Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

January 31, 2014

MICHAEL McROBBIE: IU regional campuses are critical to Indiana

They're vital to educating nearby residents

IU’s regional campuses have a long history of providing high-quality educational services and have evolved into valuable community resources across Indiana.

As classes begin for the spring semester at Indiana University campuses across the state, nearly 33,000 students — about one-third of our entire student population — can be found enrolled at IU regional campuses.

IU’s regional campuses and centers in New Albany, Gary, Richmond, Kokomo, South Bend and Columbus and our programs at Fort Wayne are increasingly a first choice for some of the best high school students in Indiana. Those locations have seen large gains in the number of students earning Indiana Academic Honors degrees and those being named 21st Century Scholars by the state.

Overwhelmingly, our regional campuses serve Hoosier students, most of whom live in close proximity to their chosen campus and, in many instances, are first-generation and non-traditional students. These include many bright young adults who have just graduated from high school but also include many older students returning to education — and they have strong and deep ties to Indiana.

They are exactly the population that is of critical importance if Indiana is to meet its ambitious goals of dramatically increasing the percentage of college-educated residents.

All too often, though, they would fall through the cracks of the higher educational system.

Just like their peers on our Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, students at our regional campuses covet the value and quality of an IU degree. They also are attracted to the intimate setting and convenience afforded by our regional campuses. And once they graduate, 80 percent of these new IU alums remain in their home regions, becoming engaged citizens, valued employees and community leaders.

Beyond serving as an integral part of IU’s broad mission to educate students from Indiana, our regional campuses are invaluable community resources and partners, in large part due to our long history of providing top-notch higher education services throughout the state.

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