The Ruth Lilly Health Education Center will merge itself into Marian University at the end of the year, vacating its home just north of Indiana University Health’s Methodist Hospital and relocating to Marian’s campus.
The Ruth Lilly center, which provides multimedia programs emphasizing healthy choices, has hosted countless school field trips and more than 2 million visitors since it opened in 1989. But it has struggled financially in recent years, losing money in four out of five years from 2008 to 2012.
In 2012, the most recent year for which the Ruth Lilly center has reported financial information, the center lost nearly $893,000. It watched its endowment funds dwindle from $98,000 at the beginning of 2008 to nearly nothing in 2012, when it was able to raise an additional $23,500.
Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment is giving $942,150 to help Marian and the Ruth Lilly center merge. The center will operate as part of Marian's School of Education and Exercise Science.
But Marian President Dan Elsener, in a press statement, stressed that additional funding will be needed to keep the center going. Marian intends to continue employing the two health educators and two office staff members that work for the Ruth Lilly center.
The Ruth Lilly center owns the nearly 22,000-square-foot building it occupies at 2055 N. Senate Ave. On a cost basis, the center calculated the value of the building at $2.7 million, according to its 2012 financial report to the Internal Revenue Service.
The Ruth Lilly center pays a nominal lease fee to Indiana University Health, which owns the land on which the building is located. Linda Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Ruth Lilly center, wrote in an e-mail that IU Health would assume responsibility for the building after the center vacates it.
The Ruth Lilly center also has equipment that cost nearly $3.9 million, which it uses in its health education courses.
Once the center relocates to Marian’s northwest-side campus, it will focus on providing health education programs in schools’ classrooms, rather than hosting students at its own facility.
“Fewer schools can afford the time and costs associated with field trips,” Joyce Hertko, president of the Ruth Lilly Center, said in a prepared statement. “But the demand for health education remains high, and it’s increasingly important that we meet that demand. By altering the delivery model to offer programming entirely in the classroom, we will be able to continue providing health education services to the young people in our community.”