Chamber on Higher Ed Commission’s New Rule to Boost Associates Degrees

96631972The Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) today approved allowing the state’s four-year universities to grant associate degrees to qualifying students and released an evaluation of Ivy Tech Community College (a result of 2015 state legislation). Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar reacts to both items:

“Postsecondary attainment continues to be a major concern for the state. The goal we set in our Indiana Vision 2025 long-range economic development plan was for 60% of our residents to have a quality credential or a degree by that time; currently that number is under 35%.

“A critical piece of the solution is granting more associate degrees for students with the appropriate credit; that’s a policy we designated as a top legislative priority in the 2016 General Assembly. The rule CHE passed today can go a long way toward achieving that goal.

“Now, Indiana’s state-supported four-year universities will have the opportunity to award associate degrees to its students who clearly are no longer pursuing their education (termed “stop-out” students) but already have completed the appropriate coursework.

“This will make those students more marketable to employers and may even lead some to rekindle their learning at the college level.”

On Ivy Tech performance report:

“With today’s workforce skills challenges, the importance of the Ivy Tech mission has never been greater. This evaluation of student outcomes and recommended program enhancements will only serve to increase the effectiveness of Indiana’s community college system.

“Given the continuous improvement model that is essential for all educators and businesses, we applaud the work that has been done and we are confident Ivy Tech leaders will use the information to benefits its students and all stakeholders.”

Ivy Tech ‘Switchboard’ to Help Grow Businesses in Monroe County

The Switchboard is an online portal designed to connect entrepreneurs and business owners to the local resources they need to start or grow a business in Monroe County.

It was created through a partnership with The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech, Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, the City of Bloomington and through grants provided by the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and Duke Energy.

Anyone interested in being a part of or contributing to Bloomington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is encouraged to list yourself or your organization as a resource on The Switchboard to allow entrepreneurs to access your business or service (or just connect with you over coffee). To create a profile, just visit the site and click the “list a resource” button on the home page.

Furthermore, see the video below to learn more about The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus:

A Day to Remember in Evansville

evilleArmed with my Starbuck’s latte, I stepped out into the cold. It was mid-January and I was headed to Evansville to conduct interviews for our education/workforce development issue of BizVoice® magazine.

I started the day around 7 a.m. and didn’t pull into my driveway until shortly after 7 p.m. that evening. You know what? It was worth it. In fact, it was unforgettable.

First up: Ivy Tech’s College Connection Coach initiative. The program places Ivy Tech employees in high schools to promote a culture of college attainment and to provide career counseling and advisement. Launched last fall, it stresses collaboration with guidance counselors, administrators and teachers.

Carrie Feltis, a College Connection Coach in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, spends two days a week at both Central and Harrison High Schools. While visiting Central, I watched her interact with a senior named Lindsey, with whom she’s worked closely. What a rapport! They shared laughs – lots of them – and proudly conveyed Lindsey’s many accomplishments. Among them: She’ll be the first member of her family to graduate from high school.

Next was a visit to Ivy Tech Community College-Southwest/Wabash Valley Region hosted by chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel, a former state legislator and Evansville mayor. He passionately expressed the importance of the program and its potential impact in leading students down a path that includes postsecondary education.

Then it was time to dive into my next story. It was time to step into Signature School.

Signature, the state’s first charter school, is nationally recognized for its challenging curriculum and unique culture. Located in downtown Evansville, its close proximity to libraries, the YMCA, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and more provides the backdrop for learning beyond the doors of Signature’s two buildings.

Executive Director Jean Hitchcock beamed as we stepped into dynamic classrooms and met the people who create Signature’s success. The teachers are passionate. The students are spirited. It’s a tight-knit team that lives by the Signature Way.

If there’s one word to sum up my impressions of Signature, it’s this: brilliant.

Brilliant minds. Brilliant opportunities. That’s Signature.

Postsecondary Pathways Help Students Achieve Success; Registration Opportunities Coming to Batesville, Muncie

wMaking connections. It’s important to do so in so many ways. I’ll spare you the analogies in getting right to the point that tying education to careers — in other words showing students how their time in the classroom can lead to workplace success — is one of the most critical connections.

The Indiana Chamber is pleased to part with a variety of organizations, led by the Indiana Youth Institute, in presenting regional Postsecondary Pathways programs in 2015. Two successful events took place in late 2014 at Subaru of Indiana Automotive and the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center.

