Five decades ago, Ivy Tech had just 3,000 students and just one academic program. This year, some 92 Cass County residents were among the 684 receiving diplomas Saturday at the Kokomo region’s graduation — just one of 14 graduation ceremonies scheduled this month throughout the state.
Indiana’s statewide community college system celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Originally established March 15, 1963, as Indiana Vocational Technical College — or “I.V. Tech” — it’s grown to 31 campuses, including Logansport, which has one of the newest buildings.
But the Logansport campus isn’t actually a new Ivy Tech site, said Kevin Bostic, vice chancellor and campus dean.
It was first housed at the Cass County Garage more than 40 years ago. Then in 1983, the campus moved to its location at a former grocery store in Eastgate Plaza, where it expanded into neighboring office space and again into a former retail store, then building on a 3,000-square-foot addition.
With about 20,000 square feet and hovering just above 900 students, administrators broke ground on a new building in April 2008 that would quadruple the available classroom space.
Come January 2010, when classes moved to the new building, administrators were budgeting space and parking for about 990 students, Bostic said.
“I still remember the first year we opened up,” he recalled. “We had a little over 1,300 students. It was funny. The first night of classes, I looked out [the window] — there were people parking along the boulevard. We weren’t expecting to have that many.”
Since the 2010 enrollment spike, which Bostic attributes to having more available classroom space and thus more convenient class schedules, the campus has seen modest growth each year. The average age of local students is down to 25 years old and the number of guest students — those enrolled at another college but taking an Ivy Tech class — has risen.
“From a student standpoint, it’s been a huge help for us,” Bostic said of the new building.
It’s also taken on a “college feel,” he said — a trend Ivy Tech is pushing statewide.
“Students’ attitudes are better,” said Bostic. “Faculty love to teach here.”
Most students — 83 percent, by Bostic’s figures — attend part time, and about 60 percent are women. “We’ve always had more female students than we had male,” Bostic said, “and we’ve always had more evening classes than day classes.”
Two students pursuing certification as licensed practical nurses, Cathy Miller and Jennifer Warren, said Wednesday they were still discovering what was at the campus during their final semester.
Miller, 24, and Warren, 34, were studying for finals last week leading up to Saturday, when they said they’d be walking to receive their diplomas — providing they passed exams, they qualified.
Miller, a Royal Center resident, had taken one or two classes at the Eastgate location early on in her college career. Warren, from Fulton, will have spent about two and a half years pursuing the LPN certificate, taking classes at campuses throughout the Kokomo region.
“It’s nice,” Miller said of the campus. They recently enjoyed a pleasant walk around campus, she said, and she’s been impressed with the number of different events and activities available to students.
“They have a lot of extracurriculars that you wouldn’t expect at a community college,” she said, including both recreational events and clubs as well as volunteer opportunities.
With 16 full-time faculty, another 15 full-time staffers and about 80 part-time faculty instructors, Bostic anticipates the campus will continue strengthening its partnership with universities granting four-year degrees. He also looks implement an “institute model” for developing programs, he added.
The institute model structures classes in 40-week programs — about 30 class hours per week — for training students who want to enter a given career field quickly. Bostic is focusing on the possibility of developing a welding institute in Logansport similar to the one already operating in Terre Haute.
He’d also like to see the Logansport campus have its own two-year program leading to an agriculture degree, he said.
“That’s one of the things we’re looking to expand into,” Bostic said, but welding is the No. 1 priority. Starting the agriculture degree, which requires a farm as an outdoor lab, and a human services program similar to the one based in Kokomo will depend on funding from grants or private donations, he said.
“Me, I would like them sooner rather than later,” Bostic added.
Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.