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Last modified: Thursday, December 16, 2010

IU forms partnership to open art and design center in downtown Columbus

Dec. 17, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ind. -- Indiana University has formed a partnership with the Community Education Coalition of Columbus to establish a center in downtown Columbus that will specialize in teaching art and design.

The partnership to create the Indiana University Center for Art and Design-Columbus (IUCAD) was announced this morning (Dec. 17) by IU President Michael A. McRobbie and Columbus community leaders at the YES Cinema and Conference Center.


Courtesy of Columbus Area Visitors Center

Print-Quality Photo

The center, which is expected to be operating by the start of the 2011-12 academic year, will offer selected upper-level courses for degree-seeking students in such fields as graphics design, interior design and fashion design. The courses, which are all currently offered at IU Bloomington in existing degree programs, will also be available on a non-credit basis to Columbus area residents and employees of area businesses seeking to sharpen their skills.

McRobbie said that by locating the center in Columbus, IU will be able to take advantage of some of the city's special assets, including its unique architectural traditions, a strong commitment to the arts and the presence of the non-profit Community Education Coalition (CEC), which works to expand educational opportunities by integrating business and corporate resources with traditional public sector assets.

McRobbie noted that Columbus has several buildings and interiors created by some of the world's most renowned architects and designers. In 1991, Columbus was ranked the 6th most significant city architecturally in the United States in a nationwide poll of members of the American Institute of Architecture.

"The city's unique architectural heritage makes it the ideal location for what we envision as a living laboratory for art and design," McRobbie said.

IU's College of Arts and Sciences in Bloomington will provide faculty members from the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design. The College will also administer the course programs, while the CEC will provide a dedicated facility in the former Commons Mall at 3rd and Jackson streets downtown.

"This undertaking is a response to a strong community desire to establish a first-rate arts and design center that would attract promising students from all across the state," McRobbie said. "Columbus has resources that perfectly complement our faculty expertise, enabling us to provide high-quality courses in a rich setting of architectural design excellence."

McRobbie noted that during the past half century, Columbus emerged as a regional cultural center known for architectural innovation and a commitment to the arts, thanks in part to the efforts of the late J. Irwin Miller, a Columbus community leader and long-time chairman of Cummins Engine Co.

"This is a great opportunity to enhance the educational offerings and cultural life of Columbus by creating a partnership with a world-class university in a field where Columbus already has considerable assets," said Will Miller, chairman of Irwin Management Co. and a board member of the Community Education Coalition.

"The center also represents an opportunity to implement one of the key elements of the Vision 20-20 plan for the revitalization of downtown Columbus, providing unique educational offerings that will encourage economic opportunities for downtown businesses as they provide services for students and visitors of the center," Miller added.

Plans for the IU Center for Art and Design-Columbus call for the hiring of resident faculty and staff to conduct programs within the center. Initially, students from IU's Bloomington campus will travel to Columbus for specific courses developed to enhance existing IU Bloomington curricula, while local and regional community members will be encouraged to participate in credit and non-credit courses. Additionally, the center plans to offer specialized certificate programs focusing on the art and design of Columbus.

Organizers said they have a long-term vision to create a nationally and internationally recognized program capable of attracting top students and combining the strengths of IU and the Columbus community.

"Indiana University, through its College of Arts and Sciences, is delighted to partner with the Columbus community in the establishment of the Indiana University Center for Art and Design-Columbus," said David Zaret, interim dean of IU's College of Arts and Sciences.

Kate Rowold, professor and interim chair of the IU Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, added, "Our faculty members are excited about the many education program possibilities that will be afforded our students, the residents of Columbus, the region and those who travel to Columbus from around the world. We look forward to the opening of the center."

As it plans its academic programming, the new center will utilize a popular business tool known as "design thinking." Design thinking relates to an integrative, creative and collaborative approach to problem-solving and innovation, and in recent years it has been adopted by such major corporations as General Electric and Procter & Gamble.

In following this model, the new center will seek to integrate elements of interior design, architecture, industrial design, art and fashion. Additionally, it will explore the use of Columbus' architecture, art, parks and public spaces as working environments that augment and complement IU Bloomington degree programs.

"The use of 'design thinking' is at the core of how companies create innovative products and solutions for their customers," said Jack Hess, president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the CEC committee working with IU on planning the new center. "In addition to the IUCAD-Columbus being an exciting opportunity for students and community members for classes using design thinking, the business community will be afforded many great opportunities to use the center as well."

Plans call for the IUCAD-Columbus to begin within the "Sears Block" of the former Commons Mall, located on the northwest corner of 3rd and Jackson streets. The center will be housed in approximately 7,000 square feet and have access to the YES Cinema and Conference Center for lecture and event space. It will also accommodate design studios, a gallery for art and design exhibitions, model workrooms, faculty and administration offices, and technology support labs.

"The idea of an art and design education center has been discussed for many years," said CEC Chief Executive Officer John Burnett. "Like so many other projects in our community, the creation of the IUCAD-Columbus is one of collaboration. Indiana University's announcement today is a result of many people and organizations coming together to serve students, businesses and the community. We thank Indiana University, Irwin Sweeney Miller Foundation, Heritage Fund-the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, Cummins Foundation, Arvin Gift Fund, Johnson Ventures, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and the Columbus community for helping make this idea become a reality."

About Community Education Coalition of Columbus, Ind.:

The Community Education Coalition (CEC) of Columbus, Ind., was founded in 1997 and is a nationally recognized not-for-profit organization that brings together education, business and community stakeholders to align and integrate the community learning system. Specifically, CEC works to promote the efficient and successful integration of education, economic vitality and quality of life programming. The CEC and its partners have fostered the development of innovative initiatives targeted toward alignment of the learning system including the Columbus Learning Center, a 130,000-square-foot educational facility that provides shared classroom, lab and library space to Ivy Tech Community College, Purdue College of Technology, Indiana University Purdue University Columbus, WorkOne and related high school programs. More recently, the CEC, in partnership with the Heritage Fund, the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, developed the EcO15 (Economic Opportunities through Education initiative), funded by a $38 million grant by Lilly Endowment Inc. to support education pathway development in 10 southeast Indiana counties.