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IU Northwest honors former chancellor for commitment to the arts

Bergland’s legacy commemorated with sculpture, official dedication of auditorium

IU Northwest file photo
Chancellor Emeritus Bruce W. Bergland

Chancellor Emeritus Bruce W. Bergland, who served Indiana University Northwest from 1999-2010, returned to campus Thursday and mingled with former colleagues, friends and alumni over appetizers in the Savannah Center. While admiring the collection of sculptures and artistic landscaping just outside the tall windows, guests remarked appreciatively on the aesthetic transformation that Bergland oversaw at IU Northwest during his tenure.

That metamorphosis is represented most strikingly by the Shadows & Echoes Sculpture Garden, which serves as a daily reminder of Bergland’s firm commitment to the value of arts and culture at IU Northwest.

The campus honored Bergland’s legacy with the formal dedication of the Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium, named by the IU Board of Trustees last year, and with the commemoration of a cast bronze sculpture, entitled “Tapestry,” that was created by Professor of Fine Arts Neil Goodman to reflect Bergland’s character and achievements.

In his opening remarks, IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe spoke of the “transformative impact” that his predecessor had made on the campus during his 11 years at IU Northwest.

“Dr. Bergland envisioned IU Northwest as a campus dedicated to artistic enterprise and cultural discovery that combines academic and faculty resources with the broader mission to encourage and support artistic endeavor,” Lowe said. “Bruce Bergland’s name on our auditorium is a durable reminder to us all about the successful realization of the academic and artistic vision that he brought to IU Northwest.”

The sculpture, entitled “Tapestry,” will hang permanently opposite the auditorium’s entrance. Goodman’s piece is composed of a series of interlocking and linked components.

“As a symbol for Bruce’s career at IU Northwest, one thing that has always struck me about his administration is how he enjoyed reaching out to students, staff, faculty and the surrounding community,” Goodman said. “He created partnerships and collaborations that linked the university to the broader environment. He felt that the mission of an urban campus was to form a vital connection between its many constituents. Hence, a sculpture that is based on a series of interrelated and linked forms, a ‘tapestry’ of shapes, is both a metaphor and an object, hence the title of the sculpture.”

Goodman invited attendees to touch and interact with the sculpture. Its movable pieces serve as symbols representative of the lives of Bergland and his wife, Cynthia Owen-Bergland, whose regionally inspired landscaping complements Goodman’s Shadows & Echoes sculptures. A football helmet, a tree root and military shields are among the shapes that comprise the 13-foot by 9-foot artwork. 

A clearly humbled Bergland described his interest in the arts as being “not very sophisticated or knowledgeable.” In fact, he admitted that he had no real familiarity with the arts until he became involved with ballroom dancing and began to appreciate the colorful costumes, beautiful music and enriching experience of watching others dance. That, Bergland said, was what prompted him to beautify the IU Northwest campus through artistic projects such as the sculpture garden.

“Those initiatives were ways to begin to make this campus a place that was more pleasant, more aesthetically pleasing for our students and our faculty and our staff,” Bergland said. “Students would come and go so quickly in a day, we wanted it to be a place where people could feel like, ‘maybe I will stay there because it’s attractive. It feels good to be there.’ ”

IU President Michael A. McRobbie was unable to attend Thursday’s event, but he praised Bergland’s tenure and achievements in a letter read by Lowe.

“Through his inspiring engagement, he contributed to countless degree completions, research advancements and scholarship initiatives,” McRobbie stated. “The beautification of the Northwest campus, along with the notable achievements of its students and faculty in recent years, have made a positive and significant impact on the Northwest Indiana community, specifically the City of Gary, as well as the State of Indiana.”


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Additional Article Photos

IU Northwest file photo
Professor of Fine Arts Neil Goodman explains his creative vision for 'Tapestry' at the dedication.

IU Northwest file photo
'Tapestry' by Professor Neil Goodman, now hangs opposite the newly dedicated Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium in the Savannah Center.