GARY | Through its Center for Urban and Regional Excellence, Indiana University Northwest builds partnerships with all sectors of the community surrounding the urban campus.
The commitment that IUN Chancellor William Lowe called “a strategic priority” was showcased Tuesday during the CURE open house for students, faculty, staff and community organizations at the John W. Anderson Library Conference Center.
CURE works to build those partnerships to “jointly formulate programs and policies to support thriving Northwest Indiana communities” said Ellen Szarleta, center director.
Those diverse areas where the partnerships are addressing challenges and co-creating solutions include economic development, government efficiency, nonprofit leadership development, public safety, transportation policy, environmental sustainability, health disparities and the arts and culture, she said.
The Body Art project at the open house captured the spirit of engagement that resonates throughout the center’s work.
Students from IUN’s fine arts program volunteered to paint words or phrases on the arms and hands of participants and guests. Jackie Huey, of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, chose “teach” and “peace” as her message, while Latrice Young, a senior at Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy in Gary, selected to have “stand strong” painted on her arms.
Student Body President Larissa Dragu then photographed the body art participants.
Presentations on four of the partnerships also highlighted the collaborative efforts and the achievements that have resulted.
“Value Art, Live Substance Free” partners the IUN school of nursing and division of social work with South Shore Arts, the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology and artist Deborah Landry. This team worked with sixth-graders at HAST to create art-based life skills training programs.
Among the outcomes for students were a discovery of life-coping skills, developing strength to discover their individual voices, team building, developing an understanding that art can be used as a tool to teach lessons from multiple disciplines and that creativity “is vital in finding solutions to critical social issues,” said Crystal Shannon, of the IUN school of nursing.
“Crime Data Analysis and Mapping” is a partnership between Joseph Ferrandino, lead researcher with IUN’s SPEA program, the police departments of Gary, East Chicago and Griffith and various law enforcement and fire departments in Lake and Porter counties.
The project gathers, analyzes and maps data on crime to enhance and improve public safety operations.
Griffith Police Chief Gregory Mance told the audience that when the town’s police department joined this project eight months ago, officials received historic data on crime in Griffith from 2008 to 2012.
By using this data to increase policing in specific areas of town, Griffith’s crime rate has dropped 32 percent since June, Mance said.
The “Leadership IU Project” is an action-learning based program that focuses on the leadership skills of IU faculty and staff to create “a dynamic partnership with the City of Gary,” said Subir Bandyopadhyay, professor of marketing at IUN.
Short-term outcomes include the creation of the Gary Urban Institute, a university-city economic development partnership model, and the development of a framework for evaluating development opportunities for their economic, social and environmental impacts.
Long-term outcomes of this project have been an exchange program for IU students to work as interns in city departments and the launch of a program to support student-run businesses in Gary.