June 26, 2009

From college to university: Recent changes at Marian College

By Kamilla Benko

Since 2001, Marian College has made many changes to improve its campus, academics and community involvement.

“There was a big shift with the coming of President Daniel Elsener [in 2001], which has paved a way for the coming of the university,” said Oldenburg Franciscan Sister Rachel West, the archivist for Marian College.

As Marian College expanded, it outgrew its name.

Listed below are some of the additions and changes that have helped turn Marian College into Marian University.

Increase in student enrollment

In nine years, the student enrollment has almost doubled. The number rose from 1,260 students in 2001 to 2,123 in 2008.

While this increase is impressive, a more drastic change has occurred in the number of students seeking graduate degrees.

When the master of arts teaching degree program was first launched in 2001, Marian College only had 13 graduate students. Today, there are 300 students earning graduate degrees and teaching licenses in education at Marian University.

Online nursing program with St. Vincent Health

This fall, Marian University nursing students will have the chance to begin classes in an online accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree program.

The new program, according to a press release, “blends the convenience of online learning with on-site clinical education at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital.”

“[The bachelor of science program] shows how two Catholic organizations can build a partnership that meets the needs of our community by helping alleviate the crisis in nursing through a blend of tradition and technology,” said Elsener.

This program will be offered in addition to the traditional classroom setting.

Reorganization of academic departments

Under Elsener, the college was reorganized into five schools:

  • School of Business
  • School of Education
  • School of Liberal Arts
  • School of Mathematics and Sciences
  • School of Nursing

EcoLab: Urban wetland and historic landscape

Beavers, red fox, 160 species of birds, and many other animals and plants make their home in the EcoLab, a 55-acre wetland and lowland forest located on the north end of Marian University’s campus.

“The EcoLab has improved the environmental or ‘green’ standing of the university,” said Dr. David Benson, director of the EcoLab. “It is a superb location for student relaxation, spiritual reflection, mental rejuvenation and recreation.”

Since its public opening in November  2002, the students of Marian College have used the EcoLab as an environmental learning laboratory. Other local schools have used the nature preserve for field trips and excursions.

The EcoLab is open to the public without charge every day from dawn until dusk.

Marian Knights football team

In October 2007, the Marian Knights won their first-ever football game against Taylor University. The 2007-08 season was the inaugural year of the football program at Marian College.

Ted Karras, head coach, said the football team was created with four goals in mind: To add to campus vibrancy, increase male student enrollment, become a character-developing activity and increase school exposure.

“All of this we have done in two short years,” said Karras. “We assimilated well, and it is nice to see our campus reach university status. The football team was a catalyst for that growth.” †

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