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Editorial: New Ivy Tech chancellor good fit for community

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Much of what Columbus is and has to offer has been built through collaboration. Examples include The Commons, the Front Door Project and downtown redevelopment.

Such an approach also works in education. That’s why Chris Lowery, the new chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus/Southeast, seems like the perfect fit for this community.

He has just the right background and the ideal mindset to help deliver a trained workforce that can enable local businesses and the economy in general to prosper, and help students achieve high-demand jobs that offer good earnings potential.

Lowery has experience in business, as an education leader and in bringing Batesville’s educators and business operators together to make education gains in the community. His background and ideas are a good fit for Columbus, which has the Community Education Coalition, the Institute for Coalition Building and local businesses and schools already working together to increase graduation rates and degree attainment, and narrow the skills gap employers face.

His résumé is impressive and vast. Lowery most recently served as director of public policy and engagement for Batesville-based Hillenbrand Inc. He also worked in sales development, human resources, product leadership, marketing and strategic planning at Batesville Casket Co., a subsidiary of Hillenbrand.

Lowery served as Batesville Community School Board president, and also founded the Batesville Community Education Foundation and Batesville Roundtable. The roundtable brings representatives in business, education and the nonprofit sector together to share ideas.

From those discussions, a global exchange program in Batesville schools started, and the school will offer Mandarin Chinese this school year.

Most impressive, though, was Lowery’s ability to shepherd a partnership between the city of Batesville, private businesses, philanthropic organizations and individuals to fund and establish a full-scale Ivy Tech campus in Batesville, which opened in January 2013.

Lowery’s commitment to improving education opportunities through collaboration aligns perfectly with local efforts.

For example, the Community Education Coalition’s goal is for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. to strive for a 100 percent graduation rate.

The Education Coalition, Ivy Tech in Columbus and Cummins Inc. launched iGrad in 2012 to help achieve this goal by pairing students with adult graduation coaches and volunteer tutors and mentors.

With Lowery at the helm of the local Ivy Tech campus, it’s a given that he’ll work closely with business, education and community partners to meet education and employment goals. And given his track record and the strides local organizations are making, it’s a good bet that students, employers and the community as a whole will benefit from their collaboration.

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