In 1951 the Calumet College of St. Joseph was established in the region with one purpose—to provide access to education. Originally built in East Chicago, Calumet College of St. Joseph moved to Whiting in 1973 to accommodate expansion and during the course of their history they have fulfilled, and continue to fulfill their mission of offering a quality education in the Catholic tradition. “Calumet College of St. Joseph has three different populations of students,” says Dr. Daniel Lowery, president. “We have 1,100 students and comprising that number of just over 500 traditional students who come from high school and attend full time; and the rest are in our graduate program and degree completion programs.”
Mission to Serve the Underserved Population
Calumet College of St. Joseph was built upon the mission to serve the underserved population and that mission is linked to college affordability. Carl Cuttone, Jr., director of admissions, says that they have a high percentage of students who need financial aid and the college has a variety of ways to meet that need. “About 90 percent of our traditional students receive some kind of financial aid. Given our mission, we don’t feel that ability to pay should be a barrier to education,” Cuttone says.
Organizing their programs in a way to prepare all students for success, Calumet College of St. Joseph has a diverse population of students. Lowery says, “Year in and year out we are ranked as the 1st or 2nd most-diverse four-year institution of higher learning. We are Indiana’s only designated Hispanic serving institution.” Cuttone says that this year’s freshman class is comprised of 33 percent Hispanic students. “We have a summer bridge program to aid students to prepare for classes at the college level. This is a free program and we offer it so students can get ready before they show up in the fall and the financial barrier is taken away. We also have a dual credit program so high school students can come into our classroom and see what a college life is like and get general education credit. We only charge $75 a class. We’ve organized ourselves to provide a unique level of assistance to students who aren’t fully ready for college and to those in the honor track as well. We try to serve a diverse population and the best way to serve an urban population is to give them a diverse institution,” says Cuttone.
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Curriculum Redesign for Career Readiness
Calumet College of St. Joseph offers a choice of more than 20 majors. Among these programs are accounting, business management, computer information systems, criminal justice, education, English and professional writing, general studies, humanities, human services, media and fine arts, organization management, paralegal and pre-law studies, psychology, public safety management, religious studies, science, and social sciences.
Lowery says that those programs are changing to prepare students for the workplace and after a lengthy and thorough process they are getting ready for roll out. “We are in the middle of a multi-year complete redesign of our program. We redesigned the general education program about five years ago and it tends to be very different than other institutions of higher learning. One way is through the number of credit hours offered. Many schools scale back the number of credit hours, or the courses aren’t sequenced or build on each other in any significant way, or they are taught by adjuncts or grad students. The redesign we’ve embarked on over the course of five years is that we have bulked up our number of credit hours in the general education program. We did this because we want our students to have a core experience in common with each other. Also, the courses are sequenced so they build on each other. We link the courses in their freshman year so the instructors are mutually supporting the students’ efforts, and we provide mentors for students to address their education and social needs. Finally our very best faculty, many times our most senior faculty, teach these courses. And that makes us very different from other universities,” says Lowery.
One of the more substantial changes in the programs at Calumet College of St. Joseph comes with the addition of experiential learning opportunities, essential for career readiness. “The big change that is now forthcoming is we are redesigning our majors with full integration of experiential learning into each of those majors. Our experiential learning is a whole tool box of opportunities that help students to be career ready so they have the knowledge and experience to move right into a job. These experiences help students to think critically and enhance their writing and speaking skills. We are in the process of establishing partnerships with the business community to help design and gain feedback for what they look for in employees. We will be rolling this out in about three years and we have a faculty that has embraced this change and are leading the change,” says Lowery.
Through the redesign, Calumet College of St. Joseph is also adding majors that will be in demand. They have constructed new science laboratories due to the demand in the sciences. These science labs opened last year although the program is one of Calumet College’s most popular. Lowery says, “There is a tremendous demand. There are a large number of African-American and Hispanic students who traditionally don’t have as much opportunity in the sciences and we feel we can fill that niche. We serve all students and we want our urban population, regardless of race and ethnicity, to be able to get into those science jobs that are so important for the market.” Calumet College of St. Joseph continues to grow. They carry on the tradition of serving a diverse student population, changing lives through education. Master’s degrees and accelerated programs remove time and space barriers for adult students and innovative education programs assist professionals who transition to teaching. An athletic program, established in 1999, swelled the College’s traditionally-aged academic population.
Calumet College of St. Joseph has recently written a strategic plan that guides their future growth. “We have engaged in a year-long strategic planning process with input from the board, faculty, alumni and we discovered that the mission upon which we were founded, to serve the underserved, was reaffirmed. All of our changes we make moving forward will fit into that mission. We are looking to construct housing through a lease-build arrangement and are in the process of trying to acquire land. We have engaged a firm to develop a concept plan for the redesign of the entire campus so the change to a more traditional population is already underway.”