July 25, 2011
Univ. of Indianapolis, A Civic Asset

One of the five colleges and universities in the Indianapolis area, this private institution of higher learning provides a number of cultural and educational opportunities for the city.

President Beverley Pitts and the Mayors

President Beverley J. Pitts and the Panel of Mayors

Announcing a New Institute

In March 2011 the University of Indianapolis hosted a unique event – former and current Indianapolis mayors joined together for a panel on the city’s progress and prospects. Cosponsored with the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and Star Media, “Five Mayors: An Evening of Insight & Vision,”  made for a great start to an ambitious initiative. All five – Richard G. Lugar, William H. Hudnut, Stephen Goldsmith, Bart Peterson and current mayor Greg Ballard – have ties to the university. All four former mayors have ties to the university. Peterson is a current trustee, and the others have served on the board.

At this historic event, UIndy President Beverley J. Pitts announced the founding of the Institute for Civic Leadership & Mayoral Archives, which will have a home in Krannert Memorial Library following a campaign to raise $7.5 million. Indianapolis is often the focus of study for other metropolitan planners due to its innovative history with Unigov and its successful campaign to revitalize the downtown area. The four former mayors have agreed to donate artifacts and papers from their terms in office, which will be cataloged, preserved and made available for review in the new Institute’s archives. The Institute will also continue to host live programs and civic discussion.

Majoring in Experience

An Experience Design Student

More than a decade into the 21st century, we’re seeing new entries in the list of liberal arts majors at our colleges and universities. UIndy has one that deserves mention: Experience Design, an interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Started by history professor Samantha Meigs, Experience Design (XD) students learn to create interactive and multisensory experiences for visitors to events and exhibitions. In addition to a major, options include minors and concentrations for students majoring in art, theater, history, education or public relations.

The XD program seeks to provide “a rigorous, relevant curriculum for tomorrow’s creative thinkers” in fields such as for-profit and non-profit project management, museums, marketing, virtual environments and game design. How about a summer class in “Victoriana and Steampunk” or this fall’s offering, “Heroes and Villains”? The training offered by UIndy sounds like fun for its students, but know-how in producing fun and learning for audiences is the real objective of this new economy program.

An Arts and Culture Destination

Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center

UIndy takes its role as a cultural center for Indianapolis seriously and wants the public to know it. The university’s home page has a very user-friendly tab at the top labeled “Arts,” a convenient and attractive gateway to the many on-campus offerings in the arts, music, theater and literature.

The Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center and Esch Hall theater spaces provide a variety of venues for performance and art exhibitions.  The former boasts an Art Gallery that hosts six or seven exhibitions per year. The campus also has two permanent attractions, the Fifth Third Bank Campus Sculpture Walk and the Au Ho-nien Museum.

UIndy music includes a Faculty Artist Concert Series, Jazz at UIndy, other guest and student concerts, and a Community Music Center with public programs and music training – all in addition to the university’s formal Music Department and degrees in Music Performance, Music Education and Music Technology and Recording. The Theatre Department also takes advantage of student talent to offer several productions during the academic year.

Finally, distinguished authors and speakers visit the campus through programs such as the Allen & Helen Kellogg Writers Series. Among the Kellogg writers who appeared last year were humorist and author Michael Perry, poet Terrance Hayes and fiction writer Lee Martin. Learn about these programs and get the latest on all of the above opportunities for the coming year by signing up for UIndy’s email list on the Arts home page.

Indiana Humanities has special ties to the University of Indianapolis, as it does with many other Indiana institutions. President Beverley J. Pitts served as Chair of Indiana Humanities in the mid-1980s and was instrumental in the organization’s purchase of the Meredith Nicholson House; she has just agreed to come back for another term on the Board. A number of faculty members have been project directors and received grants from Indiana Humanities. History professors Jim Fuller and Ted Frantz have worked with us and were presenters at a 2009 Indiana Humanities teachers workshop.

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