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IU Northwest colleagues focus on creating a ‘culture of service’ as they embark on a new academic year

In annual address, Chancellor Lowe discusses state of campus; urges a more service-oriented philosophy in our daily work

Wednesday Aug 27, 2014

As faculty and staff members of Indiana University Northwest anticipated the start of the Fall 2014 semester, Chancellor William J. Lowe presented his annual state-of-campus address.

Among Lowe’s discussion points were a picture of the campus’s financial pressures and steps for a fresh approach to enrollment, as well as a summary of faculty accomplishments, the future development of an Arts and Sciences building and Tamarack Green. The primary message of the day, though, was an emphasis on the importance of cultivating a “culture of service” in our everyday work.

Setting the tone for Chancellor’s remarks, Student Government President April Van Milligan expressed, from a student point-of-view, the benefits of such a philosophy. She talked about the importance of academic advising, for example, because of the important role advisors have in “inspiring our students to create a career they love.”

Our campus snapshot

Dr. Lowe talked about the challenges of serving a student population that is “as diverse as the region we serve.”

He said that recent media accounts of various proposals to improve American higher education show that there is “more than a little ambivalence at the national policy level about a Mission like ours.”

IU Northwest’s student profile illustrates the need for measures to help students complete their degrees, particularly since “the future demography of American college students will look very much like IU Northwest.”

A snapshot of IU Northwest’s students:

* Two-thirds of our students are women;
* More than 40 percent are students of color;
* Just more than half attend full-time, usually at minimum of 12 semester hours;
* 85 percent work full- or part-time; and
* Students have high level of financial need.

“None of the ‘big’ national goals for degree attainment means anything at all if our students do not enroll in college and complete their degree,” Dr. Lowe said. “I sometimes worry that the attention that we, our Mission and the diverse students we serve seem to be attracting could turn into inadvertent abandonment of a commitment to the democratic principle that all qualified students should have the opportunity to achieve a publicly supported bachelor’s degree.”

A stellar faculty

Lowe expressed pride in the “faculty of teacher-scholars who continue to turn in impressive scholarly and professional performance.” Last year, IU Northwest faculty members “contributed 124 articles, 28 books, 18 book chapters and 39 other scholarly and creative works. They made 526 conference appearances and published, presented or completed 55 digital media, exhibits, theatre and other creative works. Our faculty received 109 awards and honors for teaching, research, service and other professional contributions and reported more than 1,800 service/engagement commitments.

“In 2014,” he said, “we had 17 summer faculty fellows and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs sponsored seven faculty members for five diversity fellowships, as well as three faculty-guided student research projects.”

Community-based engagement

Dr. Lowe announced that the campus continues to make progress toward enhancing its community-based engagement. With the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence as the “front door” to the Northwest Indiana region, IU Northwest continues to increase its service to the community thanks in large part to students. In 2013, our students completed 126,000 service hours.

Beautification, expansion

Dr. Lowe expressed pride in the progress that has been made on the plans for the new Arts and Sciences building which will soon be constructed near 35th Avenue and Broadway.

In other physical plans for the campus, Dr. Lowe said the design for what is now being called “Tamarack Green” reflects the preferences of the campus community, including students. Plans for the impending beautification of the area formerly occupied by Tamarack, were adapted from the original design of two students. 

Service philosophy

Lowe said that despite the challenges that IU Northwest faces in terms of our financial pressures and the unique needs of our student body, he is encouraged by the resources available to help the campus secure successful futures for our students and campus.

The piece that IU Northwest can further develop is “the cumulative power of our individual commitment.”

“A collaborative, intentional service philosophy must be a continuous improvement commitment for the long-term and starts with individual, personal satisfaction, maybe even joy, that comes from contributing good work to an important end,” he explained. “It takes colleagues who know, sincerely, why they are here at IU Northwest and love what they know.

“Our service philosophy initiative will help us, whatever our roles,” he said, “to remove obstacles from the paths of those with and for whom we work and stay firmly connected to Indiana University’s academic mission.”

Beth Tyler, interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, facilitated an engaging discussion that prompted faculty and staff to think about how students are our “clients” and brainstorm ways that every department can foster an environment of support.

“A good supportive environment means starting at ‘yes,’ ” she said. In other words, even when the answer may be “no,” it is important that we indicate in our daily work that we want to help and take steps to ensure all of the “clients” we encounter daily are valued.

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