The Herald-Times

Ivy Tech keeps Waldron promises

By Nicole Brooks

H-T Arts Editor

January 30, 2011


Classes start at Ivy Tech tomorrow, and for the first time, two community college credit courses will be offered within the walls of the John Waldron Arts Center.

It’s a sign Ivy Tech has really moved into the historic building, if that green sign on the limestone, facing Walnut Street, hadn’t tipped us off.

Last semester, the community college held one credit class there. This time around, credit ceramics and sculpture classes will meet at the Waldron.

Susie Graham, director of Ivy Tech’s Center for Lifelong Learning, said there will be more credit classes at the Waldron — conceivably the bulk of the school’s art offerings — once Bloomington’s east-west construction (Third Street and so on) is complete. Students need a bit more ease when commuting from the main campus, on the west side of town, to downtown.

Ivy Tech’s art offerings will never entirely be at the Waldron, Graham said. The main campus has more space, including an adjacent garage, for stone carving and the like. Blasting away at hunks of limestone just isn’t an activity suited for the Waldron.

As head of Ivy Tech’s continuing education division (meaning noncredit classes), Graham knows a little something about the fine art of scheduling classrooms. But last semester, dealing with the Waldron for the first time and meeting the needs of noncredit and credit students threw her for a loop.

“You have to be careful to have open studio space, especially for ceramics,” she said. “That was part of our learning curve.”

Noncredit students enrolled in ceramics didn’t get enough studio time, she said, so this semester, open studio time is built into the daily schedule. People must be enrolled in an Ivy Tech class to use the studio.

Graham clearly loves having the credit and noncredit folks mixed together. Watching students’ progress is a joy, she said, and “the instructors have been so patient and understanding and flexible.”

Holding credit classes at the Waldron doesn’t Ivy Tech solve any sprawl problems. There was a time the school wanted to expand its main campus on Daniels Way and consolidate courses to that one spot — but obviously the Waldron deal was too good to pass up.

But the school did trade one spot for another, keeping the number of “off campus” spots constant. Ivy Tech’s lease on the Illinois Central Freight Station building, at Morton and Seventh, was up in July and Ivy Tech didn’t renew. The station had been the primary venue for the Center for Lifelong Learning.

The center, which offers professional development and personal enrichment courses, is cosy inside its new home. The Waldron is also home to Ivy Tech for Kids, a summer camp the school will now run year-round. Last semester, there were 10 sections of classes devoted to kids, and that continues this semester. Two classes have been scheduled to suit the needs of home-schooled children, Graham said.

“Otherwise, we didn’t have those spaces occupied,” the great scheduler said.

All these classes, in conjunction with the Waldron’s art exhibits and performances, are proof the “Ivy Tech Waldron usage (is) primarily arts-focused, as promised” — the headline on a recent Ivy Tech news release.

Contact me at 812-331-4232 or nbrooks@heraldt.com. I’m also on Twitter, at btonscene.

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011