By: Victoria Morales, Bicentennial Intern, Class of 2017, Psychology, Northwest
For a little over a month now, I have been gathering research on the history of Indiana University Northwest. The research has helped me to gain a better understanding of IU Northwest’s journey—dating back to its onset in the 1920’s—and how it has since grown into a dignified and respected regional campus of Indiana University.
My supervisor, Archivist-Curator of the Calumet Regional Archives, Mr. Steve McShane, provided me with Volume 35 of Steel Shavings, Educating the Calumet Region: A History of Indiana University Northwest, which contains a collection of oral history reports by members of the IU Northwest campus community, which has helped me tremendously in building upon my research. It is incredible to imagine that the foundation of IU Northwest began in 1921 when the earliest documented night courses were offered at a local Gary school (Lane and Kern 1).
These “extension courses” of Indiana University offered at the Gary Center served to provide affordable education to local residents of the community, with tuition being only $4 per credit hour (Lane 1)! Through the 1920’s and 1930’s, Indiana University extension courses in the Calumet Region expanded even beyond the city of Gary and into cities west, eventually opening the Hammond-Whiting-East Chicago Center, which was later renamed the Calumet Center (Lane 4).
Enrollment continued to rise over the years, attracting many nontraditional, working-class, and culturally diverse students. The increased interest in higher education ultimately led to the IU Gary Center’s move to Glen Park in the spring of 1959, which is where IU Northwest still remains today (Lane 33).
It really is remarkable to consider the growth that IU Northwest has experienced within the last century and how many have worked hard to make our education possible.
Since the move to Glen Park, the expansion of IU Northwest has continued to develop in many different aspects, such as offering a variety of degrees and programs, as well as supporting numerous student organizations and events.
The 1960’s, for example, held much opportunity for IU Northwest. In 1967, IU Northwest’s first commencement ceremony was held. A physical expansion also took place on campus grounds, with Raintree Hall and the Moraine Student Center officially opening in 1969 (Lane 75).
Both of these buildings still stand today, and considering I spend much of my time between these two buildings, I have come to appreciate them much more.
During the following decade of the 1970’s, athletics on campus became more popular (Lane 95). In addition, ideas for a regional medical program were proposed and arranged, and cultural and racial diversity among students and faculty became more prevalent (Lane 99, 118).
Development on the IU Northwest campus continued to increase through the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s, and it still continues to increase today. Just two years ago, the plan for a new Arts and Sciences building on our campus was approved. I cannot wait to see what the future of IU Northwest holds for generations to come.
I also found it helpful to read articles from the IU Northwest student newspapers of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, named The Centerion and The Northwest Phoenix, depending on the year.
The student input on campus topics, such as the birth of new buildings and the changing of chancellors, has helped me to gain better insight into the students’ perspectives of growth within the campus, as well as which topics were most important to students at those times.
Conducting research regarding the history of the IU Northwest campus will help me to better communicate with the IU Northwest alumni that I plan to interview for my oral history project.
Lastly, compiling a list of alumni to interview has been another one of my key tasks through the past month.
My mentor for the Bicentennial internship, Director of Alumni Relations, Ms. Paulette LaFata-Johnson, has helped me to recognize potential interviewees that I could contact, providing me with plentiful information on their journeys while at IU Northwest, as well as ideas of where their IU Northwest degrees have taken them within their careers.
I am excited to conduct my oral history interviews to learn more about the ways in which IU Northwest has impacted the lives of those who once attended!
Read more about the campus wide oral history project here:
Lane, James B., and Paul Bentley. Kern, eds. Steel Shavings. Educating the Calumet Region: A History of Indiana University Northwest. Vol. 35. Gary, IN: Indiana University Northwest, 2004. Print.