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Students work to stop world hunger

Since early last semester, a handful of students have been working toward founding a new organization on Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus to help prevent hunger on both local and international scales.

Andrew Craft (fr) has been the driving force behind the IWU chapter of Swipe out Starvation, a program that uses meal swipes to donate food to various organizations focused on feeding the hungry.

Swipe out Starvation originally began on Purdue University’s campus. Craft’s cousin, the original founder, is now partnering with him to start up a new division at IWU, according to Craft.

“It’ll be run by IWU, by me, and there’s just a few things that we have to abide by legally with the brand,” Craft said. “But other than that, we’ll be able to run this ourselves.”

The process for donating, Craft said, involves using a meal swipe to purchase a donation to the three partners Swipe out Starvation is working with—Heifer International, Land of 1000 Hills and a local food bank that has yet to be determined.

According to Craft, the organization will be mostly student funded, and he is hoping they will be able to partner with churches in the area to aid some of the group’s future financial needs.

Such expenses would include the informational cards that donors receive when they donate a meal swipe.

“The cards are supposed to educate students about the impact of hunger,” Craft said. “And they don’t really see the money coming out of their pocket, so I feel like people would be more willing to help. And we can make an impact.”

Unlike other meal swipe donating programs IWU has partnered with in the past, Craft shared, Swipe out Starvation will not just be available at the end of the semester, but throughout the whole school year.

Craft is still working out many details at this point of the process, such as which aspects of IWU’s food services will participate in Swipe out Starvation and how much of a donation each meal swipe will be worth.

Craft hopes that by the end of the Spring 2014 semester, Swipe out Starvation will be fully established and running on IWU’s campus.

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IWU expands to Australia

Three years ago, Rev. Dr. Richard Waugh, national superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand, visited Indiana Wesleyan University. Waugh advocated the demand for Christian higher education in Australia and New Zealand.

Dr. Bridget Aitchison, IWU’s dean for international programs, understood the need, having lived 20 years in Australia.

“Students in the U.S. are so fortunate to have. … [the] choice of strong Christian universities, but in most of the world there are none,” she wrote in an email to The Sojourn.

IWU and Wesley Institute officials meet to discuss partnership.

IWU and Wesley Institute officials meet to discuss partnership.              Courtesy photo // Bridget Aitchison

This thought combined with Waugh’s demand and began a “long series of conversations,” Aitchison said, ultimately resulting in the partnership between IWU and the Wesley Institute of Sydney, Australia.

Earlier this month, IWU President David Wright officially announced the board of trustees gave the university approval to acquire Wesley Institute as the first international campus of the university.

The small college, he said, was “looking for a major Christian partner to become their umbrella so that they could grow to a university status.”

Founded in 1983, Wesley Institute was Australia’s first Christian arts college, according to its official website.

Aitchison said Wesley Mission in Sydney considered closing the school five years ago, but one of Australia’s top businessmen, Phillip Cave, rescued the school, hoping one day it would reach university status with the help of a larger, Christian partner.

IWU will serve as that larger, Christian partner.

“We have a lot of work in front of us,” Wright said. “When we put this opportunity in front of the board, they said this feels like something that God wants us to do with us and in us and through us.”

An important part of this partnership, however, is to maintain the Australian identity of the school.

“One of things we’ve said to all interested parties here is that we’re not really interested in just transplanting an American university to Australia. That doesn’t serve our purposes,” Wright said.

For example, Australians taking classes at the new location will not want a U.S. degree. They’ll want an Australian degree.

“We are creating a global learning community that honors the distinctives and the identity of each of the places but is one system,” Wright said. “We want something that’s a part of IWU but that is very distinctly Australian.”

Wesley Institute was the first Wesley Christian college in Australia when it opened in 1989.

Wesley Institute was the first Christian arts college in Australia when it was founded in 1983.  Courtesy photo // Bridget Aitchison

IWU officials will spend the next nine months working out the process of partnering with Wesley Institute, Wright said. IWU will buy the institution for one dollar “because it has to transfer hands.”

Over the next five years, IWU will invest in some of its research and development money to support the financial demands of the project. It will take about $5.7 million to get Wesley Institute into a new location and “help them move from where they are to full university status,” Wright said.

According to Chief Financial Officer Duane Kilty, the funds of this project will not have a negative impact on students. For example, they will not directly lead to any tuition jumps.

