Upcoming construction at IUPUI will strengthen ties to community, renovate IU Natatorium

394504_w308Change is coming to the IUPUI campus, thanks to a partnership between IUPUI, the city of Indianapolis and Lilly Endowment.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced the joint $30 million deal Monday, along with IU President Michael A. McRobbie, representatives from Lilly Endowment and other organizations involved in the project. The partnership is designed to strengthen IUPUI’s ties to the surrounding neighborhoods and make critical renovations to the IU Natatorium.

The IU Natatorium will be undergoing significant renovations.

Under terms of the agreement, the city will turn Michigan and New York streets into two-way roads from West Street, through the campus and across the bridges into the Haughville neighborhood. Part of that project will include improvements to pedestrian crossings, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, medians and other features.

The work will require rerouted traffic patterns beginning in 2015, officials said.

During Monday’s announcement, Ballard cited numerous advantages to the IUPUI campus, the city and its residents.

“Thousands of people enter and exit IUPUI for work, class and access to medical care every day,” the mayor said. “These streets improvements will make it safer and easier for people to access campus and encourage investment and development in Haughville, Hawthorne and Stringtown from companies seeking to be near IUPUI and the growing IU Health complex.”

Funding will include support from the downtown tax increment financing district, plus support from IUPUI and the endowment for upgrades to the natatorium.

“Just as the IUPUI campus has been an integral part of downtown Indianapolis for decades, the IU Natatorium has become one of the city’s signature sports venues of the last 30 years,” said McRobbie. “Indiana University’s investment in the future of the natatorium is emblematic of our commitment to the city of Indianapolis. The planned improvements will allow the natatorium to provide swimmers and divers of all levels — as well as fans of the sports — with a world-class facility for years to come, further strengthening the strong partnership between IU and the city.”

The natatorium is scheduled to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Diving Trials.

“This project involves several partners coming together to benefit the city of Indianapolis and the IUPUI campus,” IUPUI Director of Athletics Mike Moore said. “The natatorium is a special place in our community and these improvements will impact swimmers and divers of all ages, including our student-athletes.”

The infrastructure changes are expected to attract new development and increase the number of residents interested in the opportunities that will be available on the Near Westside. That could include a growing number of students interested in living in apartments and rental units in the affected neighborhoods.

City leaders are hopeful that the growth will help the Westside neighborhoods follow the path of other communities (like Fountain Square and the Old Northside) as “hot spots” in the center of Indianapolis.

The changes will help IUPUI become more a part of the city neighborhoods that surround the campus. City officials also hope that increasingly attractive housing options will help continue recent trends of college graduates deciding to stay in Indianapolis, both as residents and employees.

by Ric Burrous

IUPUI’s 2013-15 Common Theme Project focuses on civil discourse

The topic of IUPUI’s 2013-15 Common Theme Project is “Find Your Voice: Hear My Voice,” commencing a two-year effort to promote campus unity, conversation and collaboration around the topic of civil discourse.

Common Theme invites IUPUI students, staff, faculty and the community to engage in a discussion and deeper exploration of civil discourse in the classroom, work place and public sphere. Among the books recommended for the new Common Theme Project is “Saving Civility: 52 Ways to Tame Rude, Crude & Attitued for a Polite Planet” by Sarah Hacala.

The 2013-15 Common Theme Project will be led by Khadija Khaja, associate professor at the School of Social Work under the direction of Jane Luzar, dean of the IUPUI Honors College.

Every two years, a new common theme is selected along with a faculty fellow to lead this process who works in partnership with an active steering committee. The 2009-2011 theme was “Change Your World: The Power of New Ideas.”

The “Find Your Voice: Hear My Voice” theme will provide opportunities for rich discourse across the campus and community on communicating about diverse viewpoints in ways that validate shared humanity and connection.

Cross-campus discussions and events will highlight positive ways of communication to deal with complex situations and conflicts students face in their daily lives to better equip them to succeed in the workforce, make them better community citizens and ensure that they reach their full potential in our globally connected digital world.

The theme of civil discourse will be advanced through joint panels at interdisciplinary campus wide forums; collaboration with community organizations on workshops that are open to the public; showing of films; suggestions of different books that instructors can use in their classrooms to support the common theme; on site events in campus dorms; invitation of a national speaker; and research across the campus.