By: Kevin Schascheck, Bicentennial Intern, Class of 2019, International Business and German, South Bend
At our founding, Indiana University at South Bend was more comparable to a Bloomington colony rather than being emblematic of the South Bend community. Today, we see a very different story. IUSB has three buildings dedicated to classes and offices, a library, and a student activities center, along with campus housing on the other side of the river, which is connected through the symbolic red bridge that unites our campus into one entity.
The first extension class in South Bend was taught in the 1915-1916 school year and cost only $6. In 1922, IUSB offered its first classes at Central High School, which is now an apartment complex in downtown South Bend.
Most of the classes were taught at night in order to accommodate both young students and adults who sought the services of the extension center. In 1941, the school had its first full-time faculty member, Dr. Ernest Gerkin. In 1959, IU President Herman B Wells presided at the groundbreaking for our first building, Northside Hall.
The university acquired more land in 1960, which put IUSB in a strategic position for future growth. Disaster struck South Bend in 1964 when the Studebaker Automotive Corporation closed, destroying people’s livelihoods and retirement pensions.
South Bend saw a decline for years after that and it was during those difficult times that we obtained our first chancellor, Dr. Lester Wolfson.
Three years after Wolfson’s appointment, in 1965, our university was granted the right to confer Bachelor Degrees. Two years later, IUSB had its first graduating class, with a total of thirty-one students.
In 1968, a year that faculty and staff still remember quite well, there was a protest held on campus by Dr. Kenneth Lux. In November 2016, another one was held over the 2016 presidential election and is documented in the IUSB Archives.
The 1970s were a busy decade for IUSB, starting off with an addition to Northside Hall. On May 6, 1971 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Northside addition, a peaceful protest occurred, in response to the Vietnam War, with Chancellor Wolfson’s daughter, Alice, participating.
Chancellor Wolfson afterwards wrote a letter to President Nixon, stating that he was concerned about the safety of the campus community after the Kent State University shootings. Nixon responded, and this letter is also in the campus archives.
The Savage Report was another product of the 1970s, and was so named due to Professor Earl Savage, who was on the Savage Committee. The Savage Report was submitted in 1974 from Indiana University South Bend. The Savage name was kept deliberately due to it sounding appropriate for the message of the committee.
It was also intended to lessen the visibility of Professor George Wing, who was the primary author. Professor George Wing had a strong personality and was never afraid to voice his opinions. For some examples, see his work in the Archives called “South Bend and the Quality of Life.”
The purpose of the Savage Report was to document what faculty believed was the unfair level of support for regional campuses, in particular IUSB. They examined IU financial reports and listings of resources to show regional students received much less for their tuition money than students in Bloomington did.
For example, Bloomington had a golf course and multiple tennis courts while IUSB had one ping-pong table. The labs were insufficient and there was no library on campus. The committee was told that their numbers were wrong by Bloomington officials. The report was intended to create a stir and thus put Chancellor Wolfson in an awkward position. He could not publicly agree to it, though he could in private.
IUSB received a large pledge in 1984 from Franklin D. Schurz, a media mogul and the owner of Schurz Communications, ergo the South Bend Tribune, to help fund the building of an IUSB library. Before the library opened in 1989, Chancellor Cohen replaced Chancellor Wolfson, who retired after a successful career as the head of our campus in 1987.
1994 was a big year for the expansion of IUSB. Wiekamp Hall was built along with a parking garage. Across the St. Joseph River which forms the northern border of the campus, IUSB purchased a golf course which was set to be turned into housing.
Chancellor Cohen was succeeded by Kenneth Perrin, who held the post until 2002, when Una Mae Reck, our first female chancellor, was appointed.
Four years later our red bridge was built and then the Elkhart Center was established in 2007. After that, in 2008, dorms were built, and thus IUSB became a traditional campus. In 2013, Chancellor Terry Allison took office.
The kind of stories I have been able to hear, as well as the general history of IUSB, have been an amazing experience. Our campus has a rich history to offer, and I sincerely hope that others will be able to appreciate our university’s past as much as I now do.