BY ELISABETH ANDREWS, PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHANNON ZAHNLE
The future’s looking bright for Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington. With record-breaking enrollment nearing 7,000 students, a construction project set to add nearly 90,000 square feet to the Connie and Steve Ferguson Academic Building, and a capital campaign dedicated to upgrading classrooms, labs, technology, and student common areas, the college is poised for an era of expansion and innovation under newly appointed Chancellor Jennie Vaughan.
Six months ago, however, the mood on campus was tense and bleak. A surprise announcement from Ivy Tech’s State Board of Trustees in February placed the region under joint administration with Evansville, potentially separating the campus from its leadership by more than 100 miles and leaving the Bloomington administrative team in limbo as they waited to learn who among them might lose their jobs.
How the campus came back from the brink of losing its unique character — through determination, perseverance, and the grace of a second chance — has a number of parallels with the student success stories one frequently hears at Ivy Tech. Paths to achievement aren’t always linear, students and teachers will tell you; they can often involve roadblocks and stretches of uncertainty.
But, if there’s one person who understands how to get past stumbling blocks, it’s Jennie Vaughan. Whether she’s guiding her students or her campus, “I get it, because I’ve been there,” she says. “I know what it’s like to feel paralyzed. And I know that you can get back on track and thrive.”
This is the story of a chancellor, a college, and the challenges both have overcome.