Dr. Deborah Curtis column sig

A global pandemic has accelerated the challenges Indiana citizens face when competing for great paying jobs that lead to a better quality of life.

Work is changing in Indiana and throughout the United States. Our public institutions of higher education are positioned to strengthen the skilled workforce pipeline while attracting talent from out of state. However, we must do more to help re-energize the state of Indiana to compete globally. We must continue to work together to educate and prepare citizens positioned to take advantage of our state’s opportunities.

We are calling upon public higher education in Indiana to partner with business, industry, and employers to meet the talent needs of this great state. In fulfilling our distinctive mission, Indiana State University is doing its part and earlier this month, we announced a bold initiative for the citizens of Indiana. We call it the “Indiana State Advantage,” a three-pronged guarantee that is unique for a public university anywhere in the country and is focused on our value proposition of opportunity, quality, and affordability. The outcome of this value proposition is a great career in Indiana.

The Indiana State Advantage provides for an experiential guarantee as every first-time, full-time student starting in Fall 2022 can apply for up to $3,000 for an educational experience outside the classroom — — an internship, study abroad, research, or service. We are doing this because we know that graduates who gain important out-of-classroom experiences are even more prepared to achieve career success. To realize the potential of this commitment, it will require that business, industry, and other employers welcome these students into their workplace for internships or other experiential opportunities to complete the loop on this important step in the preparation of work-ready graduates.

The Indiana State Advantage provides for a tuition-free guarantee as we will make up any difference in tuition costs for Pell Grant eligible students from the state of Indiana who have a high school grade point average of at least 3.0 and are in good academic standing. Indiana talent runs deep, yet barriers to accessing a high quality post-secondary education must be addressed. We are doing this because we believe that the cost of college should not prevent someone from pursuing higher education and achieving the American dream.

The Indiana State Advantage provides for a four-year guarantee as eligible students will be able to finish their bachelor’s degree in four years (or less) or the rest is tuition free. Extended time to degree is the enemy of completion for many college students. We are doing this because we are committed to helping our students stay focused on achieving academic success in a reasonable amount of time.

It is time for collaboration between post-secondary public education in Indiana and our partners in business, industry, and other endeavors that work every day to make our economy stronger. This Indiana State University priority is our compact with our fellow citizens. It augments our work in changing lives with on-campus and innovative distance education academic programs. It complements our continued laser-like focus on providing high-quality education, small class sizes, caring professors, and a culture of inclusion and support. It is driven by our commitment to imparting knowledge, inspiring lifelong learning, and providing experiences that ensure our students are workforce-ready upon graduation.

Whether or not you know much about Indiana State University, it is time to take another look. Now, more than ever, is the time for public higher education to do more. This is our call to action. In partnership with business and industry, ISU will continue to be the leader in educating Indiana citizens for high paying jobs in Indiana.

Dr. Deborah J. Curtis is president of Indiana State University.

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