Ivy Tech Community College has bought 27 acres of land next to its Franklin center and plans to expand by adding buildings and degree programs in the next decade.
The land purchase gives Ivy Tech the room to expand the center into a full-service regional campus in the future, but that likely wouldn’t occur for at least 10 years, said Tina Gross, executive director of the Franklin campus.
With a campus, Ivy Tech would be able to add buildings for classrooms and labs and would be able to expand its academic offerings from the three associate degree programs currently offered in Franklin.
The Franklin campus is part of Ivy Tech’s Columbus/Franklin region, based in Columbus. The region includes all or parts of Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Jennings and Johnson counties.
“The 27 acres kind of establishes this as a permanent location of Ivy Tech. We have short-term plans to build out the additional 9,000 square feet of this building, and the long-term plan would be to request a capital project from the Indiana General Assembly for a true, full-service campus,” Gross said.
Since moving to a location just east of Interstate 65 in 2008, enrollment at the Franklin center has tripled from 459 students in 2008 to a high of 1,332 students in 2010. Currently, about 1,200 students are enrolled. About 65 percent of those students live in Johnson County, with another 16 percent coming from Indianapolis, according to the college.
The Franklin learning center offers three degree programs and training courses for local industries, Gross said.
Expansion would allow the college to become a regional site, offering more courses, more degrees, additional staff and expanded services for admissions, financial aid and career planning.
The purchase was approved by the Ivy Tech board and foundation in late February. Ivy Tech paid $225,000 toward the purchase. The Franklin Development Corp., a nonprofit group that was created and funded by the city, gave the college $400,000 in grant funds. The development group’s board approved the grant in October as one of four projects totaling $1.3 million.
The expansion process is a long one, and Ivy Tech will have to get approval and funding from the state legislature before any work could begin in Franklin, Gross said. As a public college, Ivy Tech receives funding from state tax dollars.
But having the available space is the first step in the process, Gross said. Other Ivy Tech campuses around the state were able to grow after buying or receiving donations of land.
“We’re talking 10 years probably. Realistically, we would have to get established on the college list of priorities. Those requests are only reviewed at the General Assembly on a biannual basis,” Gross said.
First, officials plan to renovate the remaining space in the center, which totals about 9,000 square feet, to add classrooms, labs and offices, Gross said.
Ivy Tech has offered classes in Franklin for decades, in multiple locations including the former high school and Johnson Memorial Hospital.
In 2008, Ivy Tech moved to its current, 30,000-square-foot building at 2205 McClain Drive near I-65 and State Road 44.