It is hard to believe that we are already approaching the mid-point of the 2017 Fall Semester, but we have had a good start to the academic year and the time has passed quickly. We should have a full solar eclipse on the first day of every Fall Semester. In addition to being genuinely interesting, it was a lot of fun to join so many students and colleagues enjoying the event on our lawns.
The first week of the Semester was punctuated by a very special day for our campus on Friday, 25 August 2017. The day began with our inaugural First-Year Student Induction ceremony, which took place in the stunning theater of our new Arts & Sciences Building. The formal Induction is part of the Re-Imagining the First Year project that has engaged many faculty and other colleagues in Academic and Student Affairs. The presence of such a large number of faculty colleagues in the academic regalia that we will wear when the students graduate created an enduring image and message for the students who participated: they are full members of the IU Northwest academic community and we are here to enable them to be successful.
Friday, 25 August 2017 was also the day when members of the campus, Indiana University and Northwest Indiana communities gathered to officially dedicate the Arts & Sciences Building, in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College. The setting, once again, was our new, state-of-the-art theater, where the Presidents of Indiana University and Ivy Tech (Michael McRobbie and Sue Ellspermann) both spoke, along with members of the Northwest Indiana legislative delegation and Ivy Tech Lake County Chancellor R. Luis Gonzales and me. Music is an integral part of an IU building dedication and the large audience heard our own Billy Foster on piano and a performance by the Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy Concert Choir that earned a standing ovation. But, for me, two of the most meaningful and memorable moments of the dedication were the remarks by Performing Arts Professor Mark Baer and Student Government Association President Gabriela Jaimes.
Several private gifts and a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission made it possible to end Friday, 25 August 2017 with a well-attended concert by the Northwest Indiana Symphony. IU Northwest has had a longstanding relationship with the Symphony and the concert was very well-received by the campus colleagues and community members who attended. The Symphony played well and very much enjoyed our new performance space because, as we learned, our theater has very good acoustics. Overall, it was a great day for our campus and the Northwest Indiana community and a fine way to begin the academic year. Many thanks to all of those who worked so hard on the many details that made 25 August 2017 so enjoyable.
The Arts & Sciences Building is occupied and in full operation this term, after a very smooth move-in during the summer months. The students and faculty from whom I hear like the building and its many interesting and student-friendly features very much. Fine Arts students are working in custom-designed studios and advanced students are already filling their individual studio spaces with art. Students in other disciplines are finding the classroom spaces comfortable and well-equipped. There will continue to be a great deal to learn about how to realize the full academic potential of such a large, complex building. Our colleagues and students in Performing Arts, for example, are getting better acquainted with the intricacies and capabilities of our fully-professional theater facilities (including the neighboring studio [“black box”] theater). And the Fine Arts faculty mounted a wonderful inaugural show in the art gallery that also helped to emphasize the scale and attractiveness of the theater foyer.
The Arts & Sciences Building is a great addition to our campus and neighborhood that is sure to enhance day-to-day campus life for both IU Northwest and Ivy Tech students.