Registration is now open for two February programs:

  • February 11 at Batesville High School, including  a tour of Hillenbrand, Inc.
  • February 18 at Ivy Tech Community College in Muncie with a tour of Magna Powertrain, Inc.

Educators, employers, youth-serving professionals and government leaders come together at each daylong event. The goal: Enhance the ability to educate and train students to successfully pursue the postsecondary careers that exist within the region and state.

Additional program partners include: the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis, Indiana’s Education Roundtable, the Indiana Works Councils, Ivy Tech and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

‘Indiana Competitiveness: What Works’ Event Set for Sept. 15 in Lafayette

Ivy Tech’s Lafayette campus will host Indiana Competitiveness: What Works on Monday, Sept. 15. The event, hosted by GE and Ivy Tech, will feature remarks from Rep. Todd Rokita and a keynote address from a senior leader at GE.

Additionally, there will be a panel discussion and networking opportunities for supply chain leaders and current and prospective suppliers. Speakers will discuss the state of manufacturing in Indiana and how it can be enhanced to compete in a global economy. Rep. Susan Brooks will also be in attendance and other members of Congress have been invited.

When: Monday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: 3101 S. Creasy Lane in Lafayette
RSVP: If you plan to attend, RSVP to [email protected] by Sept. 12 with your name, title, organization and email address.

Guest Blog: College Course Costs Not Always What They Appear to Be

Budgeting for college can be tricky business. Students and families must take into consideration tuition rates, living expenses, books, transportation and more, but even the most diligent financial planners cannot be fully effective when undisclosed costs are imposed.
This summer, I enrolled in an online class at Ivy Tech to fulfill a requirement before fall semester. As Ivy Tech reports, undergraduate in-state tuition is $116 per credit hour, so I anticipated a bill of roughly $350 for the course.  However, including fees and homework access, the course has cost roughly $550.
Where did the extra $200 go? Roughly half went to mandatory fees including a technology fee and student life fee, which are listed below the tuition chart on Ivy Tech’s web site. The other half purchased access to MyMathLab, an online portal that houses required homework and quizzes. This course is not $116 per credit hour but closer to $183 … and that doesn’t include the book or exam proctor fees.
Unfortunately, students (at most, if not all, colleges and universities) are all too familiar with these additional, often hidden, costs of school, both institutional and course-specific. While institution-wide mandatory fees are generally listed on a bill statement, they are not always included in the per-hour tuition figure. Furthermore, course-specific and professor-specific costs – such as access to homework and class participation clickers – are often unknown until the first day of class. For many students, finding a couple hundred more dollars for each class simply is not a financial possibility.
But Indiana colleges and universities can make a few minor changes to assist students in their financial planning. First, institutions must make tuition and mandatory fees more transparent by reporting them as one figure. While most institutions combine tuition and fees for estimations of annual cost of attendance, fees are often left out of per credit hour figures, making the tuition rate misleading and confusing to students. Second, professors should report any additional fees required for their classes at the time of enrollment to allow students to make the best financial decision for them.
As college costs continue to rise, students and families must have accurate and complete information to effectively budget. Transparency in all fees will help them financially prepare for school.


Hannah Rozow is the student representative on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. A senior at Indiana University in Bloomington, she is pursuing a double major in economics and political science with a minor in Spanish.

Ivy Tech Gets Cooking in Historic Indy Hotel

I attended a Yelp Indy event last Thursday at Ivy Tech, which showcased the school’s new student-run Courses restaurant and bakery (housed in its culinary school at 28th & Meridian in downtown Indy).

Led on a tour by chef Thom England, we stopped by several stations and sampled a variety of appetizers and wines, all before having the pleasure of eating and drinking at Courses, located in the penthouse. With Sun King brews on tap, unique cuisine options and a wonderful view of downtown, it made for a delightful evening. It’s a very impressive facility in which Indiana’s future cuisinal artists can perfect their craft.

Here’s more info on the restaurant, which I highly recommend you frequent based on my experience. Also, for those Hoosier history enthusiasts like me, here’s a bit about the building the restaurant and Ivy Tech’s culinary school now reside in:

In the 1880s Gilbert Van Camp developed a method to can fruits and vegetables for the family store, located in Indianapolis.  He made his fortune during the Civil War, as this canning method made it possible to send beans to the soldiers in the field.  In the 1880s, Gilbert and his wife, Hester, purchased the property at 2820 North Meridian Street and built their mansion.  It remained a private resident until the early 20th Century, when it became the home of the International Typographical Union.

