A member of the search committee who helped select Sue Ellspermann as the next president of Ivy Tech Community College says the former lieutenant governor will be charged with taking on "the next key item" for the state. Indianapolis-based Thompson Distribution Co. Inc. Chief Executive Officer John Thompson believes Ellspermann has the skills to "get it done" when it comes to narrowing the skills gap. From the beginning, Ellspermann has cited the opportunity to address work force challenges as a primary reason for her interest.

She stepped down in March to pursue the position. Ellspermann will begin in her new role in July.

The Ivy Tech job is not Ellspermann’s first leadership role in higher education. She spent six years as the director of the University of Southern Indiana’s Center for Applied Research. She served as an Indiana State Representative for two years before becoming Indiana’s 50th lieutenant governor in January 2013. In that role, she oversaw offices including the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. She is also a leadership fellow at the Hunt-Kean Institute, a nonpartisan education advocacy organization.

Ellspermann succeeds Tom Snyder, who announced his retirement in September. The news came a week after President Barack Obama named him to the College Promise Advisory Board. Snyder led Ivy Tech since 2007.

Ellspermann takes the helm at a time that Ivy Tech is under the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s microscope. Last year, the Indiana General Assembly tasked the commission to review Ivy Tech programs with low graduation rates. The agency made seven recommendations aimed at strengthening the school’s support services ensuring its degrees and certificates lead to employment.

The recommendations include:

–Discontinue, develop improvement plans, or provide justification for programs that fail to meet benchmarks.
–Provide predictable schedules and structured pathways for students.
–Target student interventions and advising to ensure completion.
–Smooth the transition from Ivy Tech to four-year colleges.
–Improve Ivy Tech’s data system capabilities.
–Better reflect Ivy Tech’s diverse mission in public reporting and performance funding.
–Perform annual program evaluations based on benchmarks for student demand, labor market demand, and effectiveness as measured by program completion.

Ellspermann will be a guest this weekend on Inside INdiana Business Television.

Ellspermann says Ivy Tech is Indiana’s “biggest machine” for work force development.

Thompson says Indiana has an “urgent need” for a skilled work force.