By Sue Ellspermann, Ph.D., President, Ivy Tech Community College
This April, as our students, alumni, faculty, and staff observe National Community College Month, our hearts are with the many families whose lives are being forever changed by the current global health crisis. While this is not a time for celebration, we are honoring those affected by the coronavirus pandemic by continuing to work alongside our communities as we deliver on our core mission of accessible, high quality post-secondary education for Hoosiers and workforce development aligned to the needs of Indiana’s employers.
Ivy Tech Community College has always been focused on making our communities stronger – and that has never been more important than it is right now. Accordingly, we are dedicated to mitigate the damaging effects of COVID-19 and provide relief for those on the frontlines – healthcare providers, first responders, essential workers, and all those who are courageously battling to keep us safe. Here are just a few examples:
- Keeping students moving forward while mitigating the spread of the virus. Ivy Tech is committed to ensuring our students can continue their studies and complete credentials to enter high-demand careers. We quickly transitioned all courses and student services to being fully virtual after Spring Break. With the safety of our communities and students in mind, we’ve closed buildings, but we continue to offer enrollment, financial aid, advising, tutoring, and even “wrap around services” to our students virtually. Ivy Tech was already one of the nation’s largest providers of online learning with nearly half of our courses able to be delivered virtually even before COVID-19. We will continue in a virtual format during the Summer semester here for our students, as well as students who had their residential college experience disrupted and high school graduates who want to get a cost-effective jump on college before the Fall.
- Providing more support for our students. State Trustee Marianne Glick and her spouse, Mike Woods, have generously committed $500,000 in matching dollars to establish a COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist Ivy Tech students across the state with emergency financial needs. This will help students offset the financial challenges they are facing and allow them to remain enrolled. Technology, internet access, food and housing assistance are just a few of the additional challenges some of our students and those newly unemployed are facing right now.
- Doing our part to support and partner with healthcare providers. Our campuses have donated masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to their local hospitals. Our Advanced Automation and Robotics programs across the state are 3D-printing parts for face shields and masks for Indiana’s healthcare workers and first responders. We are ramping up to provide more than 2,000 per week to augment the limited supplies currently available. And several of our campuses are designated as alternative care sites for their communities utilizing our campus nursing wings if/when needed.
- Preparing for life after COVID-19. While there is much work to do in the present, Ivy Tech is also planning for how we can best serve going forward. What are the new skills Hoosiers will need for jobs during the coronavirus recovery? How might we quickly help the thousands of unemployed Hoosiers to reskill for high-wage, high-demand jobs? How might we assist employers in having the talent they need to ramp back up? What else do our communities and state need from us as we recover from this crisis? These are all questions being considered by our leadership, staff, and faculty to ensure we all emerge from this pandemic even stronger.
Our nation’s community colleges serve nearly half of all college students. As Indiana’s community college, Ivy Tech is here to help Hoosiers of all ages, backgrounds, races, and abilities to pursue their post-secondary education and career goals. Even now, amid the greatest challenge many of us will ever know, Ivy Tech and multiple institutions across the country remain confident that better days are ahead. And we pledge to work alongside our communities to ensure this becomes Indiana’s reality.
President Ellspermann is Ivy Tech Community College’s ninth president and oversees the largest singly accredited statewide community college in the nation. She has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, economic and workforce development, and public service.
About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College serves communities across Indiana, providing world-class education and driving economic transformation. It is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering high-value degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities, along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.