The Stouffer Restaurants purchased the property in the 1960s.  The mansion was demolished and the Stouffer Hotel was built in 1965.  The focal point of the hotel was the penthouse restaurant, The Ramsgate, which featured woodwork, stained glass and a fireplace from the original mansion, as well as an amazing view of the downtown skyline.  The hotel quickly became one of the prominent locations for weddings, proms and other celebratory events in the city.  The hotel was also a favorite lodging site for local and national celebrities when they visited Indianapolis. Richard Lugar held his inauguration celebration at the hotel when he was elected as mayor of the City of Indianapolis.  Dolly Parton and the Osmonds stayed at the hotel, and legend has it that Elvis stayed on the 11th floor of the hotel in 1977 when he was performing in Indianapolis – a performance that would turn out to be his last live performance.  The hotel remained popular until the mid-1980s, as the popularity of downtown grew and became the focal point of the city.  The hotel closed in the late 1980s.

The building remained vacant until the early 1990s, when it was purchased by Bill Gothard Ministries, who established the Indianapolis Training Center.  The Christian-based ministry provided vocational, as well as Christian-based education to at-risk youth and families.

With a $23 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Ivy Tech Community College acquired the property in 2010 and renovated the facility for classroom and conference space.  The Corporate College and Culinary Center opened in August 2012, and houses the region’s Corporate College, Hospitality Administration Program and a conference center.  With state-of-the art technology, the center provides Ivy Tech’s Corporate College the opportunity to provide training and development solutions for Indiana businesses through specialized courses and certifications.  The center also features a student operated fine-dining restaurant, Courses Restaurant, and bakery/café, Courses Bakery, as well as a conference cente, with over 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space available to the public.

On this topic, I’ve also penned an article about Harrison College for the upcoming January/February issue of BizVoice magazine, which will include information on that school’s renowned culinary program as well.

Perfect: Richmond Brother/Sister Tandem Boast Remarkable Attendance Record

Getting up and going to school was not often easy. Heck, it’s not even easy for many adults to go to work — and they get paid. But this story about Anthony and Alexa Thompson in the Richmond Palladium-Item is quite eye-opening. Not only did Anthony recently graduate without missing a day of school in 13 years, his younger sister is one year away from accomplishing the same feat. Kudos to their no-excuse-taking mom — and their remarkable immune systems.

Anthony Thompson graduated from Richmond High School this month without missing a day of school.

Actually, not once in 13 years.

In fact, he only came close once, said his mother, Sonja Thompson.

“When Anthony was 8, he played Pop Warner football. He had recovered a football and he fractured his elbow,” she said. “We stayed in the ER until 3 a.m., but he still got up to go to school. I think the motivation was that he wanted to show everyone his cast.”

But the 18-year-old Thompson said he simply didn’t want to be out of the loop.
“I just would feel like I’m missing out on something,” he said.

Anthony remains soft-spoken, even surprised, when asked about the feat in the weeks following his graduation.

“I hadn’t really thought about it,” he said. “I just came to school every day.”
Plenty of others, though, think pretty highly of the accomplishment.

At RHS’ commencement, Thompson was honored, along with several of his classmates, who had long-standing records of perfect attendance for five, even eight years.

But not 13.

“I think that is an admirable accomplishment because it’s one of the qualities employers seek in any new employee,” RHS Principal Rae Woolpy said. “Attendance is just an issue everywhere. To me, this is indicative of a dedication to not only his academics but forming a lifelong habit.”

He was also among the 82 students recognized in this year’s School is Cool drawing for a free car, which he did not win. Contestants qualified by having perfect attendance in their senior year and maintaining at least a 2.0 grade point average.

Sonja said she always stressed good attendance at school, but never had a goal for her son to achieve perfect attendance. That changed after Anthony started getting recognized in Texas, where they lived previously, for stringing several years of perfect attendance together.

“Pretty much, I was a mother of no excuses,” she said.

Anthony said he will take his attendance record with him first to Ivy Tech Community College and then, after one semester, transfer to Ball State University in Muncie. He plans to study sports management.

While he embarks on college, his 17-year-old sister, Alexa, will attempt to match his accomplishment. She has perfect attendance for 12 consecutive years.

Hat tip to Chamber President Kevin Brinegar for passing along the article.

