Posted on 17 April 2013.
By Eric Stoff & Navar Watson
The physical campus of a university often is an ever-changing organism, just like the student body. Every year brings new faces to the campus, and with them, new needs and attitudes. So it stands to reason the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University changes in sync with the students who attend, and vice versa.
Jay McHenry, assistant vice president of campus planning and construction, says the campus is currently at the end of its second phase and about to enter its third.
“Marion College was ‘Campus 1.0.’ What we have today is ‘Campus 2.0.’ The next iteration is ‘Campus 3.0,’” says McHenry. “I think [our] new president will have a lot of new insight and expectations of what the next iteration will be.”
Marion College – Campus 1.0
Before IWU was Marion College, it was Marion Normal Institute, Dr. John Maher, professor of music, says. Normal schools specialized in the training of teachers, which explains why the education department has been such a highlight at IWU.
According to IWU’s website, trustees of the Indiana Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church were “driven by a desire to establish an institution of higher education in Indiana” and bought Marion Normal Institute in 1919. In 1920, the school officially became Marion College.
Maher attended Marion College as a student and began teaching there in 1978.
“The core is not hugely different,” Maher says, referring to the academics and close-knit community. The facilities, however, have drastically changed, especially within the last 20 years.
“Some of the facilities [used to be] poor, and there were people who would visit and say, ‘Well, I’m not going to let my son or daughter go here.’ I saw it happen. People would just turn around and leave,” says Maher.
McHenry says residence halls used to be a very different atmosphere as well: “More and more families have one or two kids. The old style of [a] residence hall was everybody shared a bathroom. [Now] that’s a hard sell. More people and more students will more likely be attracted to or want to have their own rooms and bathrooms.”
Maher explains that just because the campus was small didn’t mean the academics were poor.
He says visitors would often dismiss the school because of its size and wouldn’t consider “how many great composers learned and practiced from a sheet of paper and pencil and nothing more.
“Be always a little bit suspicious if somebody can’t teach certain things under a tree with a slate board,” Maher says.
Indiana Wesleyan University – Campus 2.0
The name of Marion College changed to Indiana Wesleyan University in 1988. Dr. Eunice Rickey, professor of music, believes changing the name from “college” to “university” has helped the school grow.
“Just the name alone has been a very attractive thing. Students that want to go out of state for a university and want to get away will pick something that’s got [an attractive] name,” says Rickey.
“[The construction] has done more than most students in Marion realize,” says Maher. He explains that the bigger facility attracts more students, which in turn, allows for more programs.
“We’ve always had strong students. There’s just more of them now,” says Maher. “We’re able to do more than we did.”
A larger student body has enabled certain areas, such as the Music Division, to be more ambitious, according to Maher. For example, it now able to utilize a full orchestra, jazz band and other various ensembles, which wasn’t feasible in the school’s early years.
Growth of the student body and the physical campus frequently occur in tandem, but it’s difficult to say which variable prompts the other. McHenry says it’s much like the “chicken or the egg” question.
He asks: “Does the number of students in residence halls drive the plan for more academic space? Or does your academic space bring more students on campus to make more residence halls?”
Regardless of which comes first, growth of campus means a growing list of maintenance jobs.
McHenry explains the current campus is relatively young, but it’s becoming more mature and the challenge that has begun to surface is what he calls “deferred maintenance,” replacing and improving a facility that is beginning to show signs of wear after it has been around for several years.
According to McHenry, a common challenge among all universities isn’t so much building its facilities, but maintaining them. Specifically, donated buildings are tough to deal with.
He explains, “Donors donate buildings, which are paid to be built, but then they become extremely expensive to maintain.” However, he thinks IWU does a good job of having good facilities that aren’t too expensive to manage.
“There’s a real legacy of facilities here and I think there’s a good balance of facilities. We’re making them nice, but we’re not making them so extravagant that they’re becoming maintenance nightmares,” says McHenry.
Future plans – Campus 3.0
As for the future of IWU’s campus, McHenry believes the new president will be the instrumental factor in directing changes. Specifically, McHenry says he thinks more communal spaces and the integration of more graduate school programs will shape the future alterations of campus.
Although he doesn’t know what having more graduate students on campus will look like, he says communal spaces like McConn Coffee Co., which is consistently crowded, will be of priority.
“That’s part of the nature of our institution, is having community,” says McHenry. “We want people to be together, so finding space for them to be together [and] finding spaces for them to do their work are important spaces to find.”
After attending, graduating and working for Marion College and IWU, Rickey is happy with the progression of the school over the years.
“I believe in the next generation,” says Rickey. “I really believe that they’re going to do new things. They love the Lord, and I’ve seen this over and over. They are more in-depth; they’re spiritually strong; they know where their strength comes from. I just see great promise.”