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December 30, 2013

2013 A YEAR IN REVIEW: ISU blazes path in community service, pursues new housing

TERRE HAUTE — In 2013, Indiana State University gained national prominence for community service.

In August, the Washington Monthly College Guide ranked ISU No. 1 in the country for community service, putting it at the top of the list of 281 national universities.

In 2012-13, students, faculty and staff at ISU provided an estimated 1.2 million hours of community service — with a total value of $8 million — and the university served 115 community partners, according to the annual report of the university’s Center for Community Engagement.

Higher education in the Wabash Valley made news in several other ways:

• ISU housing — On Dec. 20, the State Budget Committee approved a multi-million dollar project to provide downtown housing for ISU students, part of a public/private partnership.

The committee endorsed a 30-year lease agreement between ISU and private developer Thompson Thrift, which will build an $18.7 million, five-story retail/residential building in the 500 block of Wabash Avenue.

The committee had tabled the lease agreement at its July meeting, with committee members saying the lease agreement needed changes that were more favorable to ISU.

The project will consist of retail space on the first floor and student housing on the upper four floors. It will house 228 students in four-bedroom units with common living and dining areas.

Construction is expected to start in the spring with the building ready for occupancy by fall 2015. Those involved believe it will be a catalyst for downtown development.

In an unrelated development, ISU officials revealed that a planned demolition of the 15-story Statesman Towers over winter break was on hold. Core Redevelopment of Indianapolis is exploring a possible adaptive re-use of the now vacant towers.

• Woods athletic facility — On Dec. 3, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College broke ground for a new sports and recreation center, the culmination of a decade-long vision. The $11 million facility will be named after the late Jeanne Knoerle, Sister of Providence and former SMWC president.

The 45,000-square-foot facility is forecast to be completed in 10 months, enabling the women’s basketball team to play on a home court for the first time.

The building, to be located at the west edge of campus behind the library, will include an NCAA regulation-sized gym seating about 1,000 spectators, a practice gym for auxiliary revenue and intramural sports, a 2,000-square-foot lobby, locker rooms, a training room and  fitness room.

• New Rose-Hulman president — On May 1, James C. Conwell began his tenure as the 15th president of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

An engineering executive and former engineering educator, he most recently had served as vice president of Jacobs Engineering Group (NYSE: JAC), a Fortune 500 company. He also had previously taught undergraduate engineering.

The Rose-Hulman board cited his academic background and his industrial and international experience as making him the right person to lead the college into the future.

• Ivy Tech-Terre Haute Humane Society Partnership — The Terre Haute Humane Society and Ivy Tech Community College-Wabash Valley began a $2.5 million capital campaign to move the animal shelter to an Ivy Tech building in southern Vigo County.

The shelter is “in desperate need” of a new building, Debbie Floyd, humane society board president, said earlier this year.  

The goal is to move the shelter to the Ivy Tech TechLAB facility (former Doughmakers), which would require renovation, and to equip space for veterinary technician and related Ivy Tech programming. The building is in the Vigo County Industrial Park.

THHS would lease space from Ivy Tech yet maintain its independence.

Most of the funds would go for renovation, but Ivy Tech needs about $250,000 worth of equipment to offer programming that includes veterinary technician, veterinary assisting and kennel management.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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