An athletics complex and much more!
By THOMAS L. KEON
The response generated by Monday’s (12/9) groundbreaking of our outdoor athletics complex at nearby Dowling Park suggests that another important piece is being positioned for connection in the transition of our advancing university.
Since my arrival here, I have touted the value of a thriving, intercollegiate athletics program at Purdue Calumet, and we are well on our way! With Faculty Senate support, we have expanded to 12 sports teams and are considering application into Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). At the University of Central Florida, where I previously served, I witnessed firsthand how a growing, successful sports program can stimulate campus and community pride.
Degree-persisting student athletes
A flourishing athletics program also can drive value as an effective enrollment management strategy for attracting full time, degree-persistent students. As members of our 12 sports teams, some 200 student athletes are enrolled at Purdue Calumet. Absent of the opportunity to continue their sports careers on our campus, those 200 student athletes would be enrolled elsewhere.
What’s more, our student athletes have come to Purdue Calumet from locations within our region as well as from across our state, nation and world. They carry full time course loads. They have achieved a collective grade point average that exceeds 3.0. They are making satisfactory degree progress in wide-ranging academic fields, and the tuition they pay generates more revenue than the cost of administering our athletics program.
Innovative partnership with City of Hammond
But there are other benefits our athletics program has triggered. Soccer, baseball and softball fields within the Purdue University Calumet Athletics Complex will be ready for use next fall, thanks to an innovative, multi-faceted partnership the university and City of Hammond have established along with corporate partners that goes well beyond athletics.
Working, planning, strategizing and, yes, even dreaming a bit with Hammond Mayor and Purdue Calumet alumnus Thomas M. McDermott, Jr., I share his excitement of what can be achieved when “town and gown” work together.
Investing in economic development, culture
As previously reported, the city is taking a leadership role financing the athletics complex at Dowling Park, which will be available both to Purdue Calumet and the City. We are investing our university partnership support to drive mutually beneficial economic development opportunities through emerging commercialization and manufacturing centers.
Additionally, we are collaborating with the downtown Towle Theater to enable wide-reaching cultural opportunities that benefit Hammond, Purdue Calumet, students and residents alike.
Other noteworthy pieces
Beyond such a partnership that enriches athletics, economic development and culture, we have made substantial progress this fall effectively rolling out an ambitious, strategic enrollment management and marketing plan.
What’s more, in the days to come, we are hopeful of hitting a couple academic bulls’ eyes:
- Board of Trustees approval to advance the status of our Honors Program to Honors College and
- State approval to introduce a precedent-setting doctoral program in nursing.
Though diverse and distinct, all these pieces, when connected, will elevate Purdue Calumet’s role and influence in northwest Indiana.
Thomas L. Keon