Don’t Get Angry; Get Informed

I’ve been with the Indiana Chamber for just over a year now and in that time I’ve gotten to write about many of the Chamber’s initiatives and programs. The more I learn, the more fascinating I find the work they do for the state of Indiana. One that has really been catching my attention lately is Ready Indiana, the Chamber’s workforce education initiative.

In fact, I think of Ready Indiana every time I see anything about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.

I know it doesn’t seem these two have a common link, but hear me out. I’ve been reading through various news articles and posts on Facebook and talking to what supporters I can find to try and figure out what exactly the OWS group is upset about (still haven’t found one actual common theme – to me it just seems that everyone who is angry about anything has backed this movement).

One of the gripes I’ve seen most often, however, has been about the fact that college students are graduating with major amounts of debt to enter a job market without well-paying jobs. Another facet of the movement is upset about the fact that the older generation doesn’t have the skills for the new jobs that are being created, or the money to go out and get the necessary education.

These two points are where Ready Indiana (and any other workforce development or education initiative across the nation) comes in – opportunities do exist for the experienced workers and those who are right out of school. Below are just a few examples.

On the Ready Indiana web site,, there’s a long list of middle-skills jobs that Indiana can’t do without (computer support specialists, nurses, fire fighters, police officers, lab technicians, heavy truck drivers, and many more). The list includes the number of job openings in each field and the median earnings for 2009 – the lowest median earning on that list is $33,407; the highest is $67,280.

These middle-skill jobs require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree. Employers, community colleges, private career schools and apprenticeship programs offer the necessary training and skills for these careers. High schools are also beginning to offer more technical courses so that students don’t have to graduate and venture into the job market with huge debt.

To combat the workforce skills gap, Ready Indiana recently announced a partnership with the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), which will allow employers to train their current and even prospective employees in-house through a nationally-recognized training program for manufacturing and logistics. On-the-job training grants are available, and the completed certification is also good for six credits to Ivy Tech Community College.

There are jobs available – in fact, a common complaint by employers is that they cannot find qualified workers to fill their many open positions. This BizVoice® story that appeared in the July-August edition features Westfield Steel and is a good example of Hoosier employers practically begging for qualified applicants.

These are just a few small hints into what is available to Hoosiers who are willing to do the research and find existing job opportunities. Personal responsibility is an important key to finding employment, whether you’re fresh out of school or making a comeback into the workforce.

Protesting might get your anger or frustrations out, but it doesn’t give you an income, access to health insurance or a sense of security. Utilizing resources like Ready Indiana and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, however, can lead to those important measures.

Chamber Teams on Plan Calling for Workforce Solutions

Community colleges are not lacking in attention. Indiana has a rapidly growing two-year system in Ivy Tech, which has surged the last three-plus years under the leadership of longtime Indiana automotive industry veteran Tom Snyder. President Obama has highlighted the need for additional community college graduates and certifications, including today’s White House Summit on Community Colleges.

While Snyder and an Ivy Tech student are among the attendees, the Indiana Chamber is also contributing to that effort (along with many other initiatives in higher education and workforce development). The Chamber’s Derek Redelman is one of more than 30 leaders from business, education and philanthropy that joined Business Champions, Inc. in submitting an action plan to today’s summit.

The plan outlines specific and concrete action steps employers, corporate philanthropy and community college trustees can take to build partnerships that prepare Americans for high-value jobs, expand opportunities for degrees and support entrepreneurs.

If current trends continue, our workforce will be less educated in 2020 than it is today. Among older adults – those between the ages of 55 and 64 – the United States ranks first with the highest percentage of postsecondary degree holders of all developed countries. However, among young adults aged 24 to 35, the U.S. ranks 12th.

Many of the recommendations for action stem from seven White House meetings Business Champions, Inc. facilitated earlier this year for the Workforce and Education Subcommittee of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

“It’s time to move from analyzing America’s skilled workforce problems to implementing solutions.” said Mary Gershwin, president of Business Champions, Inc. “Our workforce development problems can be solved, but business-as-usual will not work.  Leaders from community colleges, the business community and corporate philanthropy must become much more deliberate about working in partnership to build skills, degrees and entrepreneurial capacity. This brief provides a much-needed road map to results.”

Business Champions, Inc. is a national non-profit organization committed to building the skills of our workforce by mobilizing the influence of business leaders to stimulate new thinking, strengthen political will and reform systems so that more Americans earn valuable degrees and credentials after high school.

Read the action plan. Learn more about Business Champions, Inc.