Building a Better ‘Blue’

Indiana State has clearly become a destination for students from Indiana and beyond who seek a quality education and unique experiences. The university’s success is felt on campus and beyond.

When Indiana State unveiled an ambitious strategic plan five years ago, it launched an era of progress that is transforming the university, its students and the Terre Haute community.

The list is impressive: the highest enrollment since 1972, a No. 1 ranking in the nation for community engagement two years in a row, the restoration of historic buildings, the upgrade of student housing and several revitalization projects focused on downtown.

Student helpers assist new Sycamores move into their residence halls (Indiana State Photography Services)

Student helpers assist new Sycamores move into their residence halls (Indiana State Photography Services)

The momentum is obvious from every corner of campus. The clamor of heavy equipment signals new construction projects and major renovations. Recently refurbished buildings are buzzing with activity. The difference is perhaps most obvious on the south side of campus, where Indiana State meets downtown Terre Haute.

Indiana State has served as a catalyst for business district revitalization, said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, noting that Cherry Street historically was like a wall that separated campus from downtown. The opening of the Barnes & Noble/Indiana State University Foundation building on the south side of Cherry Street between Fourth and Fifth streets in spring 2011 changed that fact.

“The door opened,” Bennett said. “There is no longer that divide.”

The blurring of the campus/city lines continued with the renovation of the former Federal Building at Seventh and Cherry streets into a state-of-the-art home for the Scott College of Business. Now known as Federal Hall, it opened in fall 2012, bringing more than 1,150 students, faculty and staff to the downtown area.

“Town-and-gown relations have always been an area of focus” for the university, said David Nichols, a professor of Early American History who has done research on Terre Haute’s storied past. Inclusive programs are part of the effort by Indiana State to reach out. For example, under the auspices of The Community Semester each spring, academic departments or units within the College of Arts and Sciences host some 40 events, ranging from panel discussions on fracking to theatrical performances.

Outreach is a way for the university to showcase what it does best and to encourage faculty and students to share with the community what they are learning. It is also a way to bring innovative ideas in science, the humanities, liberal and creative arts to the area — and boost the city’s quality of life.

“Terre Haute has become a much more livable city for its residents in the past 10 years. The downtown area is much more vibrant, and the cultural life of the city has become richer,” Nichols said.

The university’s reach is also extending west with the construction of the $4.3 million Gibson Track and Field complex on the Wabash Riverfront. Located at 400 N. First St., it will be Indiana State’s first new intercollegiate athletic venue since 1989 and the first project of Terre Haute’s Riverscape development area. Bennett said he expects the project will be a catalyst for transforming the banks of the Wabash.

The next step in downtown revitalization is a student housing and retail complex on Wabash Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets, set to open by fall 2015, said Indiana State President Dan Bradley.

Students play Rock, Paper, Scissors n the quad as part of Welcome Week activities. (Indiana State Photography Services)

Students play Rock, Paper, Scissors n the quad as part of Welcome Week activities. (Indiana State Photography Services)

“Our thinking is if you get people living and working in downtown, it will have an impact on the kinds of businesses and services that are there,” he said, noting that part of Indiana State’s strategic plan is to play a key part in the revival the city has undergone in the past decade. It’s an association Bennett values.

“Indiana State is a huge economic engine for the city. It plays such an important role,” he said, adding that faculty, staff and students also add value as volunteers with many local organizations.

Indiana State’s partnership with Terre Haute has deep roots in community service, a cornerstone of the Center for Community Engagement. The center connects the university with the Wabash Valley, yielding impressive results. Every academic program has a community engagement component, and in both 2012-13 and 2013-14,

Indiana State students contributed more than one million hours of service. Indiana State was ranked first among 281 national universities in the 2013 and 2014 Washington Monthly College Guide in the category of community service participation and hours worked. In the level of university support for service learning, Indiana State ranked second in the nation in 2013.

“Community engagement is a major thrust of our strategic plan. It gives our students the opportunity to put their skills to work for the betterment of the community. They can practice what they learn in the classroom in local settings,” Bradley said. “It also helps improve the community, and it keeps the faculty engaged in the community.”

Jim Edwards, ’94, is the director of Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall, at 14th and Locust streets. Since the center opened in 1982, he has welcomed hundreds of volunteers from Indiana State.

“The Indiana State relationship is so important. From the very beginning, I knew what type of opportunities and assistance the university could provide us,” Edwards said, noting he has interns and volunteers from many disciplines, including psychology, technology, criminology and nursing, among others. Indiana State faculty and staff also donate time. Their efforts, Edwards said, have tangible results and have helped the youth center triple in size and expand its reach over the years.

“Indiana State provides students so many opportunities to serve,” said Sarah Fedder, a marketing major and recreation management and youth leadership minor from South Bend who will graduate next spring. During her time on campus, she’s volunteered at Happiness Bag, participated in the annual Polar Plunge, filled backpacks with school supplies for local children, written letters to soldiers overseas, and the list goes on. She also is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, the Panhellenic Association and the Student Government Association.

