GARY | As Ivy Tech Community College streamlines its operation, it also is retooling to strengthen the community college's offerings.
Chancellor Thomas Coley oversees the merged Northwest and North Central regions, which include campuses in Gary, East Chicago, Michigan City and Valparaiso, along with South Bend, Elkhart County and Warsaw.
The college also offers classes in leased space at Portage to about 150 students, one of several sites under review that could be closed.
Coley said college leaders have initiated a search to find a vice chancellor/dean to run the day-to-day operations at the Gary, South Bend and Elkhart County campuses. The salary for those positions is negotiable.
Coley said he will continue to oversee the operations at the seven campuses and will travel among them as he also works with leaders in the different communities. He did not say how soon those positions would be filled. There are vice chancellors already in place at the other campuses in the Northwest/North Central region.
Coley said among the goals of the college is to increase the number of high school students in its dual-credit program and focus on retaining students and encouraging them to complete degree programs.
"We don't look at the dual-credit program as a moneymaker," Coley said. "The dual-credit program is a tremendous cost savings for students, and it's an investment in the community."
Coley said there are several ways dual credit is offered and the college implements many of them. He said one approach is to offer the classes to students at the high school where the high school is willing to add those courses. Coley said the faculty teaching the class must have the credentials. There is no tuition cost to students.
Another approach is to provide an Ivy Tech instructor to the school for a cost of $3,000 per semester. He said students also can come to the campus or take courses online, which they would pay for.
Coley said the first approach is popular and the state provides colleges and universities some funding that helps supplement that operation.
"We hope that those students come to Ivy Tech when they graduate high school, then transfer to a four-year program. It's the best way to serve Indiana students," Coley said.
College officials announced a few months ago the college was facing a $68 million budget deficit and would make some cuts. However, Coley said it's not so much a deficit as a "gap" in funding. He said the college has grown tremendously, but state support has not kept up with that growth.
"We are not allowed to have a deficit," Coley said. "We have to have a balanced budget. We've had tremendous growth. We accepted everyone who walked in the door, but there were no substantial increases in funding to support that growth. There is a gap between what we received and what we should have received based on the growth."
Still, Coley said the college has made a number of cost-saving moves, including outsourcing the book store and negotiating supplies, furniture and other orders for the college as a whole, rather than individual regions. The college also eliminated some positions in the Northwest/North Central region.
"The head count is stable at the college but the number of college credits has gone down," he said. "We will be paying close attention to the retention (of students) and completion of degrees, even as people have slowed down on the number of classes because they are working."