Higher education is changing. Fast. From the increasing competition in the work force, to changes in enrollment types and levels, American colleges and universities are having to adapt to an increasingly diverse and rapidly evolving society. In that vein, we asked four of the prominent universities in the Region how they plan on meeting these challenges in 2018.
What is the most innovative thing that your university is doing or plans to be doing? What challenges?
Calumet College of St. Joseph – Linda Gajewski
We must address the workplace preparation goals in the region, the state, and the nation. These goals seek to accelerate students' paths to earning a degree while more students are entering college underprepared in fundamental skills. Our challenge is to ensure that they have those fundamental skills in reading, writing, speaking, and thinking, while they encounter the best current thinking in their chosen majors. We are working directly with the three Catholic high schools in Northwest Indiana and our neighboring public school systems to help students move seamlessly from dual high school and college credit classes into bachelor's degree programs and then into master's degree programs. We are expanding our Lilly-funded EEON program that places our best students in meaningful two-year internships, so they have significant work experience upon graduation. And, with our business partners in the region, we are looking at our traditionally strong programs in Business, Criminal Justice, and Education, and our fast-growing programs in the sciences, to develop concentrations and approaches that will meet the needs of a changing workplace.
Indiana University Northwest - Vicki Roman-Lagunas
IU Northwest recently launched a university-wide effort to tackle the reasons that students fail to re-enroll and stay the course until graduation. Through our Retention Summit, a meeting of about 40 colleagues who represent every unit on campus, IU Northwest is examining about 50 data points that are helping us determine the reasons students fail to re-enroll. One- by-one, we are addressing the reasons students don’t continue and devising way to help them overcome the challenges that get in the way of earning their degree.
Also, through our “Reimagining the First Year” initiative, which is only about 18 months old, we are looking very closely at our pedagogical practices. We’re excited about the impact this is already having on our first-year students. Our freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, for example, has increased by 3.3 percent, which is a great success. I attribute all of that to the initiatives of Reimagining the First Year.
Purdue University Northwest - Katie Stompor
The Bioscience Innovation Building will feature state-of-the-art instructional and research facilities for nursing, biological sciences and STEM education. Groundbreaking for the newest PNW academic building is planned for the summer of 2018, with opening expected in 2020.
In addition to the new academic building that will be constructed, the spacious James B. Dworkin Student Services and Activity Complex opened in 2016 offering a fitness center, student lounges and recreational space, and the Great Hall for university and community meetings and events.
Valparaiso University - Kristen Knoerzer
Innovation continues to be a focus in higher education and at Valparaiso University. In fact, this past fall we opened the Innovation Hub at McMillan Hall. Business and community leaders will connect with students to provide real-world guidance and invaluable insights on business and organization projects. And in turn, these business leaders will gain access to workshops and events hosted at the Hub and benefit from academic research as well as diverse perspectives and creativity in the development of innovative solutions to concrete business issues. The Hub will grant students opportunities to work not only with local businesses, but national and international companies as well, preparing them for success in a dynamically changing, global marketplace in need of innovative thinkers.