The Indiana University Council for Regional Engagement and Economic Development, or CREED, addresses regional economic concerns and identifies ways that IU can use its resources to advance economic development efforts in the state. Each IU campus has a CREED representative, appointed by the campus’s chancellor or provost.
Crimson Catalyst: Why is community engagement important to IU Kokomo?
Cathy Valcke: Because we are a regional campus, it is an integral part of our mission to lift up our region, be a resource and a good partner in our communities, support economic development initiatives, and raise the educational attainment level in north-central Indiana. It is part of our campus strategic plan, and we value the partnerships we have developed throughout our service region, especially those with our K-12 colleagues.
CC: Why is regional economic development important to IU Kokomo?
CV: A strong and vibrant economy benefits everyone, and when companies locate and invest in our region, they create jobs for our graduates.
CC: What vision or priorities does your chancellor have regarding regional engagement and economic development?
CV: Being a “steward of place” is a key strategic goal for the campus, and becoming a valued regional partner is high on Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke’s list of priorities. Under her leadership, advisory boards have been established in most of the counties that we serve, so we have a vehicle to listen and respond to the needs in our region. The campus has also created a Center for Community Engagement to make it easier for our regional communities to get in touch with the campus when needs arise.
The chancellor is committed to the mission of our regional campus, which is to serve north-central Indiana and bring the resources we have to lift up the region and increase degree attainment so that we are competitive in a global economy. To quote Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke, “In this region, we must lead by encouraging traditional and nontraditional students to see a college degree not as a financial burden but as an essential vehicle for the world they live in. We must encourage all students — first-generation students, 21st Century Scholars, and newly immigrated populations and returning adults.”
Realizing that not all children have the conversation at home about going to college, another key priority for the chancellor is to have students from all K-12 school corporations in our service region visit campus. To date, we have had over 10,000 K-12 students on campus to see what “going to college” looks like.
CC: How has the region benefited from IU Kokomo’s involvement and leadership?
CV: IU Kokomo was involved in the development of the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council, a 501(c)(3) organization that works on behalf of six counties in our service region. We facilitated the organizational meetings that led to the formation of the council, and Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke serves on its board of directors. Since its inception in 2014, the NCIRPC has had a direct impact of over $3 million in grant funding throughout the six counties, and over $1 million in indirect impact.
CC: What potential opportunities exist for IU Kokomo and the region?
CV: We continue to develop partnerships with K-12 school systems in an effort to introduce the idea of going to college to all students. We also have the opportunity to work with our partners to further strengthen our regional economy and work together as a region to bring new business investments to north-central Indiana.