Celebration recognized a half-century’s promise to Northwest Indiana
Indiana University Northwest’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) celebrated its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in the John W. Anderson Library Conference Center.
The celebration was free and open to the public, and included a lecture on the History of SPEA and an alumni panel presentation, followed by a round table featuring community leaders discussing current issues in Northwest Indiana.
History of SPEA at IU Northwest
The School of Public and Environmental Affairs was established in January 1972 by the Trustees of Indiana University as a system-wide school and statewide program of Indiana University. SPEA was designed by a group of scholars from various Indiana University campuses who understood the need for training competent public servants who would in turn serve the community by representing the needs of concerned citizens.
At IU Northwest, SPEA opened the door to its first cohort of students in August 1972. Since then, SPEA has conferred thousands of degrees among undergraduate and graduate students, contributing to the socio-economic development of the Northwest Indiana region and adjacent communities.
IU Northwest Professors Mark Reshkin, Leslie Singer, Lloyd Rowe, and Harold Gortner were among IU SPEA’s founders. University records reveal that the conversation about the need to establish SPEA originally began on the IU Northwest campus.
Reshkin organized a series of conferences that took place in Gary, Ind. to discuss the most compelling needs of the region. Creating new generations of leaders, expanding the use of technology, and supporting the work of the criminal justice system were among the main objectives of the school.
Importantly, the school aimed to educate students and train leaders on the relevance of protecting the environment. The preservation of the Indiana Dunes National Park (which received redesignation as the 61st U.S. national park in 2019) was paramount at that time, and it remains an important endeavor today.
From its inception, SPEA has been committed to supporting underserved communities and communities of color, known as a leader in the education of public servants in Northwest Indiana.