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January 2, 2010

FLOYD COUNTY: Chancellor, community leader, mom believes she can have it all

For Ivy Tech Chancellor Dr. Rita Hudson Shourds, “Education is a passion.”

That passion has helped Shourds’ and her staff — funded by a $20 million capital campaign — grow Ivy Tech more than 200 percent since its last major expansion two decades ago.

Vision in a community college? A holistic college experience from a technical school? Shourds has put Southern Indiana’s educational landscape on the map, blazing the trail for innovation among the other fourteen regions of the state’s largest college system. And the coming year spells more work, as the campus prepares to expand.

Among her innovations in office, Shourds has created a full-time student retention office, the first of its kind in the Ivy Tech system. Keeping people in college and helping them achieve their goal, Shourds is highly invested in giving Ivy Tech students a holistic college experience, and through her vision, the office of student success was born.

“It’s a lot of people’s dream or idea, not just mine,” says Shourds, the campus’ first female chancellor and one of only three statewide. “It’s about finishing what you start. We want people to come in, but we also want them to stay and walk across that stage. The best day of the year is graduation day, because you’ve aided that person in completing something. A lot of these students are just hoping to make it through the first semester, but then you seem them gain confidence, so they begin to get excited about graduation day, because they know they will be successful.”

With so much to do at Ivy Tech, how does Shourds balance her personal and professional life? A wife and mother of two, Shourds says “I think I’m really good at turning the faucet on and off. When I’m home it’s really about my two girls, being a mom, and providing for their needs — we go to dance class, do homework. It’s important to me for them to see a mom who can juggle a lot of balls and do it successfully. We’ve heard it said that we can’t have it all as a woman, and I disagree — I think I do have it all. I hope that my daughters would be proud of me.”

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