RENSSELAER, Ind. (WLFI) - Soon students will be back on campus at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer. However, these will be students enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College. As News 18 previously reported, the two institutions are collaborating by offering Ivy Tech classes on SJC's campus.
"It's a new initiative with old friends is how we see it," said Sherry Shipley. She is the Dean of the Schools of Business, Logistics and Supply Chains and IT at Ivy Tech Lafayette
"St. Joe's is excited by the partnership," said Dr. William Carroll, spokesperson for St. Joseph's College.
This isn't the first time that Ivy Tech Lafayette has partnered with St. Joseph's College. Ivy Tech has done transfers with SJC and Ivy Tech has had classes on its campus offered through SJC. Ivy Tech will offer four classes on the Rensselaer campus starting in January.
"We will offer English composition, a communications public speaking class, intro to education and then the second eight weeks, starting in March, Microsoft Excel," said Dean Shipley. "And the excel class can be part of the Next Level jobs program if anyone is interested in pursuing that funding."
After the first semester, Ivy Tech will re-evaluate the courses that could be offered in Rensselaer for the fall 2020 semester. Dean Shipley said they have had a lot of interest expressed from people wanting to teach and study at SJC as part of the collaboration. She added that the goal is to have all the classes taught by local people who are connected to the local community, economy and job force.
Ivy Tech Lafayette serves 10 surrounding counties, including Jasper and Newton Counties. It's a solid 50 minute drive from Rensselaer to the Ivy Tech campus on South Creasy Lane. The collaboration with SJC will give students in that northern region an option closer to home.
"That is quite the commute," said Dr. David Bathe, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Lafayette. "We are happy for them have that opportunity in addition to online, but to also have classes on the campus there."
Alumnus John Paczesney said the news has had mixed reviews from fellow alumni. Several have discussed it on the SJC Puma Pride Facebook page.
"Some people think it's positive, some people think it's negative," he said. "I think it's kind of a wait and see thing right now."
Paczesney said the Ivy Tech students will most likely only have access to one of the building on campus and most likely won't use some of the SJC's most beloved landmarks, like the church and the grotto. He has a question for the leaders at SJC.
"What does this do as far as making St. Joe an institution on it's own or in partnership so that we can have students back living on campus?" he asked.
Dr. Carroll said this is a unique public-private institution partnership that will be an excellent example for other small universities struggling to stay afloat, even if they are going into this collaboration without a blueprint.
"Including the public sector where we're not competing with Ivy Tech, we're inviting them onto the campus to begin with and offering programs, which we hope we can build on," said Dr. Carroll.
Dr. Carroll said, while he wasn't around in 2017 when St. Joseph's College gave up it's accreditation due to financial struggles, he understands the frustrations of the SJC alumni. And while there may have been a lot of silence lately, they intend to keep the promise given back in 2017.
"My message to alumni is, we're working hard behind the scenes, we're coming out with a plan in 2020 that will be shared with everybody," he said. "So stay tuned, there are good things coming."
Dr. Carroll said there will be a board of trustees meeting on January 8th to officially approve the 2020 plan. Anyone interested in enrolling in Ivy Tech classes on the SJC campus can call (765) 269-5297 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The application to Ivy Tech is free.