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Ivy Tech just keeps growing

First day of classes finds records for enrollment, number of full-time students broken again

By Nicole Brooks 331-4232
August 25, 2008

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Joshua Allgood, an Ivy Tech student from Greene County, searches through displays of posters this morning. The Bloomington campus is expecting a record number of students this semester. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

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Rachael Sigler, a new student from Spencer, searches a list of classes for her algebra course in the atrium at Ivy Tech this morning. The Bloomington campus is expecting a record number of students this semester. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

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Ian Arthur serenades students beginning the new semester at Ivy Tech Community College this morning. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

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John Whikehart, chancellor of Bloomington's Ivy Tech Community College, holds the door for students on opening morning as Ian Arthur plays his bagpipe. The first-day tradition began when the new building opened 6 years ago. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

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Jim Smith, vice-chancellor of academic affairs at Ivy Tech Community College at Bloomington, greets students in the lobby on opening day of classes today. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington enrollment this fall has broken not one record, but two.

“We not only have more students, but more of them are taking class full time,” Chancellor John Whikehart said of the 5,621 students enrolled as of Saturday, with a record high 3,513, or 62 percent, of them full time. This is higher than the average number of full-time students at other Ivy Tech campuses across the state, Whikehart said, which hovers around 40 percent.

“Our student body tends to be younger than around the state,” he added. Whikehart cites Ivy Tech’s strong relationship with Indiana University and the community college’s health and life sciences programs for the high enrollment and younger student body. Ivy Tech has in recent years added a biotechnology program and the state’s only radiation therapy program, Whikehart said.

Saturday’s numbers represent a nearly 13 percent increase in enrollment over last year. Ivy Tech’s continuous growth the past five years is a good problem to have, administrators have said. The growth has forced them to lease extra space at 1907 S. Liberty Drive, a little over two miles from the main campus at Ind. 48 and Daniels Way. The building was formerly occupied by an insurance company and Bloom Marketing Group.

The Liberty Drive campus now has 22 lecture-style classrooms, compared with 30 at the main campus. Some of the Liberty Drive classrooms were full but quiet Monday afternoon, as students sat at attention on their first day of school. Others mingled in the lounge and outside the building, eating a free welcome-week barbecue lunch.

The Liberty Drive campus, leased for two years, presents a few problems, but is a necessary short-term fix, Whikehart said.

“It will be a challenge,” he said, gesturing to the full parking lot overlooking Ind. 37. “Maybe students aren’t in their regular commute pattern yet.” Rural Transit shuttles will transport students from the main campus to Liberty Drive eight times a day. It was imperative the college not schedule classes so that students have only 10 minutes to rush back and forth between campuses, Whikehart added. Of the 850 course sections offered at Ivy Tech this fall, 160 are held at Liberty Drive. Some programs, including marketing, early education and the culinary school, are now headquartered at the second campus, so students enrolled in those programs should not have to shuttle back and forth between sites.

Staff from enrollment services and student affairs will also be at the Liberty Drive campus on a permanent basis. This is to address the problem of “how do we keep students that are here engaged in student life?” Whikehart said. One key to retention, he said, is keeping students involved with campus life, which is difficult to do if students are rarely on the main campus, with its common areas, bookstore and library.

The college will be slightly more spread out in October, when Ivy Tech hopes to open the new Indiana Center for the Life Sciences at the corner of Zenith Drive and Profile Parkway, next to Ivy Tech’s main campus. The facility, which is being developed to train students and those already employed in the life sciences, is a joint effort of the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission, Monroe County commissioners, South Central Region 8 Workforce Board Inc., WorkOne and Ivy Tech.