Kilty said $3 million of the $5.7 million total will “renovate a new leased facility” and go toward a relocating Wesley Institute. The current lease, which cannot be renewed, expires in 2015.

Another $2 million will fund additional marketing during the first five years, and the rest will finance the development of new programs, additional faculty and other operational needs.

Wright said IWU will treat the $5.7 million as a loan the Australia location will pay back in years to come. Once IWU receives the money back, Wright said it will go toward other global opportunities for the school.

“We don’t see … IWU Australia as a way for IWU USA to make money,” Wright said. “We see this as a way for us to broaden and enrich the mission of Indiana Wesleyan University. The funds that we invest are really intended to extend the reach of Christ-centered higher education outside of this country.”

Kilty said, “Once the acquisition is complete, [there] will be wonderful benefits for Marion students.”

Aitchison hopes that having a plant in Australia will help students’ intercultural skills.

She cited Dr. Wright for saying if a student graduates and never leaves Grant County, there is still a high possibility he or she will work with international companies and suppliers.

“We have to prepare our students for the realities of a global world,” Aitchison said. “Having the links between IWU and IWU campuses in other countries will help with the internationalization of our students’ experiences.”

According to Aitchison, some IWU students have already had experience at Wesley Institute. The school, she said, is an affiliate member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and has hosted the BestSemester study abroad program in Sydney.

Wesley Institute specializes in the creative performing arts, such as music, drama, and dance.

Wesley Institute specializes in the creative performing arts, such as music, drama, and dance.  Courtesy photo // Bridget Aitchison

“This opportunity really provides a range of academic programs that our students can plug into and become a part of,” Wright said. “I believe it really will offer a rich smorgasbord of exchange opportunities, study abroad opportunities, [and] faculty collaboration opportunities.”

Wesley Institute offers undergraduate bachelor’s degrees in the per

forming creative arts, such as dance, drama, music and graphic design, Aitchison said. It also offers master’s degrees in education, counseling, music, leadership and applied ethics.

Instead of short-term study abroad trips, Wright hopes students and faculty consider staying a full year at the Australian location.

Though the board approved the partnership earlier this month, IWU must still have the approval of the Higher Learning Commission. Wright and his associates are writing a proposal for the committee due in December. The HLC, which monitors the accreditation of colleges in the North Central region, will review this proposal and either approve or deny it in June.

If the partnership goes through, IWU Australia will become the first and only Evangelical Christian university in Australia. It will also be the first Christian university of the Wesleyan Church outside of North America.

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IWU makes waves at town hall meeting

Indiana Wesleyan University hosted a town hall meeting Monday, Oct. 7, in the College Wesleyan Church sanctuary. The meeting consisted mainly of committee updates and an announcement regarding IWU’s first international plant in Australia.

After an opening prayer, Interim Provost Dr. Larry Lindsay took to the stage and hinted at IWU’s Australia plans during his updates of the Academic Affairs Committee. The committee, he said, had a “very healthy discussion” regarding Australia and voiced their support for the plant.

Other members of the board gave updates on their committees, and at the end of the meeting, President David Wright officially broke the news.

President David Wright speaks at the town hall meeting Monday.

President David Wright speaks at the town hall meeting Monday.

The board of trustees gave IWU approval to “move forward” in acquiring the Wesley Institute of Sydney, Australia, as the first international campus of the university.

According to Wright, IWU had been in communication with Wesley Institute for the past 18 months. The small college was “looking for a major Christian partner to become their umbrella so that they could grow to a university status,” he said.

Wright credited Dr. Bridget Aitchison, dean for international programs, for bringing this opportunity to IWU. Aitchison approached the stage and spoke about the college as well as its aspirations to become a university.

“We have a lot of work in front of us,” Wright said. “When we put this opportunity in front of the board, they said this feels like something that God wants us to do with us and in us and through us.”

IWU will spend the next nine months working out the process of partnering with Wesley Institute. IWU will buy the institution for one dollar “because it has to transfer hands.”

Over the next five years, IWU will invest in some of its research and development money. Wright said it will take about $5.7 million to get Wesley Institute into a new location and “help them move from where they are to full university status.”

The results of this partnership will make Wesley Institute the first and only Evangelical Christian university in Australia. It will also be the first Christian university of the Wesleyan Church outside of North America, Wright said.

