Focus on Health This Summer

What’s the state of Indiana’s health?

Unfortunately, it’s not good. In fact, Indiana ranks at the bottom in several health metrics.

One of those is opioid abuse, which has received a lot of attention recently around the state. However, Hoosiers also continue to struggle with tobacco use and obesity (and diseases related to both), as well as high infant mortality rates.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar recently penned an article on how health is the missing piece of Indiana’s economic puzzle. For additional background and data on the issue, read it here.

The Alliance for a Healthier Indiana – made up of health care professionals, educators, business and community leaders – is aiming to educate the public and policymakers about these issues, grow local support and generally raise awareness of the dangers of our poor health, while also sharing ways Hoosiers can work together to improve these metrics.

With its State of Our Health Road Show, the Alliance is on the road this summer and fall, hosting free town hall meetings in all corners of the state.

The road show is in Fort Wayne today and will travel to Muncie tomorrow, June 13. Other June dates include Richmond on June 19 and Connersville on June 20. The complete schedule is available here; events go through October.

To see clips and video from earlier road shows, visit the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana’s Facebook page.

Founding members of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana include the Indiana Hospital Association, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana State Medical Association, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana and the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health.

Brinegar and Community Health Network President and CEO Bryan Mills recently spoke about the Alliance and the state of Indiana’s health during a segment on Inside INdiana Business. The segment gives an overview of the issues:

To learn more about the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana visit the web site at

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.

BizVoice Adds to Awards Total

Chalk up a couple more honors for BizVoice for work completed in 2010. Of four entrants in APEX 2011, two earned the Award of Excellence in their category. Taking the honors were:

  • July-August 2010 edition, Painting Indiana Green, in the Green Magazines & Journals category. The issue profiled numerous green initiatives and programs, in addition to offering analysis.
  • Editor Tom Schuman earned the award in news writing for "Breaking Down Walls: Columbus, Richmond Show the Way." The story features higher education collaborations in the two communities.

More than 3,300 entries were submitted in a variety of categories. Fewer than 30% earned the Award of Excellence.

BizVoice has received more than 50 national and state honors for editorial and design excellence over the past 12 years.

Purdue Helps Students Get “World-class” Degrees Near Home

It’s almost graduation time for college students across Indiana. Some of the least heralded gems are those mined right in our local communities, thanks to the Purdue College of Technology Statewide, with 10 locations across Indiana. Students stay home, continue their careers and get a world-class degree they can put to work right in their hometown.

In South Bend, 46 Purdue students will earn their bachelor’s on May 14. Class responder Curtis Damon, a major in industrial technology, paired his classes with a job as associate project engineer for PEI-Genesis in South Bend. And he plans to stay there.

"The College of Technology trains local professionals and young adults on new advanced topics in engineering, quality and design," he explains. "I have personally witnessed many individuals who are not looking for a particular degree but are taking classes for advancement at work and/or for a direct improvement at the workplace they are currently at. The classes in lean manufacturing and production, Six Sigma and inventory management are very straightforward and make it easy to take what you learn and implement it directly into your workplace.

"The College of Technology also allows individuals to stay at home, advance their education and build careers. This is a great benefit to both students and the local businesses in the area. It allows the local community to hire people who are from the area, who are highly educated and motivated to work. You can’t beat hiring individuals who don’t need relocation packages, know the area where they live and the community around them, and have the knowledge and education to help companies succeed."

You can read more about Curtis here. Statewide Technology is an extension of the College of Technology. Its degree programs follow the same curriculum requirements as the programs on the West Lafayette campus. Classes are taught by Purdue faculty or those approved by academic department heads. More than 1,350 students are enrolled at its sites in Anderson, Columbus, Greensburg, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Vincennes. Of those, 53% attend full time.

Jeanne Norberg is a spokesperson for Purdue University.

Video Spotlights Higher Ed Success Story at Ivy Tech & IU East

A BizVoice® magazine story earlier this year included the following quote:

“We used to have an associate degree in nursing,” states Nasser Paydar, chancellor of Indiana University East (IU East) in Richmond. “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?”

IU East no longer has any associate degree programs. Its partnership with its neighboring Ivy Tech campus and other locations within its region goes much deeper. It is a formula that can – and should be – replicated in areas around the state.

But don’t take our word for it. Listen to students, faculty and administrators at the two Richmond campuses describe how young people are able to move through the higher education process more efficiently and be prepared to enter the state’s workforce. A video on the Achieve Indiana web site tells this important story – in their words. 

Signals, Transitions and Welcome Mats

The higher education section in the current BizVoice features the in-depth look at increased regional cooperating taking place in Columbus and Richmond, as well as the growth occuring in for-profit or proprietary institutions.

On a bit of the lighter side, we compiled three interesting items into what we call a briefs package. The subjects: Signals for student success at Purdue, an update on the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowships and an entrepreneurial effort in Anderson — Global Student Solutions — to make life easier for international collegians.

They’re quick, interesting, reads. Let us know about other initiatives we might profile in the future or share your story in this space via the comments section.

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.

Education a Key Focus in Columbus & Richmond

Indiana Chamber VP of Education & Workforce Development Derek Redelman discusses higher education developments in Richmond and Columbus. He explains that one key goal is to help students find an educational program that best suits them individually, and how new initiatives are impacting the state’s larger institutions. For a more detailed look at the issue, read the story in our latest edition of BizVoice magazine.