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The story is an old one, repeated by many people. Years ago when most states were developing comprehensive community college systems, Indiana and Purdue universities utilized their considerable clout to steer the Hoosier state toward the direction of regional campuses.

The IU entities in Richmond, Kokomo, New Albany and elsewhere undoubtedly brought increased educational opportunities to those areas. The same with Purdue’s outreaches in Westville, Hammond and beyond. Meanwhile, Ivy Tech State College fulfilled its vocational training role.

Flash forward to this decade, a changing economy with different workforce needs and a still ongoing transformation to Ivy Tech Community College. But as the two-year campuses evolved, they found themselves in competition with the regional entities. Similar programs. Similar degrees.

As Nasser Paydar, Indiana University East chancellor, says in our current BizVoice: "We used to have an associate degree in nursing. Ivy Tech has an associate degree in nursing. What this did was confuse the students in the first place. Why would two state institutions within walking distance have the same degree program, accredited by the same agency?

Good question. It’s not that way in Richmond anymore. Missions have been differentiated and employer needs met more effectively in Columbus. Those efforts are highlighted in an in-depth BizVoice article. And it’s promising to see new regional initiatives announced by both Indiana and Purdue earlier this month.

Indiana has outstanding colleges and universities. The goal of all is to have an equally outstanding system that fully serves all students. Chamber education expert Derek Redelman discussed the importance in this two-minute video previewing the BizVoice examination.

As the higher education discussion continues, we’re proud to have the presidents of some of Indiana’s leading public institutions offer their insights this week. We’ll have a couple of guest blogs each day (sign up under Feeds in the upper right corner to receive e-mail updates of new postings) and encourage you to read, learn and comment. Thanks for helping to Build a Better Indiana.

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