In addition to Australia, Wright discussed the enrollment differences between this year and last. Overall, IWU experienced a 4 percent decline in enrollment this year.

“We have not turned around the challenge of declining enrollment at Indiana Wesleyan University,” Wright said. “That’s the bad news, but that’s the real news. It would be disingenuous of me to try to tell you or the board any other thing but that.”

Wright explained, however, that certain departments have improved. For example, the School of Nursing experienced a 10 percent growth and the Wesley Seminary experienced a 35 percent growth.

Executive Vice President Dr. Keith Newman at Monday's town hall meeting.

Executive Vice President Dr. Keith Newman at Monday’s town hall meeting.

Executive Vice President Keith Newman announced that US News and World Report ranked IWU as No. 17 in the midwest region, moving up ten spots from last year. He also shared about the Wings & Tots plant and upcoming change to one, unified chapel service.

According to Audrey Hahn, interim vice president and dean for the College of Adult and Professional Studies, IWU “had a great year [this past year] as far as creating new things.”

Hahn explained IWU started eight new programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level. IWU also created six new majors for its Masters in Education.

IWU received permission to expand its education department in Ohio. This means several of the education programs will be offered over there, according to Hahn. IWU is looking at future plans of expanding the education department in Illinois as well.

Also at the meeting, Jay McHenry, assistant vice president of campus planning and construction, displayed pictures of the construction process for the new science and nursing building. He said transition to the new facility will begin during spring break.

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After Sandy: IWU students affected by superstorm

Over the course of two days, Superstorm Sandy managed to kill 119 people in the United States and inflict $50 billion worth of damage, according to The New York Times’ website. Fox News reported more than 7.5 million power outages.

Indiana Wesleyan University student Jade Miller (sr), from Manhattan, N.Y., went four days without any contact with her family because the phone lines were down. “It [was] super nerve-racking, not knowing what’s going on,” she said.

“I was angry for being here,” Miller said. “There’s nothing I can do, and I don’t know if anyone’s safe or what’s going on. Are they hurt? Are they OK? Did they leave? I had no idea. It was unsettling.”

Two days after Sandy hit, Miller finally received word that her family and apartment back home were safe. The General Motors Building where her mother worked, however, had suffered serious damage.

Erika Drake (fr), from Binghamton, N.Y., “got really lucky,” because Sandy had not greatly affected her hometown. Drake said her biggest struggle during the storm was being so distant from her family.

“It’s not fun being [so] far away. You wish you were there,” Drake said. “It gives you this feeling of extreme homesickness because you just want to be there with them. It doesn’t matter if [the situation is] dangerous; you just want to be going through it with them.”

Miller and Drake said during the week of the storm, many Indiana Wesleyan University students from New York met and supported each other through the tough time.

Jenna Ferguson (so), who has family and boyfriend in New York, was also unable to contact them during the storm. Her boyfriend, Joseph Franco, a fireman, is stationed in Long Island to help with cleanup and flood victims.

Miller said one of the priorities now for her family is to keep warm as the first snows have come into the area.

Another major concern, according to Ferguson, is the lack of food. In response to this, free banquets and barbeques are being held for those that need the nutrition.

Franco reported dozens of the million-dollar beach homes along the Long Island shore have been destroyed, and the families are coming back to nothing. Several families had no insurance; the idea of a superstorm destroying their home was nothing they ever considered.

“New York was not prepared for that kind of a situation, and the people don’t know how to handle it,” Miller said.

Drake, whose home was devastated by a flood six years ago, can relate to the victims who were more severely affected by Sandy. She said the best thing to do is remain positive.

“You have to find the blessings of each day,” Drake said. “You need to focus on the blessings in your life and know that there are thousands of others who are going through the same thing you are. You are not alone. The world is watching, and the world is ready to help you.”

Since there is nothing she can physically do to help those in need, Ferguson said just sending prayer and positive thoughts over to the Sandy victims will “play a big role” in the recovery process.

“You just [have] to get through things,” Drake said. “That’s just how it is, and I think that’s an attitude that a lot of New Yorkers have. They’re strong-willed people, and they can move on and get over it.”

During chapel on Friday, Nov. 9, Dr. Jim Lo, dean of the chapel, announced the “Will You Give 10?” offering. This special offering encouraged students to give $10 into the offering plate during chapel the following week. The proceeds will go to the benefit of Superstorm Sandy victims.

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