Welcome to Higher Ed 101 Plus!

The story is an old one, repeated by many people. Years ago when most states were developing comprehensive community college systems, Indiana and Purdue universities utilized their considerable clout to steer the Hoosier state toward the direction of regional campuses.

The IU entities in Richmond, Kokomo, New Albany and elsewhere undoubtedly brought increased educational opportunities to those areas. The same with Purdue’s outreaches in Westville, Hammond and beyond. Meanwhile, Ivy Tech State College fulfilled its vocational training role.

Flash forward to this decade, a changing economy with different workforce needs and a still ongoing transformation to Ivy Tech Community College. But as the two-year campuses evolved, they found themselves in competition with the regional entities. Similar programs. Similar degrees.

As Nasser Paydar, Indiana University East chancellor, says in our current BizVoice: "We used to have an associate degree in nursing. Ivy Tech has an associate degree in nursing. What this did was confuse the students in the first place. Why would two state institutions within walking distance have the same degree program, accredited by the same agency?

Good question. It’s not that way in Richmond anymore. Missions have been differentiated and employer needs met more effectively in Columbus. Those efforts are highlighted in an in-depth BizVoice article. And it’s promising to see new regional initiatives announced by both Indiana and Purdue earlier this month.

Indiana has outstanding colleges and universities. The goal of all is to have an equally outstanding system that fully serves all students. Chamber education expert Derek Redelman discussed the importance in this two-minute video previewing the BizVoice examination.

As the higher education discussion continues, we’re proud to have the presidents of some of Indiana’s leading public institutions offer their insights this week. We’ll have a couple of guest blogs each day (sign up under Feeds in the upper right corner to receive e-mail updates of new postings) and encourage you to read, learn and comment. Thanks for helping to Build a Better Indiana.

Cover Subject is Education Innovator

Take a look at the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice magazine covers (71 of them over the past 12 years) and you won’t see a lot of people. We don’t have anything against people, particularly Hoosier leaders in their field. We interview them, we gather their insights and we focus on telling good stories.

The lack of photographs is due more to the absence of a full-time staff photographer and the presence of a very talented creative director who has been involved in all but the first two issues of those 71. Tony Spataro won’t want me to mention his name (yeah, right), but I digress.

Our March-April issue does feature a photo of someone making a difference in higher education. His name is Nasser Paydar and he is chancellor of the Indiana University East campus in Richmond. His neighbor, literally across the parking lot, is Ivy Tech Community College.

Paydar eliminated associate degrees and remedial classes (why duplicate what Ivy Tech is doing, he says) and turned his focus to partnerships. He’s giving up potential students in the short run but gaining a strong pipeline for his campus’ bachelor and advanced degree programs. And, most important, he’s operating with the top priority on the students. Sounds like a simple concept, but it’s not one that is always followed.

The in-depth story on higher education efficiency and effectiveness is titled Breaking Down Walls: Columbus, Richmond Show the Way. Give it a read and let us know what you think.