Ivy Tech officials face final hurdle for new campus

Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Artist's depiction of new Ivy Tech campus to be completed in 2009

Work is predicted to begin this spring on Ivy Tech's new campus at Rokicki Park in Greencastle, pending one final appeal to state officials.

Recently, the State Commission on Higher Education gave its recommendation of $8 million for construction of the project, which it will send on to the State Budget Committee next month. Ivy Tech officials are anticipating this to be the last hurdle before actual construction can begin.

"I'm very pleased that the project has come along the way it has," Ivy Tech Region 7 Chancellor Jeff Pittman told the BannerGraphic during a visit with Mayor Sue Murray recently. "I'm just so appreciative of the city and all it has done to help this project. I'm grateful for Sen. Connie Lawson for her dedication to this project and the many others involved."

Pittman and the mayor met this week to discuss continued plans for the 32,000-square-foot education facility and to strategize for next month's meeting with the budget committee.

The new facility will house Ivy Tech programs in business, education, health services, arts and science as well as the Department of Workforce and Economic Development.

It will serve Putnam, Clay, Hendricks, Montgomery, Morgan, Owen and Parke counties, addressing both educational and local workforce needs.

"This has been a true team effort for education," said State Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville). "It's been exciting to work with State Rep. Amos Thomas, local officials, employers, economic development organizations and other educational institutions to make this happen.

There are lots of dreams out there, people eager to improve themselves in many different fields for better job opportunities in the future. This facility will be a springboard to help make those dreams come true."

Pittman said recently that he and the mayor are planning a groundbreaking ceremony to take place sometime this spring, provided the state financing board gives final approval of the money next month.

The campus is slated to be built at Rokicki Park, at the corner of Veteran's Memorial Highway and First Street.

Last year, the city deeded 30 acres of the park to Ivy Tech for the project. The land is primarily covered by trees and Pittman said Ivy Tech plans to preserve most of them. There is also a small lowland area with a stream on the property that Pittman says will be preserved as well.

Construction of the campus is predicted to last a little less than two years, wrapping up in December of 2009. Classes are set to begin in January of 2010, Pittman said.

"Time is going by quickly," he said.

Construction dollars aside, Ivy Tech is also getting ready to launch the public phase of its $1.9 million capital campaign, funds from which will be used to buy computers and other technology to go inside the completed building.

One major donation to the campaign came from the Putnam County Community Foundation where $375,000 in total grants were issued last fall.

"This is a home run for our area," Lawson said. "Construction of a new campus sends a powerful message to potential employers about the Greencastle area. It says that education is highly valued here and that the people of this area are busy improving themselves for the future. It makes our area even more marketable to businesses looking to expand."

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