University to invest $1.75 million in selected programs

April 26, 2007

Indiana State University will invest $1.75 million over the next three years in selected academic programs as part of its Distinctive Programs Initiative, President Lloyd W. Benjamin III announced today (April 26).

Benjamin said the President’s Fund for Academic Excellence will use a $1 million grant received earlier as part of the Lilly Endowment’s “Initiative to Recruit and Retain Intellectual Capital for Indiana Higher Education Institutions,” along with $750,000 in one-time university funds. The fund will be used to strengthen programs with national or regional reputations for quality, and build programs that have the potential to achieve that status.

“While we are working to selectively reduce low-enrollment programs, we also want to make strategic investments in our centers of excellence and in building new programs of distinction,” Benjamin said.

Two of Indiana State’s programs - financial services and teacher education - have been recognized as Programs of National Distinction for achieving a national reputation for the quality of their work and reflecting the values of Indiana State while meeting state and national needs. The two programs will receive $350,000 each.

The recognition of distinctive programs is directed internally and externally, and serves a twofold purpose, according to Benjamin. Internally, it fosters appreciation for the quality of the university's academic programs and accomplishments of faculty, students and alumni; and encourages and supports programs in their achievement of excellence. Externally, it broadcasts the pride the university feels to external stakeholders, promotes public awareness of specific outstanding accomplishments and invites investment in the institution.

“All will benefit by the increased visibility and recognition that distinctive programs will bring to Indiana State University,” he said. “Faculty in programs of distinction are expected to mentor and share their experiences with others at ISU and to be visible and involved externally, including seeking external funds. This is a capacity-building initiative that should promote collaboration far and wide.”

Both of the programs selected for the top level of support already have earned national reputations as leaders in their disciplines. The financial services program encompasses several areas including:

  • The university’s nationally recognized insurance and risk management program.
  • The Networks Financial Institute, funded by a Lilly Endowment gift of $20 million, which provides education, outreach and research for the financial services industry.
  • The Gongaware Center, created by a $5 million gift from Don and Pat Gongaware, to support executive development, student development and industry research in insurance and risk management.
  • The new Minas Center for Investment and Financial Education supported by an endowment from Randy and Nancy Minas to enhance the quality of investment and financial education programs.

“We have put forth much effort into offering the best financial services education possible throughout the state of Indiana and nationally. We strive to have the best graduates, not only through our nationally recognized insurance and risk management program; but also through our other quality, financial services-related areas, such as accounting, finance, marketing and others,” said Ron Green, dean of the College of Business.

Beginning this fall, the College of Business will offer a new major and minor in financial services. With a financial services degree, students will be able to complete an overview of financial services with specific coursework in the areas of banking, investments, and insurance with an overall focus on ethical decision making. Students in the major also will be able to declare a concentration in one of four areas, including accounting, banking, insurance and investments.

Indiana’s teacher education program also has received national recognition on many levels, including:

  • Initial recipient of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Christa McAuliffe Award for its Professional Development Schools Partnership.
  • Selection to an elite group of 30 programs in the nation to be invited to join the "Learning Network" of the Carnegie Corporations' Teachers for a New Era (TNE) Initiative.
  • Recognition by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future by selecting ISU’s teacher education program to be part of the Leadership Consortium on High Quality Teacher Preparation.
  • Millions of dollars in grant and research funding received from national sources over the past few years, the most recent of which was a $3.9 million Title II Teacher Quality Enhancement Partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

“As a result of this honor, students in the program have another affirmation of the value of a teaching credential from Indiana State,” said Brad Balch, dean of ISU’s College of Education. “It further enhances our ability to recruit the best and the brightest future teachers, and positions us as a model program, making us even more competitive in seeking external funding at the national level.”

Balch says this award not only recognizes the work of ISU’s students, colleagues and partners but also the College’s commitment to “remaining among the premiere teacher education programs in the nation.”

The Distinctive Programs initiative also provides recognition and funding to eight Regional and State Distinctive Programs and seven Programs of Promise. The programs selected for this recognition cluster around four major areas which are linked to Indiana State’s history and to its future, said C. Jack Maynard, provost and vice president for academic affairs. The four areas are: enhancing student success, education and human development, health and human services, and leadership in business and technology.

The Regional/State Distinctive Programs include:

  • Aerospace technology
  • Blumberg Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Special Education
  • Doctor of psychology program
  • Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality
  • Criminology
  • First-year programs
  • Music business
  • Ph.D. in technology management

The Programs of Promise are:

  • Athletic training clinical program
  • Center for Local History and Culture
  • Health sciences
  • International Affairs
  • Motorsports studies
  • Student Affairs and higher education
  • University Honors program

A total of $1,090,000 will be invested in these programs, with Regional/State Distinctive Programs receiving approximately $50,000 each, while the investments in Programs of Promise will range from $50,000 to $200,000.

Contact: C. Jack Maynard, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Indiana State University, 812-237-2309 or

Writers: Maria Greninger, associate director of communications and marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-4357 or ; Teresa Exline, university spokesperson, Indiana State University, 812-237-7783 or example@isugw.indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Indiana State University will invest $1.75 million over the next three years in selected academic programs as part of its Distinctive Programs Initiative, President Lloyd W. Benjamin III announced. The President's Fund for Academic Excellence will strengthen programs with national or regional reputations for quality (Programs of Distinction) and build programs that have the potential to achieve that status (Programs of Promise).

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