Letter: Initiatives take aim at opportunity gap

I offer my enthusiastic support of IBJ’s recent editorial [Community needs to act on income inequality problems, March 29], which addresses data released this month by the Brookings Institution about the gap between those who are thriving in central Indiana and those who aren’t. Like IBJ, the Marian University community—board, administration, faculty, staff and students—finds the data disturbing and is taking action.

While Marian advances many initiatives to address this problem, two are most prominent. First, we are dramatically improving the preparation and support for teachers and principals through the Klipsch Educators College, which will do much to better prepare students from all backgrounds for the modern economy. Second, by launching an innovative two-year college this summer, we are increasing access to higher education for those whose options have been previously limited. Saint Joseph’s College of Marian University–Indianapolis will require students to attend classes that are relevant to the professional world two days per week and will engage students for the other three days in promising work opportunities. This will enable them to support themselves, emphasize the relevance of their learning, and allow them to graduate with little-to-no debt.

In connecting employers to talent, Marian will prepare students for employment opportunities that are rapidly changing. Through strategic initiatives, we will add and expand programs in traditional STEM fields, including the health professions. By engaging leaders from companies like Lilly, Ascension, Onebridge and others, our faculty and leadership are developing avenues for underrepresented groups to pursue high-need and high-pay professions. With a traditional, liberal-arts-based curriculum, we will ensure our STEM graduates have the communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills that are of the highest value in the new economy.

I know that central Indiana business leaders care about this community, and I invite them to connect with Marian University, both to work with us to attract more students from diverse backgrounds to higher education and to partner with us in preparing those students for careers in your industries. Together, we are the solution and the path to a thriving social, cultural and economic future.

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Daniel J. Elsener

Marian University president

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