Campus Update: Welcoming a new IU Southeast

19th September 2022

New Albany, Ind. (September 19, 2022) — For the first time in three years, faculty, staff, and a few students crowded the Hoosier Room for a standing room only update on the state of the campus. The prognosis of the campus: we’ve had some challenges, but we’re making tremendous progress in constructing a post-pandemic IU Southeast. One that is better and different, one that is even more student friendly, flexible, and engaging.

Interim Chancellor, Kelly Ryan outside Hillside Hall at IU Southeast
Dr., Kelly Ryan, Interim Chancellor of IU Southeast

In her first campus-wide address since assuming the role of interim chancellor, Dr. Kelly Ryan recapped our journey so far, and challenged us as a campus to continue our evolution by adopting “students first” service. Her challenge: We must all wage war against attrition.

First, some highlights of the past year.

  • We’re a campus of 3,672 graduate and undergraduate students offering more than 180 degrees and certificates.
  • Enrollment is recovering. We experienced a three percent increase in new beginners and nine percent increase in transfer students for fall semester. This is despite a 12 percent decline in overall college-going rates in Indiana and Kentucky.
  • Our four-year graduation rate increased by over three percentage points to 36 percent.
  • Ninety-nine percent of our 2020/2021 graduates reported they were working or attending graduate school within their first year of graduation. 93 percent of those working reported careers associated with their degree.
  • We continue to offer new financial aid packages to students, resulting in a decrease of 10 percent of students who leave college with debt. Our students who have student loans also graduate with $10,000 less debt than the average student in Kentucky and Indiana because we have made it part of our mission to make college more affordable.
  • Campus administration and academic deans worked together to prioritize campus needs and make difficult budget decisions while still prioritizing campus raises. They were greatly assisted by the work of the campus budgetary affairs group and as a result, we are in a stronger position than we have been for several years.
  • We achieved new national accolades.
    • The Association for the Advance of Sustainability in Higher Education recently bestowed a Silver STARS (Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) rating showing that sustainability is built into both academic programming and campus financial planning. Read more about the award.
    • Third Way, a national think tank, recently recognized IU Southeast as a Tier 1 institution, the top 20 percent, for providing economic mobility especially among lower- and middle-income students. Because our graduates earn almost $10,000 more than high school graduates and pay off their education swiftly, IU Southeast paves a way towards more equity among marginalized populations.

Our focus always has been and always will be on our students. The incoming class of 2026 has great energy and interest in being engaged and part of our community. With an average grade point average of 3.38, this class is one of the strongest recruiting classes, academically, in over 13 years. Seventy-three percent are enrolled in at least one online course with nearly equal amounts of students choosing all online or all face-to-face modalities. Our students are busy, with 67 percent working more than 20 hours a week.

Students reported location, lower cost, and the quality of education as the top reasons for choosing IU Southeast. Career development is a priority for this class with more than 80 percent of first year students wanting to focus on developing their career interests and pathways toward future success.

That drive and determination to succeed does not come without some obstacles. Ryan noted that nearly one-third of college students, nationally, have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the number of reported cases of student anxiety having increased 50 percent over the past eight years. “Our students are looking to make connections as a result of their pandemic experiences,” said Dr. Ryan. “Ninety-one percent of first year students are looking forward to creating new friendships; 83 percent want to study with other students and 68 percent want to form a friendship with at least one professor.”

This is where the IU Southeast campus community comes into play. “We have an opportunity and a challenge for this campus around student success and re-enrollment that is greater than we have faced previously,” continued Ryan. “It’s also never been more important to do and be more for this generation.  Our campus has the ability to move forward and engage in charting a new future for this new generation.” 

War Against Attrition

As grenadiers, it is our duty to wage war, to fight and win battles. Our mission as grenadiers is to do our best by our students – to provide them with a staging ground for success. We need to, as educators, rethink our teaching, curriculum, and courses. “We need to teach students how to learn, how to fail and how to bounce back,” said Ryan. “I am asking you to remove barriers where you see them, by working with others, having conversations about what works, and adopting what is valuable.  Take a new look at your structure, policies, and offerings.  We cannot afford to lose this generation. Let’s be courageous and use fresh eyes . . .  immediately.” Ryan noted that strategies for proven success must include career integration, applied learning and inclusive teaching and learning. 

Ryan also challenged staff to understand the barriers our students face and to help them become their best selves. “If we have a policy or activity that doesn’t appear to be in line with student success, please bring it to the attention of administration,” she said.

New proud points and opportunities have been launched or are preparing for deployment including Employer Connect, IU Student Experience, Week of Welcome Plus, and increased community engagement including a new event this fall, IUS Fest, on October 29.  Additionally, the campus is scaling up online education to meet enrollment demands and the search for a permanent Chancellor has officially begun.

Lastly, Ryan encouraged everyone to take care of themselves and their wellbeing as they take care of each other. Determining what wellness looks like for the individual, then achieving that is key. “You are IU Southeast,” said Ryan.  “You are the grenadier.  Take care of yourself, actively.  A grenadier walks with purpose and passion.  Finds yours and hold on to it. Student success is your success.  Acknowledge your power and potential.”

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