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OCU-B, Ivy Tech become partners

Leaders gather to celebrate higher learning partnership

By Roger Moon
Bedford Times-Mail
October 22, 2010

BEDFORD — As a student at Oakland City University’s Bedford campus, Jack Clark suggested Thursday he is looking forward to the newly announced partnership between the university and Ivy Tech Community College. Ivy Tech will bring its students and classes into the OCU building in Bedford beginning next semester.

“I think anytime you’re on a campus, the more students that you have, the more perspectives that you get,” Clark said as education and community leaders gathered for a reception after the partnership was formally announced in front of the OCU building on I Street.

“I think the opportunity to ... bring more classes in because of Ivy Tech’s presence gives us more of a choice in selecting classes,” said Clark, a sophomore who is majoring in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

In making the announcement, Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis said, “This partnership marks the continued presence of higher education for our community and access for our citizens, and, in my opinion, that is economic development.”

Ivy Tech classes are shifting from their current location at the Community Learning Center on 16th Street.

Girgis said, “We have over 500 students that attend our learning center, so that just shows the importance of it.”

John Whikehart, chancellor for Ivy Tech in Bloomington, told a group of about 50 people how the partnership had been established. “It is my opinion that the role of government is to create an environment where economic development can occur, where quality education can occur,” Whikehart said. “And I can tell you that your mayor has created an environment here that facilitated that discussion. She invited us to come together to talk about this and it frankly got to the point where I realized — I didn’t want to admit it up front — that we couldn’t say no about staying in Bedford. She wouldn’t let us. The state appropriation for the learning center runs out Dec. 31. So the challenge for us has been how do we stay in this community and how do we continue to provide quality education to students in Lawrence County short of having that kind of financial support. So, thanks to the mayor bringing us together ...we’re able to stay in this partnership. We look forward to staying here and we look forward to continuing that relationship.”

Girgis said, “As education attainment increases, then we know that more industry and businesses will want to locate in our community because we have a ready workforce.”

“We cannot afford to lose any kind of education in Lawrence County or the city of Bedford,” said Lawrence County Economic Growth Council Executive Director Gene McCracken, “and with this we’re not losing anything, but we are expanding our environment.”

OCU President Ray Barber said, “Oakland City University actually has had a presence here in Bedford since 1977. So, we’re really celebrating 33 years of service here in this community. We have been very concerned about how we could extend that service to this community and remain very vital. ... We look forward to the next 33 years.”

Times-Mail Staff Writer Roger Moon welcomes comments at 277-7253 or at
Bedford — Dr. Ray Barber, president of Oakland City University, and John Whikehart, chancellor at Ivy Tech Bloomington, speak during the public announcement of the schools’ partnership. (Times-Mail / PETE SCHREINER)

Copyright: 2010