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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Walt Branson, left, vice chancellor for financial affairs, presents newly appointed IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein with IPFW memorabilia Tuesday afternoon “making her a Mastodon.”

Welcome, Chancellor Carwein

IPFW’s ninth chancellor is a native Hoosier with many years of experience in running satellite campuses of major universities.

Vicky Carwein’s background should serve her well as she navigates the political difficulties of running a local campus for two separate – and competing – universities.

Carwein was born in the tiny community of Gwynnville, between Indianapolis and Rushville, and has a doctorate in nursing from Indiana University. For the past six years, she has been chancellor of Washington State University’s Tri-Cities campus. There, she guided the campus’ expansion to a four-year university and led the efforts to recruit – and raise scholarship money for – its first freshman class.

“Vicky has maneuvered WSU Tri-Cities through amazing growth and culture change during an era of significant budget cuts,” Mike Kluse, chairman of WSU Tri-Cities’ Advisory Council and director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, told the Tri-City Herald. “She has built a strong leadership team … implemented creative partnerships and built passionate community support for higher education.”

Under her leadership, the Washington State campus opened the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory, which conducts research to develop and commercialize bioproducts and bioenergy with a goal of helping to replace fossil fuels with green energy.

Her résumé also includes a 10-year stint as chancellor of the University of Washington’s Tacoma campus, where she was credited with developing solid relationships with the private sector.

Indeed, that experience was a factor in her selection, said Carol Sternberger, IPFW’s vice chancellor for academics and chairwoman of the search committee. “She’s a great relationship builder and she sort of thinks outside the box with those relationships,” Sternberger said.

Such relations are not just an opportunity for IPFW but are vital for its success and growth. Building and maintaining relationships with Ivy Tech, the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, hospitals, businesses, alumni, benefactors and others are crucial.

Carwein faces challenges as she transitions into the job. Today’s economy, unprecedented competition from local private colleges, the tendency for tuition nationwide to grow at a rate higher than inflation plus tight state budgets all place pressure on IPFW.

And expectations will be high because she replaces Michael Wartell, the 19-year IPFW veteran who oversaw great progress, including IPFW’s transition from a commuter college to a full-fledged university campus, complete with residence halls.

Search committee members were well aware of the expectations. “We felt that she could keep our momentum going,” Sternberger said.

No stranger to university politics and expectations, Carwein is also well aware of IPFW’s significant growth. Members of the search committee, she said in a news release, “were very inspiring in passing along the commitment of the campus and the community in building on the successes that IPFW has experienced in its past, and I am very excited to be a part of its future.”

Carwein takes office Sept. 1. Northeast Indiana and the campus community should give her a warm welcome as she strives to meet the high expectations she faces.