5.0 Engagement and Regional Development

5.0 Engagement and regional development

The Regional Campuses are engaged in the lives of their communities, regions, and the state, and support development as part of their core mission. Each of the Regional Campuses now has a mission statement that embraces community engagement and being a strong steward of place.

Action items

Partner with regional governments, schools, health care organizations, businesses, and others to address critical state and regional needs.

From their earliest days, the Regional Campuses have proudly served in their role as stewards of place, answering the call from their public and private community partners to mutually take advantage of opportunities and confront challenges. On issues ranging from economic development to support for teachers and the schools to regional planning to community health and more, the IU Regional Campuses have partnered with a wide range of local stakeholders to identify problems, reciprocally explore potential solutions, and test those solutions in real life. Currently, the Regional Campuses serve 52 counties in Indiana. The faculty and staff of each of these campuses are working in the communities they serve in collaboration with mayors, school corporation superintendents, economic development directors, chamber presidents, nonprofit organizations, etc., to combine leadership, knowledge, and expertise for building a prosperous and innovative Indiana.

A few examples of this work include:

  • Partnering with local school systems to engage students of all ages in a conversation about the importance of earning a college degree (providing tours, lessons, and support).
  • Providing leadership on economic development boards, chamber committees, etc.
  • Serving on boards of arts and cultural organizations.
  • Supporting numerous community events and organizations such as 100 Black Men, Angel Walk, Economic Outlook Breakfast, the Urban League, La Casa de Amistad, public broadcasting, regional museums, halls of fame, etc.
  • Working with Alzheimer’s patients in a painting program to “Open Minds Through Art.”
  • Providing service at community health fairs, and FAFSA assistance.
  • Helping elementary students who are struggling with math and reading to succeed through programs like Math Counts and Third Grade Reading Academy.

These examples illustrate some of the different ways that university campuses can work with (community engagement) and for (service) our communities. All of these examples and others connect the university to the community, leveraging the state’s investment in both higher education and critical public priorities (e.g., economic development). Resources invested in connecting the university and its communities will provide returns in both areas and create new opportunities in their synergy.

Offer certificate, undergraduate, and graduate academic programs that support local and regional development needs and adult learners.

See Measures of Success under The Collaborative Imperative.

Support, in addition to disciplinary research, faculty research based on or directed to regional needs and circumstances.

In 2016, UAA launched its Regional Campus Grand Challenges initiative. Parallel to the broader IU Grand Challenge initiative, the Regional Campus Grand Challenge initiative sponsored local and regional interdisciplinary applied research that leveraged the unique collaborative structure of the Regional Campuses. Sponsored projects fell into two broad categories:

Making Indiana Healthier This facet of the initiative leverages the connections between health care education on our Regional Campuses and the communities that they serve in order to promote a healthier Indiana and to gain a deeper understanding of Indiana’s health care challenges.

A successfully funded project housed at IU Southeast focused on food insecurity. Many IU Regional Campus students suffer from food insecurity. Nationally, food insecurity of college students ranges from 14–59%. The IU Southeast project, Feeding Minds and Building Community, empowered students to solve this problem for themselves through applied research and community organizing to create bi-weekly access to affordable, fresh, local, organic produce purchased wholesale from Indiana farmers.

Making Indiana Smarter This facet of the initiative emphasizes the centrality of education in sustaining our democracy and creating economic opportunity for all. By focusing on P–16 education, our Regional Campuses promote and enhance the educational pipeline from elementary school through higher education. A successfully funded project at IU Northwest formed an IU Regional Campuses health consortium to create a new multi-track, interdisciplinary umbrella program to serve students interested in health care professions who either wish to enhance their current degree program with a minor or certificate or who wish to explore new professional options while acquiring certification.

Create local and regional partnerships for infrastructure, educational opportunities, cocurricular activities, and regional development.