The south entrance brings visitors into the school’s enrollment services area, the first stop for students who will ultimately find a seamless pathway from their Ivy Tech associate degree to a four-year degree from IU Northwest. In many ways, officials say, Ivy Tech’s presence here helps make higher education more accessible to all.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie expressed gratitude toward the Indiana General Assembly and those who worked toward getting this great facility approved and paid for. He talked about how all of IU’s campuses take great pride in all they provide students and their communities, but that “nowhere is this impact more greatly felt than here in Gary and northwest Indiana.”

“Nearly three-quarters of IU Northwest graduates stay in the area, using their new skills and knowledge to contribute—along with current students, faculty, and staff—in countless ways, large and small, to the civic, economic, and cultural life of this region and the state.”

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson concurred, calling this day “a proud day in Gary, Indiana” largely because of its role as an “anchor in the rebuilding of this community.”

She explained that the money earmarked in the state budget, and specifically, an appropriation in the IU budget, was released largely because the City of Gary proved its own commitment toward redevelopment in the city.

The mayor talked about the experience of moving into a new house, closing your eyes and imagining what might become your favorite space.

“When I look at this building,” she said, “I think about the promise and possibility that it means for University Park, for the students who will be educated here, for the community that can see one more tangible beacon of hopes, and for all of the dreams and possibilities that this represents.”

With regard to the Theater at the Arts & Sciences Building, Mark Baer, assistant professor of acting and directing, shifted everyone’s thoughts to one of the building’s greatest assets, a gem the community had been without since the day the flood took the theater.

In thanking McRobbie, the trustees, elected leaders, and Chancellor Lowe for believing in the importance and power of stories in our learning community, Baer reminded us about the importance of the theater itself.

“When a community and a campus invest in a new theatre, they are creating a space for us all to share in the most basic of human endeavors:  They are creating a place for stories.  And in this space, we will learn more about each other and more about ourselves,” Baer said. “My sincerest hope is that each of you here today, and each member of our campus and community, will come and share many stories in this space.  I hope that as we breathe the same air and experience those stories together, our differences dissolve and we are bound together in a web of common humanity.”

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