STEM RESOURCE CENTER Ribbon Cutting, (l-r), Marcos Rodriguez, Chancellor, Ivy Tech Lake County; Savannah Bennett, IUN STEM Center Coordinator; Kris Huysken, IUN STEM Center Project Director; IUN Chancellor Ken Iwama; Chancellor Emeritus Ivy Tech Lake County, Louie Gonzalez; IUN Director of Sponsored Research, Sandra McMullen; IUN Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Vicki Román-Lagunas; and IUN Executive Director of Facilities and Operations, Kevin Elmore.
The partnership forged between Indiana University Northwest and the Lake County Campus of Ivy Tech Community College six years ago is decreasing the number of students with D-F grades and the number of students who withdraw. “The 9 percent reduction in those numbers means an increase in enrollment, and opportunities and success for our students,” said Marcos Rodriguez, Chancellor Ivy Tech Lake County.
The strength of that partnership was the focus at the November 29 ribbon cutting ceremony for the new STEM Resource Center at IU Northwest.
“STEM Centers like this are the future of Indiana University and part of our 2030 Strategic Plan,” said IU Northwest Chancellor Ken Iwama. Three goals are set for 2030, Iwama said, “Students success and opportunity, transformative research and creativity, and service to our state and beyond; the first drives all three.”
As partners, Ivy Tech and IU Northwest received a $5 million grant from the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Articulation Program at the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The goal of the grant is to increase the number of Northwest Indiana students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields, with a focus on Hispanic, and low-income students. The award will be distributed to IU Northwest at $1 million per year for the next five years.
IU Northwest was eligible to apply for the grant because of its designation as an HSI by the DOE. The campus is the only public comprehensive institution of higher education in Indiana with this designation. The most diverse of all IU campuses, IU Northwest’s student body is 26 percent Hispanic and 17 percent African American.
“This is a place for students to study and to gather, but also a place where students could access a host of STEM specific services that will lead them to success,” said Kris Huysken, STEM Center Project Director.
Students can access tutoring, stem specific internships, research opportunities, and other experiential learning opportunities both on and off campus.
“It’s also a place where students can connect with other campus wraparound services, such as transfer and academic advising, the Red Hawk pantry, and mental health services on our campus,” Huysken said.
“We have imagined the center as a place where students and faculty from both Ivy Tech and IUN can mingle. They can collaborate, learn, plan and the two can celebrate accomplishments together,” Huysken added.
Chancellor Rodriguez said the Hispanic and Latin population at Ivy Tech this fall was about 38 percent.
“We know that these HSI grants are intended to help the marginalized population. And so that’s one thing that our institutions take very seriously. Both of our institutions really focus on retention so that we can help our students reach their collegiate goals. And so by having these types of opportunities available, it’s going to make our partnership even stronger in order to support us,” Rodriguez said.
Since the $5 million HSI grant, Chancellor Iwama said the center has received another grant for $3 million.
Savannah Bennett, STEM Center Coordinator, oversees the programs in the center. “STEM areas here at IUN are biology, chemistry, biochemistry, environmental science, geology, math, actuarial science, computer information systems, psychology, and neuroscience.”
The STEM Resource Center is located on the second floor of the Anderson Library.
Ivy Tech shares space in IUN’s Arts & Sciences Building which opened in the fall of 2017.