“One thing I love about Indiana State is it gives a typical student the chance to get involved,” said Fedder. She said she appreciates the physical upgrades on campus. This fall she’s living in Reeve Hall, the first new residence hall to open in more than 40 years.

Indiana State's first lady Cheri Bradley talks to students at her lemonade stand. (Indiana State Photography Services)

Indiana State’s first lady Cheri Bradley talks to students at her lemonade stand. (Indiana State Photography Services)

Indiana State has clearly become a destination for students from Indiana and beyond who seek a quality education and unique experiences. Since the implementation of the strategic plan in 2009, enrollment has increased about 20 percent.

The original plan called for enrolling 12,000 full-time students by fall 2014. That goal was surpassed two years early with 12,114 students on the roster in 2012. This fall, enrollment reached 13,183, the highest level in more than 40 years.

“This fall will be the fifth consecutive year of the largest five (new freshman) classes since records have been kept at the university,” noted John Beacon, vice president of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications.

A focus on customer service, improved retention, the addition of several graduate-level programs in health care and more aggressive recruiting in the Chicago area all contributed to the increase.

“It comes down to treating people the way you want to be treated,” Beacon said.

That philosophy extends from how the university communicates with prospective students and their parents to the capital investments it has made to provide better service. Two examples are the John W. Moore Welcome Center that opened in 2012 and the current renovation of Normal Hall, the campus’ oldest academic building, into a Center for Student Success. That center will house an array of programs, such as tutoring and student support services and University College, which offers first-year students high-quality advising and instruction.

“I think what students are really looking for is a connection,” Bradley said. “Their ability to engage in things is important. It shows them the impact they can make.”

And the progress Indiana State has made over the past decade in community service, improved amenities and overall experience is giving them that opportunity.



Recent capital projects include the historic renovations of well-loved buildings that are key to Indiana State’s legacy:

University Hall — The rich history of the Laboratory School, built in 1936, is alive and well, thanks to a $29.8 million restoration. Completed in 2009, it houses the Bayh College of Education, and the building features high-tech classrooms, a 475-seat auditorium, an enclosed atrium and a comprehensive clinic. Historical features include artifacts from the Lab School.

John W. Moore Welcome Center — Located in the former Family and Consumer Sciences Building at the heart of Indiana State’s campus, the center serves as the “front door” of the university. Opened in 2012, the building’s main 22,000-square-foot area is designed as a living room and features 11 interactive transparent touch screens students and visitors can use to learn about the university’s history, academic programs and services. The center also houses several student service programs.

Federal Hall — The $20-million renovation of the former federal building, constructed in 1935, shifted the layout of campus. Home to the Scott College of Business, it is the first academic building south of Cherry Street.

Many of the original traditional art deco elements were preserved and combined with state-of-the-art touches, including a technology corridor and a trading room.

Normal Hall — The campus’ oldest academic building, built in 1910, will serve as the Center for Student Success. The $16 million project, which began in the spring, includes the restoration of a grand staircase and stain-glassed dome in the atrium of the neo-classical building, as well as new classrooms, mentoring and tutoring areas. It is scheduled for completion in summer 2015.

A place to call home

Of all the exciting capital developments going on at Indiana State, the big ticket project is a strategic revitalization of campus housing, said President Dan Bradley. New construction and renovations are providing students with comfortable accommodations, equipped to handle their technological needs, at a variety of price levels.

“By the end of this year, about three-fourths of our housing will have been redone,” Bradley said. In about five years, the job should be complete. Indiana State grew a lot in the 1960s, and most of the housing on campus was built during that time period, he noted.

Among the projects:

Reeve Hall — The first new residence hall on campus in more than 40 years was completed in time for students to move in this fall. Located south of Lincoln Quad and just north of Hulman Memorial Student Union, the $25-million complex features eight small-group housing units, each with its own entrance and living space, for 360 students. The space is ideal for sororities and other small groups, such as student organizations and living learning communities.

Mills Hall — The first of the four Sycamore Towers is being refurbished this year. Work on Blumberg, Cromwell and Rhoads is expected to follow. The upgrades will include air conditioning and additional bathrooms.

500 Wabash Ave. building — Set to open in July 2015, this 126,500-square-foot space will house of mix of shops, restaurants and offices on the first floor. The top four floors will provide apartments for upper classmen. Thompson Thrift Development is building the estimated $18.7 million complex.



As enrollment has increased, so has the quality of students.

The initial goal for university enrollment, set for fall 2014. It was surpassed in fall 2012 with 12,114 students. The current goal is 14,000 students by 2017.

Enrollment for 2014-2015 — the biggest number in more than 40 years.

The largest enrollment of fall-semester graduate students.

91 of 92 counties
Indiana State is truly a state university, with students from every county except one.

51.2 percent
Of Freshman class who have 3.0 GPA or higher in high school.

Free laptops awarded to incoming freshmen as part of a scholarship initiative. In 2006, the university awarded 677 laptops.

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