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Ivy Tech Community College Gary Campus

The Gary Campus of Ivy Tech Community College is pictured.

In recent days, some news outlets have reported that Ivy Tech Community College is “closing its Gary campus,” giving the impression that we are fleeing the city and leaving behind more abandoned buildings to be demolished.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While Ivy Tech does eventually plan to finish relocating courses and programs currently housed at its two decades-old buildings on 35th Avenue, situated between Broadway and Martin Luther King Drive, those classes will continue to be housed in Gary.

This is a continuing initiative that was long in the planning and has been well-documented by the media. In 2009, the State Budget Agency decided that, rather than funding Ivy Tech to upgrade the old campus, those funds would be combined with the new Indiana University Northwest Arts & Sciences Building located at 34th and Broadway as a shared facility, and which opened with great fanfare last summer.

This is a state-of-the-art building that gives Ivy Tech students the opportunity to take classes in modern labs with the latest equipment, and to learn in an updated, welcoming, collaborative environment. Many of those classes began at the Arts & Sciences Building in the fall 2017 semester. Ivy Tech students now can earn associate degrees in biology and chemistry, something that was not possible before. Further, IUN has been most gracious to our students, faculty and program needs, even inviting our students to join IU clubs and gatherings. And we expect additional synergies to emerge through the co-location.

Ivy Tech also is in discussions with Gary Community School Corp. to house some programs at the Gary Area Career Center, which, like the Arts & Science Building, is located just blocks from the current location.

These changes mean programs will not be eliminated, but will have the potential to be expanded and improved.

Under our recent statewide restructuring, our Lake County campus consists of locations in Gary, East Chicago and Crown Point. Ivy Tech remains dedicated to the Gary community, just as we remain dedicated to all of our Lake County students, employers and communities.

Our statewide strategy is to reduce about 1 million square feet of excess space to ensure we are investing in students, faculty and programs, not maintaining outdated and underutilized buildings. While enrollment has stabilized in Gary and we think it will grow, one-third of all students take some of their classes online. This is consistent with projects across the state, where Ivy Tech is upgrading to first-class campuses, but with smaller footprints.

We understand the concern of those who fear these moves will result in more urban blight in a city that has struggled for so long. Rest assured that Ivy Tech is taking steps to ensure this property is put to good use for the Gary community.

We anticipate these changes will bring growth, not reduction, to our student population and that they will help both Ivy Tech and the Gary community thrive. We believe this is the best way to carry out our twofold mission — to provide employers with skilled workers ready to fill high-paying jobs, and to give our students a world-class learning environment resulting in degrees and credentials that provide them with in-demand careers and prosperity.

Ivy Tech looks forward to continuing its terrific partnership with the city of Gary, the Gary schools and all of Lake County. You are our communities, and we will continue to be your college.

Sue Ellspermann is president of Ivy Tech Community College. Louie Gonzalez is chancellor for Ivy Tech Lake County. The opinions are the writers'.

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Senior Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.