Ivy Tech Community College wants to make $16.9 million in improvements to its Columbus campus, but as a state school it needs needs approval from the Indiana Legislature to go forward with that work.
The request is rooted in a desire to expand current courses that are helpful in meeting the workforce needs of Hoosier employers.
Specifically, school officials want to renovate Poling Hall in order to add instructional space. The 80,400-square-foot building is the school’s primary facility, housing dental, nursing and visual communications classes, for example, plus faculty and staff offices, the Express Enrollment Center and the bookstore. The proposed renovations also would include replacing the original roof and mechanical systems of the 35-year-old building. Additionally, Poling Hall would meet new Ivy Tech standards and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations with the proposed renovations.
Ivy Tech previously had a $25 million expansion and renovation proposal of the Columbus shot down in 2013, but state lawmakers would be wise to strongly consider this latest proposal.
Ivy Tech’s request makes sense for several reasons:
- At a time when more people are going back to school to get skills and certifications to help them land new or better jobs, Ivy Tech has become the go-to institution in the state to facilitate those needs.
- Ivy Tech has the greatest number of students among the three largest colleges in Columbus.
- Ivy Tech’s fall enrollment at the Columbus increased 1.5 percent from 2015 to 2016.
Education is critical to a person’s ability to secure a good job. Additionally, employers are seeking employees who have enhanced skill sets. Ivy Tech has been working hard to meet both goals at its campuses statewide, and the proposed improvements at the Columbus campus are in line with that mission.
The Indiana Legislature should view Ivy Tech’s proposal as an education-and-workforce priority and fund it.