Ceremony preceded by a public ‘campus and community conversation’ facilitated by consultant Jeff Johnson
A sense of IU pride and celebration filled the Savannah Recreation Center on the campus of Indiana University Northwest on Friday, Oct. 29, as more than 300 students, faculty, staff, and community leaders came together to witness the installation of William J. Lowe as the sixth chancellor of the university.
Music played by the Indiana University brass ensemble opened the formal event where IU Northwest academic deans and faculty, as well as university and community leaders and alumni, marched in with the same pomp and circumstance as one would witness at a graduation.
IU President Michael McRobbie opened the ceremony by reminding all that an installation is an important event in the life of a university.
“For both the campus and the university as a whole, it (an Installation) offers a moment to measure the great distance we have travelled and the great opportunities to which we can still look forward,” McRobbie said.
Also recognizing this momentous landmark in IU Northwest’s history, Indiana State Representative Charlie Brown (D-3rd) called the ceremony, “a proud day for all involved in the institution and a part of the greater community.”
A renewed partnership between IU Northwest and the Northwest Indiana region was the common theme for the ceremony, and at the ‘campus and community conversation’ that took place earlier in the afternoon.
Lowe, who began his duties on July 1, said he understands the true need for a strong and healthy relationship between the university and the Northwest Indiana region.
“A priority that I brought with me is a commitment to community and civic engagement,” Lowe said. “IU Northwest has, over the last half-century, developed deep community-based connections that demonstrate that the campus is a critical part of the future of Northwest Indiana and the City of Gary. But I have learned very quickly that the expectations and the needs in our region for even greater engagement are very high.
“In the regional setting, IU Northwest is important as a thriving campus and point of access to the Indiana University academic experience,” Lowe continued. “A former colleague at Metropolitan State and Gary native who grew up near the campus, Dr. Daryl Parks, describes IU Northwest as a “lighthouse.” But we also bring intellectual and human resources (including our students) to the task of building Northwest Indiana’s future. I am very serious about my commitment to community-based engagement and I think that my IU Northwest colleagues are too.”
Lowe’s interest in further strengthening the campus’s relationship with the greater community was most visible earlier in the day during the ‘campus and community conversation.’ The public event, entitled, ‘IU Northwest and Community-Based Engagement: Building Our Future Together,’ was facilitated by nationally known consultant Jeff Johnson. The event highlighted ways that IU Northwest, the City of Gary and the Northwest Indiana region can foster greater partnership and collaboration for the benefit of all.
Johnson opened up each topic and allowed both an IU Northwest and a community representative to further address and discuss their designated area of expertise, including Economic Impact; Environment; Educational Access and Advancement; and Arts and Cultural Enrichment.
Linda Woloshansky, president and CEO of Valparaiso-based Center of Workforce Innovations, served as the community representative for the Economic Impact topic. She said nearly 70,000 adults live in the City of Gary but only 7,900, or 9 percent, have a degree. She said IU Northwest could transform Gary by increasing the number of adults with a degree to 15 percent. She said that would have a $2.5 billion economic impact on the community.
Making degrees more accessible and affordable to all students is also one of Lowe’s goals, and part of the reason he was so interested in leading an institution within an urban environment.
“It is energizing to meet this diverse region on campus every day among our students,” Lowe said. “IU Northwest and its students tell us a great deal about the future of comprehensive higher learning in the 21st-century. The diversity of our students, across many dimensions, makes us distinctive, even among IU regional campuses.”
Highlighting some campus demographics for IU Northwest, Lowe mentioned the average age of an IU Northwest student is 26.7 years, suggesting significant numbers of adult learners. Lowe further explained the need for the university to have a broader, more adaptable understanding of adult learners.
“Highly-motivated, hard-working adult learners may be mid-career professionals or recent high-school graduates who must work to make their college attendance possible and, very often, fulfill other family responsibilities,” Lowe said. “We must recognize the ways in which our students, particularly those at a campus such as IU Northwest, occupy significant adult roles.”
Lowe humbly explained his firsthand knowledge of adult learner’s scheduling, financial and accessibility needs. He explained that his father enrolled at the City University of New York five years before Lowe himself went off to Michigan State.
“He enrolled for one course at a time and Dad, my brothers (John and Tom) and me were all in college at the same time,” Lowe explained. “Dad finished his master’s degree, for which he insisted on writing a thesis, the year after my Ph.D. was conferred.”
Lowe acknowledged that while IU tuition continues to be affordable, IU Northwest students, particularly adult learners, have high levels of financial need, and therefore private giving to support scholarship funds must be a high priority for all friends of IU Northwest. Showing his dedication to both the university and the community, the Chancellor announced that he and his wife, Pamela, are endowing a $25,000 scholarship fund to support IU Northwest students’ academic success.
The scholarship provided by Lowe and his wife will further assist the educational experience of several IU Northwest students whose lives may closely model that of IU Northwest President of the Student Government Association, Jessica Flores.
Flores, one of many speakers during the Installation, explained that her time at IU Northwest has been both enjoyable and affordable.
“By doing well in my course work and with support of faculty and administration, I have been awarded a few scholarships,” Flores added. “This support has been greatly appreciated and has allowed me to stay close to home, take care of my family, and still participate in campus life.
“The staff in the Office of Student Life and Athletics has challenged me to expand my horizons, while at the same time supporting me through some of life’s harsher challenges,” she said. “As I complete the final year of my major in anthropology and psychology, I know that the rich experiences that I have will serve me well in my career and professional pursuits beyond Indiana University.”
Closing the celebratory event, Vice Chancellors Diane Hodges and Joe Pellicciotti presented Lowe with a portrait painted by alumna and student Renae Ricks-Miller. The painting, which is a longstanding tradition that honors IU Northwest chancellors, will be on permanent display with all preceding chancellors’ portraits in the Library Conference Center.
Additional remarks during the Installation came from Pastor of Trinity Missionary Baptist Church Rev. Dwight Gardner; Mayor of the City of Gary Honorable Rudy Clay; IU Northwest Faculty Organization President Charles Gallmeier, Ph.D.; IU Northwest Director of Alumni Relations Paulette LaFata-Johnson; IU Northwest Office of Registrar Records Clerk Levonda Moseley; IU Northwest Alumnus and member of the Chancellor’s Society Garry Aloia; and Pastor of St. Barnabas in the Dunes Episcopal Church Rev. Dolores Wiens.
Additional speakers during the ‘campus and community conversation’ who brought their perspectives to the audience included Professor of Marketing Subir Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., School of Business and Economics (Economic Impact); Assistant Professor of Environmental Affairs Ellen Szarleta, J.D., Ph.D, School of Public and Environmental Affairs (Environment); Dorreen Carey, City of Gary Department Environmental Affairs (Environment); Assistant Professor of Education Rochelle Brock, Ph.D., School of Education and the Urban Teacher Education Program (Educational Access and Advancement); Sharon Johnson-Shirley, Ph.D., Lake Ridge Schools (Educational Access and Advancement); Associate Professor of Communication Lori Montalbano, Ph.D., Department of Communication and Performing Arts (Arts and Cultural Enrichment); and Larry Brewer, South Shore Dance Alliance at the South Shore Centre for the Arts (Arts and Cultural Enrichment).
Chancellor Lowe closed his Installation address by stating, “So there is not a shortage of challenges, but I can only be encouraged by the enthusiasm and energy that I have found among campus colleagues and partners in the Northwest Indiana community. We will work hard and creatively to succeed in this new environment, in behalf of our students and our region. I am very proud to join my colleagues, on campus and in the community, in this important work.”