• Academic Institutions Series Intro

     

    The Duneland area is home to many universities and satellite campuses that are growing quickly in popularity for many reasons, including their location and their cost. This blog post is an introduction to a series of blog posts that I will be doing about these sites. So far I have plans for 3 posts in this series. These blogs will be broken down to cover Purdue North Central and Purdue Calumet in one blog, Indiana University Northwest and Indiana University South Bend in another, and Ivy Tech Valparaiso and Ivy Tech Michigan City in the last blog post. So keep your eyes peeled for them. Also, as this develops I might find some other colleges in the area and might add a blog post about them, so be on the lookout for those too. 

  • Academic Showcase: Ivy Tech Northwest

    For this installment of the Duneland Innovators Academic Series I will be covering the Ivy Tech locations that can be found around the area. There are four locations in the Duneland area. These locations are the Gary Campus, Foundations of East Chicago De La Garza Campus, Valparaiso Campus and The Pejic Campus in Michigan City. These campus' make up what is known as Ivy Tech Northwest.

    Ivy Tech Northwest offers courses in six different schools:  Applied Science and Engineering, Business, Education, Health Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Public and Social Services, and Technology. Most of these schools offer associate and bachelor degrees. There are continuing education courses available for those who want to further their education, however these courses are non-credited so no master or doctorate degrees are available. The schools have over 15,000 students enrolled at four locations. The Ivy Tech experience is one that enables people to obtain a highly valuable college degree without expending a great deal of time or money.

    I did have a chance to go to the Ivy Tech campus in Valparaiso and I have to say, I was quite impressed. The campus only consisted of one building, but the magnitude of this building was nothing to scoff at. The building consisted of a few floors and two wings, with a central hub connecting the two wings together, but the modern design of the building was what really impressed me. As a PNC student, I was a little jealous of the high-tech atmosphere that the Valparaiso Campus possesses. Something about this atmosphere struck me as a really great place to pursue a college degree. If you have a chance to visit the Valparaiso Campus I would highly recommend it. 

  • English Writing education, in and out of the classroom

    Writing was always my strongest suit in school. When everyone else had trouble with writing prompts or essay questions on tests, I could blow through them pretty easily. I could get through a term paper or longer assignment quickly, rather than taking the many weeks we were given to read and write out something. And I started writing more personal things on my own in my teen years. So, it was pretty natural that I’d become a writer.

    My degree in English Writing (from Purdue University Calumet) had a rather nebulous list of required courses. Most majors have a very fixed list of classes. Mine had only a few mandatory ones: the general introductory English courses, one in journalism and one called philosophy of art, which was like an English literature class in which you discussed the themes of a collection of works. Otherwise, students were free to choose from a list of classes ranging from journalistic (review writing) to artsy (creative writing) to business-oriented (business writing, which had at least as many management and business students as English) to graphic design and computer writing courses. I took all of the above, with an emphasis on computer courses because I figured writing for the web and other technologies would be a useful skill set.

    I learned some valuable skills from all the classes, no doubt. However, my degree represents only a small part of my education. Every classroom may have taught me specific skills, but what really developed my style, voice and ability was writing outside of classes. My internship with the university relations office and my job with the campus newspaper was instructive. I wrote much more frequently and with urgent deadlines, which really sharpened my skills more than a syllabus planned at the beginning of a semester.

    So, in pursuing a degree like this, the best advice I can give is to write as much as possible in addition to the classwork. Even if it seems like a lot, if you’re cut out for writing, you’ll be able to handle it. And practice makes perfect!

  • Kathleen Gibson | AdjunctProfessorLink.com

    Filling vacancies for adjunct professors takes quite a bit of time, apparently. While there’s no shortage of qualified candidates, it is just a matter of finding the right professor for the right teaching job.

    Adjunct Professor Link seeks to make this process as quick and easy as possible. The website, founded by Kathleen Gibson, helps both higher education and professors.

    A graduate of Valparaiso University in political science and a Juris Doctor, Gibson has taught graduate courses in law and humanities. Her experience as an adjunct professor and as a university administrator.

    “I understood the difficulty of finding a job, having to find a personal contact to put me in touch with a school.” Gibson said. “More recently as an administrator, I found out the difficulty of finding good adjunct instructors.”

    Adjunct Professor Link, which Gibson describes as sort of a hybrid between a social network and job search site, allows adjuncts to create a profile free of charge. They can upload their personal information from their existing social network profiles such as Facebook or LinkedIn, while providing further information on their qualifications, such as their field, experience, credentials and location. They can also post pictures and video, and share their professional achievements such as recommendations or links to their published works.

    Members can join as one of two sets of educators. One, Professional Educator, consists of professors looking to teach full time, mainly career faculty seeking to eventually attain tenure. The other set, Expert Instructor, refers to educators with a specific skill set or expertise that is qualified to teach. For such instructors, teaching is generally a secondary profession.

    “[They] could be older professionals looking for a second career,” Gibson said, “or individuals trying to stay current in their profession, or to share their experience. They can be very valuable in the classroom.”

    Universities pay a subscription fee to gain access to Adjunct Professor Link’s profiles, and search by certain criteria to find the right individual for the job. According to Gibson, a big criteria is simply geography, but they can search under such subject as discipline, years of experience or even teaching style.

    The site also features a blog in which professors or universities can post content or start discussions. However, Gibson stipulates that the point of the site really isn’t inter-professor communication or networking.

    “We’re more focused on helping adjuncts be found [by universities],” Gibson said.

    So far, Adjunct Professor Link’s focus is only on the Northwest Indiana area. However, plans are in place for expansion in the near future.

    “The goal is to take on a second market in January,” Gibson said. “Probably the Chicago Market, then establish other markets across the country.”

    To learn more visit the site: http://www.AdjunctProfessorLink.com

  • Purdue Calumet and Purdue North Central's final year

    Today is the first day of classes at my alma mater Purdue Calumet, and it might very well be the last first day. At least, the last one under that name.

    That’s because the process of combining Purdue Calument and Purdue North Central into one institution is now underway. Certain details of the merger are still undefined, but the general plan is to have the schools combine into Purdue University Northwest by summer 2016. Admission-wise, however, the schools plan to operate separately until next fall semester, so it’s safe to say this is the last normal school year.

    I’m not one for nostalgia, so I’m rather indifferent to the changing name. And as for the school mascot, “Peregrine Pride” never seemed quite as big as the school made it out to be (rumors or campaigns to change the mascot have popped up every so often). This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy life on campus, but the campus seems set to remain intact, so the sense of community and activities among the student body could survive under a new name.

    The most important thing is education, however. The reason for the merger appears to be money, and though nothing has been announced yet, the very idea of cutting costs brings to mind cutting jobs, namely professors. If that happens, it would not only be bad for the unfortunate professors, but it could limit class options for students.

    Ideally, this merger would mean that the combined faculty of both schools would be available to both the Hammond and Westville campuses. It would result in more options for class scheduling and more room in each program. Since there will now be two schools worth of teaching positions, maybe they could even offer more major programs (or at the very least reestablish the ones who were victims of the chopping block before, like my major English).

    Due to the reality of the bottom line, the ideal situation probably won’t happen. Still, the committee overseeing the merger should do what’s best for the students.