IU Southeast State of the Campus Address

Chancellor Ray Wallace says campus is “very solid,” but sees room for growth


Aprile Rickert, Editor-in-chief

When IU Southeast Chancellor Ray Wallace delivered his first ever State of the Campus Address to his new campus community last Thursday, Sept. 11, he began by focusing on the strengths of the regional school—a place he said is beautiful, safe and modern, with dedicated faculty and staff, open and communicative leadership and a large number of graduates who find success in the surrounding communities and beyond.

He said although the campus is “very solid,” it must strive to improve in areas such as enrollment, retention and six-year graduation rates and be prepared to adapt to remain an institution which serves its communities well. He offered his vision, one which is growing and has had the benefit of much input from campus leaders, for IU Southeast over the next 10- to 15 years.

“We are located in a part of the state which is growing, where people want to move to or to be near,” he said in his speech. “I genuinely feel that IU Southeast is poised to be an even bigger presence in our area and I can already see many ways in which we can grow and prosper.”

He said this means thinking beyond the traditional framework of higher education to offer students the kind of education they need and want, delivered in ways that are accessible and meaningful. This includes incorporating more online and hybrid options into programs, though he stressed that this type of learning does not work equally across all disciplines.

“We will need to understand soon that more and more of our students do not want, nor will not sit still long enough, to come to class to view the ‘sage on the stage,’ he said. “We will have many students who will want that approach, but many of our millennials, and whatever comes after that, will not want to learn this way. Technology and social media outlets have changed higher education for good and we had better move more in that direction.”

Wallace talked of the need to increase enrollment, both by retaining current students and leading them to completion, and by attracting more high school students who are eligible to take college courses, Kentucky residents and working adults who may have the need for nontraditional schedules.

He said he is also working on plans to initiate off-campus “learning centers,” which would help bring the classroom to students who may not be able to have a traditional schedule at IU Southeast due to distance, time conflicts or other factors.

“It can be a physical thing—frankly it could also be an electronic classroom in which we are broadcasting a class from here to there,” He said in an interview. “I’m going to meet with all of the counties we serve and talk to them about ‘how would you like us to better serve your needs?’”

Wallace said it is important for IU Southeast to step into a greater role in the surrounding communities than it already is. This includes strengthening partnerships with local high schools, two-year institutions such as Ivy Tech and economically impactful employers, such as UPS, Ford and River Ridge, he said.

“We  must be seen as the economic development engine in this area,” Wallace said. “We must be seen as the institution to provide the next generation of mid-level and higher employees.”

Channell Barbour, associate director for Student Life, said she supports Wallace’s vision and looks forward to seeing his plans realized.

“This is exactly what we need,” she said, “a leader here to push IU Southeast past the future.”

She said she agrees with Wallace’s view that campus leaders must be forward-thinking when it comes to the future of the campus.

“If we want to compete and stay in the game here with education, then we’ve gotta get on board and we’ve gotta move forward. He was right on the mark.”

Rebecca Barnwell, manager of special events and projects in the Office of the Chancellor, said although she has only worked with Wallace for several months, she is impressed with his drive to help the campus grow.

He’s not afraid to change things and move forward in a really positive way,” she said.  “I’m just really excited. I think he’s going to be very successful at what he wants to do.”

At the end of the day, although new in his role as chancellor, Wallace said he is quite confident that he is exactly where he wants to be, and welcomes the challenges that come with leading the campus into the future.

“This is the crowning achievement in my career,” he said.  “This is the right sort of school, it’s the right sort of students, it’s a great community. This is a no brainer. This is a great place to be.”