Q&A with long-time college leader Chuck Lewton

Chuck Lewton, who was with Ivy Tech Fort Wayne for 29 ½ years before retirement and moving to the Sunshine State, spent time sharing some of his thoughts and memories with us from over the years:

Years of service

29 ½ years: June 1983 through December 2012. I can honestly say I enjoyed my experiences working at Ivy Tech and am proud of my accomplishments. I had the opportunity to work with a variety of professionals and have remained in contact with many of them today.

Family at Ivy Tech

I have four children and all of them took courses at Ivy Tech over the years.

Positions over the years

I had various titles throughout the years, and with title changes came additional responsibilities. My titles included Student Services Manager, Director of Student Affairs, Dean of Student Affairs, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Growth = space shortage

Ivy Tech had—and probably still has—struggles with finding space for programs and people. Today’s employees may think space is tight, but in the early days there were four to five employees in an area that today houses one, or maybe two, employees. Most employees shared offices. In the late 1980s, Jim Aschliman was hired and top administrators met for three days to determine which staff and faculty could be relocated so Jim could have a private office to greet and counsel prospective students. Many faculty and staff wondered why and expressed concerns about Jim getting a private office.

Also, all employees knew each other and many socialized together outside of work. As time went on, and the College grew, employees were mainly familiar with employees in their immediate areas, so it became necessary for employees to wear nametags. There were also professional development activities created to enhance interaction with employees and students.

Working with students

I saw many students grow socially and professionally. With the addition of student organizations, many students were given a chance to shine and grow with responsibilities of the club. Most Ivy Tech students did not have previous opportunities to grow professionally and develop their confidence. I observed many students grow academically because they were ready to learn, saw the value of their education, and hence were academically successful.        

Interactions with employees

I had many positive interactions with employees from Fort Wayne, other regions, and systems office.  Ivy Tech provided me an opportunity to interact with and learn from a wide variety of people. I had the chance to work with some of the most professional, sincere, and hard-working student affairs personnel in the region and state. They worked long hard hours during enrollment periods in order to assist students in the enrollment processes and were not always given the appropriate credit for their efforts.  The student affairs personnel worked extremely hard to develop student confidence and set them on the right path for success. 

Ivy Tech’s biggest milestone

In 1983, Ivy Tech had terminal degrees and courses that would not transfer to four-year institutions.  Many local professionals felt Ivy Tech was a good school for other people’s children but not their own.  Over the years, transfer of credit became more prevalent, but wasn’t always recognized by the public.  Not until the name was officially changed to “Ivy Tech Community College” did the public begin to recognize Ivy Tech as a viable, comprehensive higher education institution.

Chuck’s lasting legacy

I would hope that people would remember my care for the students and that they ALWAYS have a right to a fair chance or hearing. You must listen to their concerns. Try to remember that many are going through a lot of personal stress, and their success at Ivy Tech may be their last chance. I worked to accept people for who they were without any prejudgment. Early on, there was a time when developing and expanding online registration and orientation was discouraged, but I feel we were the leading region in this endeavor and set the bar high for others when it became a best practice. And finally, I was very involved in the acquisition of the State Developmental Center which is now our North Campus. This allowed the College to improve facilities, student life, and enhance the quality of education. 

Enrollment growth

I was usually pretty accurate in projecting enrollment between 3% to 5%, even if Ivy Tech was about to experience a decrease in enrollment. Enrollment projections were difficult to manage. Of course, growth was always the desire, but not all employees saw growth as a positive. I felt my role was to keep everyone happy working toward a common goal and to minimize pressure.

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