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Amy McCormack, new president of Calumet College of St. Joseph.

John Luke

Since my arrival in July, “Community as Campus” is a phrase that many have heard me say. Calumet College of St. Joseph is a small campus within a great community. Both Whiting and Hammond border the campus, but they are integral to the campus in so many ways. I like to think of the local community as an extension of the campus, and the college community as contributors to a vibrant local community.

Having spent time at Indiana University Bloomington and UPenn in Philadelphia, I love the vibrancy that a college can bring to a local community, and the vitality that a local community can bring to a college. Whiting and Hammond are more than just a place where the college is located; they are both critical partners that help keep higher education in their communities accessible and affordable.

Calumet College of St. Joseph has the lowest tuition of any four-year private university in Indiana. With available scholarships, the tuition at Calumet College can be competitive with public universities, and partnerships with our local community are instrumental in maintaining an affordable and accessible education in the area.

My vision is to continue to find ways that Calumet College and the cities can partner for mutually beneficial outcomes. I think the college is in a perfect location, which I share with current and prospective students all the time. We have one of the most beautiful golf courses in our backyard — Lost Marsh Golf Course.

The students can walk to Wolf Lake to kayak or row and enjoy the performances at the Pavilion at Wolf Lake. The biking and walking trails along the campus can take you through the natural and restored landscapes in Robertsdale and Hammond to the beaches of Lake Michigan in Whiting. The walkability factor is ideal for students, which is important since many of the students live in the local area.

The college also has a great history and shares many historical aspects with Whiting; I am always looking for ways to make connections so students will know the importance of place. Calumet College is located in a building that once served as the research and development facility for Standard Oil Co., now BP, and overlooks the incredible oil and steel industries that put Northwest Indiana on the map. I think the history is important, and history is another great connector between community and campus.

One example is the relationship between the college and the Whiting YMCA. The Whiting YMCA is in a beautiful architecturally and historically significant building that was once the Whiting Memorial Community Center. It was built for the residents of Whiting by the Rockefeller family and Standard Oil Co. to provide a recreation, entertainment and social venue. Standard Oil held shareholder meetings in the large auditorium for decades.

Today, it is a vibrant resource for families and residents of Whiting, but it is also a place where students can exercise and work. Many of our students provide seasonal employment for summer camps, and Calumet College provides extra facilities for the YMCA when needed. We work together to help meet each other’s needs rather than duplicate facilities. This is an example that extends well into other community partnerships. The Oilmen Stadium, Whiting Sports Complex and East Chicago Central High School are other examples of collaboration rather than duplication. Sharing sports facilities provides opportunities for youth to see college students in the area. It is also an opportunity for college students to embrace their community and see themselves as positive contributors to the community.

The businesses and restaurants along Indianapolis Boulevard and 119th Street provide the college town atmosphere, but a short walk to Lake Michigan provides views of the Chicago skyline to the north, industrial and economic engines of the area along the shoreline, and the natural beauty of Northwest Indiana and the Indiana Dunes off in the distance.

Whether it is the local community or the broader Calumet and NWI region, I think our community, as an extension of our campus, is an asset I wouldn’t trade. At this time of giving thanks, I want to take this opportunity to thank those partners who make our community a better place to work, live and go to college.

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Amy M. McCormack is president of Calumet College of St. Joseph. The opinions are the writer's.

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