Marian's New, Two-Year College Has Ambitious Vision

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(Image courtesy of Marian University.) (Image courtesy of Marian University.)

As Marian University launches a two-year college near its Indianapolis campus, President Dan Elsener says he can already envision the model spreading outside of central Indiana. "Our long-term plan is to have a network of these schools in rural areas and other places around Indiana where the need is great and we're invited to bring this successful model to others," Elsener told Inside INdiana Business. Classes are set to begin in a year at the yet-to-be-named college.

In an interview following Wednesday morning's announcement, Elsener said the new college is a response to unmet needs and a goal to double enrollment at the 81-year-old institution. "Schools and healthcare and businesses are calling us for more graduates and we looked at the biggest leak in the pipeline to get more graduates, more talent," he said. "The need is in central Indiana for wages to increase, poverty to be reduced, to create greater social cohesion, advance our economy, attract new businesses. You have to have talent." The new school, Elsener says, offers a way to answer those needs. "The need is outside. It's our response to the need that I think is the big news here and we're going to be very good at this.

The first year goal is for enrollment of 75-125 students in Indianapolis. Beyond the launch, Elsener is bullish on the prospects of additional Indiana campuses. "What you have to do is make sure there's employers and folks that need and want this option," he said. "Marian University has never run into an area and said 'you need this, here we are.' We usually get invited and feel like we can make a difference and the elements are in place from our end and their end."

Marian has not yet determined which communities outside of Indianapolis would be ideal for any additional branches of the network. When asked about how existing partner, St. Joseph's College -- which suspended operations more than a year ago due to mounting financial burdens -- could fit into the picture of the statewide vision, Elsener said it could "no doubt" have potential. "We've had very fruitful discussions with them about what they might contribute and collaborate to this idea and they are very interested. We're working through some details to see where that might go, but now all signs are positive," he added. "This model could play out in other places where they have their operation (Rensselaer) or others. But, you know, time will tell. Prudence, discussion, research, feasibility studies will all have to take place, but, yes, we like those folks (at St. Joe's) and we could collaborate and they could contribute to the success of this."

More than 40 transfer students from St. Joe recently completed their degrees at Marian and the Indianapolis school recently announced its largest-ever incoming class. The new college, Marian says, will be located at the former temporary site of Riverside High School on West 30th Street and feature associates degrees in liberal arts, information technology and business. You can connect to more about the new college by clicking here.

In an interview following Wednesday morning's announcement, Marian University President Dan Elsener said the new college is a response to unmet needs and a goal to double enrollment at the 81-year-old institution.
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