Ivy Tech Chancellor Thomas G. Coley’s vision for could not be any more certain or his mission more clear. Ivy Tech gives students the skills and training necessary to get a not only a job, but a career path. Every program at Ivy Tech, Dr. Coley explains, is directed towards achieving an affordable post-secondary educational credential, whether that leads to a degree from a four-year college or provides a second chance for students who have been out of school for a long time.
Ivy Tech’s involvement often starts at the high school level by offering students the opportunity to work for credit that provides a gateway to a future career in nursing and health sciences, one of Ivy Tech’s strong areas. For students who are challenged in math and have found that to be a barrier when looking for a job, Ivy Tech can provide the type of targeted education needed.
Enrollment at the school is fluid, as the Chancellor says, with growth coming through multiple entry and exits by students who are building lives and livelihoods in Northwest Indiana. A student may come into an eight-week session in electronics or mechanical welding, and then that student may opt into another session and eventually complete a technical certificate in 40 weeks.
“Whether you are looking to advance in the company you are working in or maintain employment, we are giving them the skill set the employers want them to have and the critical thinking skills. We teach our students how to be effective in today’s workplace,” he says, “You know what kind of training you will get and that it’s the kind of training that makes them most valuable to employers.”
Dr. Coley, who has been Chancellor of Ivy Tech’s North Region, encompassing campuses in the northwest and central parts of the state, since December 2012, cites Ivy Tech’s increasingly proactive approach in structuring programs for students that make sense for the whole community. Enrollment at Ivy Tech remains at record high levels across the state and Chancellor Coley is working at building partnerships with other schools as well as employers in Northwest Indiana.
“Internally we are working very hard to make sure that students complete the program. We also look at how we structure our programs instructionally, what courses need to be taken, always making sure that our programs have the quality of technology in the classroom that is immediately transferable to the workplace. All the pieces connect.”
Ivy Tech is “big on data and metrics,” the Chancellor explains. “We are going to be held accountable on being cost-effective for students by meeting their educational objectives. We have to demonstrate with metrics that Ivy Tech is valuable not only to students, but as a resource in your community in terms of financial well-being and career advancement."
Over the past 18 months, Chancellor Coley has been focused internally on merging the structure of two regions, while communicating externally about a broadened mission. Visibility and accountability is increasing, Dr. Coley says, because there has never been greater emphasis on the colleges’ participation. “We are seeking support, building relationships and partnerships. We are focused more on the students we are not reaching, the students at risk. It is just a much bigger picture and a bigger playing field. More outreach and connections with the community are the future. If your education ended with high school you don’t have a future.”