Ellspermann rates local Ivy Tech campus ‘A-plus’
As president of the nation’s largest singly-accredited statewide community college system, Sue Ellspermann is aware that high letter grades can’t be thrown around lightly.
So when the Ivy Tech president more than once referred to the Greencastle Ivy Tech campus as “an A-plus” during a Thursday afternoon visit, local officials were pleased with the praise.
Although Ellspermann took over the top job at Ivy Tech last July, the 30 campuses and 14 regions Ivy Tech encompasses across the state leave a pretty large footprint, making Thursday her first visit to the campus as college president.
The former lieutenant governor — who briefly visited campus once in that role — liked what she saw.
“The facility is beautiful,” Ellspermann said. “It is A-plus for a learning environment for our students — both traditional and non-traditional.”
Dedicated in 2009, the 32,000-square-foot facility is situated on 30 acres on the city’s southeast side. The facility achieved LEED certification for energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies.
Ellspermann marveled not only at the views, but at the labs and classrooms within.
“I can tell you,” she said, “not all the other campuses look like this.”
During the brief tour, Ellspermann and Campus President Greg Cook spoke at length about the success the local campus has had with its LPN program.
Ellspermann’s highest praise, though, was for the local ASAP program and in particular Greencastle program coordinator Amanda Ostoich.
ASAP is the Associate Accelerated Program at the Ivy Tech Greencastle campus, offering an affordable associate’s degree achieved debt-free in 11 months for less than $10,000.
Just launched at Greencastle last summer, the program is preparing for its first set of graduates on May 6, all while watching the second class quickly fill.
“This is something you can’t get in a traditional college,” Ellspermann said. “If you don’t know what you want to do, this is a good place to figure it out while you’re making progress.”
Although the Greencastle was not the first Ivy Tech campus to implement the ASAP program, in less than a year it has become something of a shining example within the institution.
“That program is exceptional,” Ellspermann said. “There aren’t many campuses this size that have been so successful.”
While Ellspermann, Cook and others give much of the credit for the success to Ostoich, the coordinator marvels at what she sees in her students.
“Being in it and experiencing it is amazing,” Ostoich said. “One of the impressive things is watching the students build confidence.”
That confidence translates into four-year schools that are already recognizing the value of ASAP transfer students. Students in the current class at Greencastle have accepted offers to Purdue, Indiana, IUPUI, Indiana State and Ball State, with other possibilities still in the works.
“It’s almost an exception for them to not get accepted into the college of their choice,” Ellspermann said.
“It’s a gateway to college attainment,” Cook said.
With more than half the students as first-generation college students, they are both challenged and nurtured in the program. Serving both of those roles, Ostoich has quickly endeared herself to her students.
“I call myself coordinator but they call me ‘Mom,’” Ostoich said.
With not only the students, but the Greencastle ASAP program seemingly on the fast track to success, Ellspermann is hoping to use it as an example throughout Ivy Tech.
“Too often, our smaller campuses look at it and say, ‘We can’t do that here,’” Ellspermann told Ostoich and Cook. “I want to use what you’re doing as a model for others to see.”
Although Ivy Tech is on spring break this week, there was a bit of extra traffic on Thursday, not only from Ivy Tech executives, but from local business, government and education.
The Greencastle-Putnam County Development Center sponsored a luncheon for its workforce development committee to meet with Ellspermann and other Ivy Tech executives. It gave local leaders a chance to talk about what the community and the school can offer one another.
Ellspermann believes it’s the sort of model that could benefit individual communities and the entire state.
“What Ivy Tech is doing here is obviously partnering with all the quality community and education resources to serve this community and its employers in the best way we can.”