December 6, 2022

Purdue Global, Ivy Tech continue to collaborate, explore ways to prepare workforce for tomorrow’s economy

INDIANAPOLIS – For Frank Dooley and Sue Ellspermann, the fact that 1.9 million employed Hoosiers lack some type of credential or college degree isn’t a reason for despair. Instead, they see opportunities abound to help increase workers’ mobility, skills and financial standing across Indiana through education.

More than 100 leaders from Purdue Global, Ivy Tech Community College, and state and local workforce and economic development groups came together on Nov. 9 to celebrate and expand those opportunities.

dooley-ellspermann Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann with Purdue Global Chancellor Frank Dooley. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image

Dooley, Purdue Global chancellor, and Ellspermann, Ivy Tech president, celebrated the successful partnership between the two Indiana-based schools.

“The summit shined a light on the unique opportunities we have to impact the lives of adults, employers, the labor market and our communities by leveraging two amazing institutions,” Ellspermann said. “We have a shared commitment to career pathways for adult students that lead to high-wage, high-demand careers that skill and reskill our workforce.”

Citing numerous examples of the partnership, Dooley said both institutions are leveraging their resources for working adult learners, including recognition for prior learning and more pathways for credentials and degrees.

“Purdue Global is part of Purdue’s land-grant mission. The essence of it is we’re providing opportunity. We need to think broadly of our mission of public service to our communities,” Dooley said. “We are always looking to expand access to education and help more students be successful in their career paths.”

It’s especially important as Indiana competes for new jobs in fields like electric vehicle components, semiconductors and defense-related industries, or as traditional Hoosier economic strengths, like agriculture and manufacturing, see increasing technological advancement. One example of a semiconductor company locating in Indiana is SkyWater Technology, which announced in July that it would build a new $1.8 billion semiconductor fabrication facility in Discovery Park District at Purdue, creating 750 new jobs.

Purdue Global and Ivy Tech have several agreements in place to transfer students and their course credits seamlessly between the two institutions. A student earning an associate degree from Ivy Tech, which is the state’s main provider of those degrees, can then seamlessly apply their credits at Purdue Global to progress toward a bachelor’s degree.

The close partnership between the institutions is leading the nation in best practices related to the exchange and acceptance of educational credit and credit for prior learning.

Talent development: the new frontier

Summit attendees learned more about what is going on in the areas of workforce development and economic development. A panel discussion, “The Indiana Workforce Landscape,” was facilitated by Chris Lowery, commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Lowery shared that policies, programs and partnerships are all key in expanding educational opportunities to Indiana residents “at the speed of business,” especially for the 1.9 million working Hoosiers who want to pursue credentials and degrees.

Panelists included Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce; Marie Mackintosh, president and CEO of EmployIndy; David Adams, commissioner of Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development; and Tony Denhart, executive vice president of workforce and talent at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

Numerous reports have been issued by groups such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Ascend Indiana and EmployIndy on talent-development needs from various stakeholders and industries so employers, employees and educators are prepared for changes in the economy. Both economic and talent development have added a new component, as Indiana state officials include education opportunities and partnerships as part of the portfolio to attract new employers to Indiana.

pg-ivysummit Chris Lowery, commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, moderates a panel during the Purdue Global/Ivy Tech summit on Nov. 9. Pictured from left to right are Lowery; Tony Denhart, executive vice president of workforce and talent at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation; David Adams, commissioner of Indiana Workforce Development; Marie Mackintosh, president and CEO of EmployIndy; and Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image

Denhart, who moderated the panel discussion “Our Role in Helping Shape the Future of Indiana,” said the IEDC is focused on quality of jobs over quantity of jobs, as well as looking to diversify jobs across the state.

In addition to those partnerships, Denhart said the IEDC focuses on the “5Es” when talking with employers who are looking to expand or locate in Indiana: environment/quality of place, economy of the future, entrepreneurship, energy, and external engagement.

“For the economy of the future, we are looking at the workplace and what the workers of the future will need,” said Denhart. “We’re looking 10 and 20 years ahead. We are looking at life sciences, quantum computing, aerospace, defense, advanced manufacturing, agriculture and artificial intelligence/machine learning. Relationships matter in both economic development and talent development.”

Purdue Global and Ivy Tech are continually working together to be more responsive to the rapidly changing needs in the workforce that Denhart and others talked about during the panel discussions.

Those activities range from new classes to working with employers in providing affordable education opportunities to providing additional resources for working adult learners.

Purdue Global is rebuilding its teaching model to provide more support for student success, including adding coaching and mentoring for students.

Tiffany Townsend, vice president of organizational culture and chief diversity officer at Purdue Global, and Amber Williams, executive director for employee diversity, equity and belonging at Ivy Tech, presented “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Belonging: Building a Foundational Approach to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Together.” They explored how Purdue Global and Ivy Tech both make students of all backgrounds feel like they belong. Responses were gathered and will be used to build plans that will be shared with faculty and staff in the future.

“If we start with the end in mind – thinking of the students and how they get their degrees – it affects how we approach our work together,” Dooley said.

Ivy Tech is expanding its associate degree nursing program, addressing the shortage of health care workers across the state. To expand, they have worked with providers to have additional clinical sites to manage the increased enrollment.

“Working adult learners come to Ivy Tech and Purdue Global to find a better path forward, more prosperity and/or more fulfillment in their careers. These are our ‘traditional’ students, and we are committed to meeting them where they are and helping them succeed,” Ellspermann said.

Both institutions teach at scale – Purdue Global by providing courses to more than 35,000 students, and Ivy Tech by teaching at 46 locations across Indiana. 

“We’ve got to be responsive to opportunities that come forward to us,” Dooley said. “If we – both Purdue Global and Ivy Tech – become aware of the need, we can adapt our programs and pathways to career quicker than others.”

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, short-term certificate programs, industry certifications and training that aligns to the needs of the community. The College provides seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor’s degree. Follow Ivy Tech on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for the most up-to-date information. 

About Purdue Global

Purdue Global delivers personalized online education tailored to the unique needs of adults who have work or life experience beyond the classroom, enabling them to develop essential academic and professional skills with the support and flexibility they need to achieve their career goals. It offers personalized paths for students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, based on their work experience, desired pace, military service, previous college credits and other considerations – no matter where they are in their life journey. Purdue Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with Purdue University’s flagship institution, a highly ranked public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue University also operates regional campuses in Fort Wayne and Northwest Indiana, as well as serving science, engineering and technology students at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus. For more information, visit

Writer/Media contact: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell);; @mo_oates 

Sources: Beth Gillon

Russ Baker

Tony Denhart

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Video: Purdue’s founding mission: To provide opportunity for all

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