Just like the Indianapolis Colts, Anderson University has upped its game since the last time the NFL team had its training camp here in 1998.
The university has invested more than $55 million in facilities since the 1990s, President James Edwards said Thursday as the team announced its selection of AU as its new training camp home from Aug. 1-18.
In a moment of levity Thursday, Colts President Bill Polian quipped that $55 million was about the price of a quality football player. But he said changes at AU won over the team.
“It’s a great facility,” Polian said as he stood inside the Ruth Lilly Pavilion of the $15 million Kardatzke Wellness Center that opened in 2002. “It’s an ideal site for us.”
It didn’t used to be. When the Colts last camped at AU during Peyton Manning’s rookie year, things were different.
“It was pathetic,” Edwards said during a telephone interview Friday. He said the team used to carry its own weights to camp and summer conditioning frequently took place outside beneath a tent or in an old, double-wide manufactured home just off the football field.
“The football field itself wasn’t bad, but the problem was that with minimal use, they’d pretty much tear it up,” Edwards said. By contract, he said the Colts had been limited to 40 minutes a day on the field.
Polian said Thursday that the Colts’ move back to Anderson from the team’s former summer home at Rose-Hullman Institute of Technology seemed to be by mutual agreement of the team and the Terre Haute school. He noted a pro sports team puts a tremendous strain on facilities.
“Our take on that was, that’s exactly where we were,” when the Colts left Anderson in favor of Terre Haute a dozen years back, Edwards said.
But facilities improvements at AU — from Kardatzke to renovated housing facilities to new turf and field lights — made the Colts feel back at home.
“What we found out is we really did change the equation,” Edwards said.
Changing the equation is a formula the university has been working on since the 1990s, when AU embarked on a major capital campaign that had Kardatzke as its focus. “That really was the beginning of quite an era for us,” Edwards said.
“We spent a dozen years planning (Kardatzke) and raising the money,” Edwards said. The resulting facility has become the epicenter of campus activities. “We did it in such a large and bold way.”
Edwards said such buildings are important for schools such as AU.
“We really have to compete for students,” Edwards said. “It’s even more intense today. You have to give students some really good reason to come to an independent, privately sponsored institution, and spend a few more bucks and hopefully get your money’s worth.”
The university also changed the face of the two major east-west thoroughfares — University Boulevard and Fifth Street — during Edwards’ tenure. AU also has purchased property that had been owned by the Church of God, with an eye toward expanding.
“We’re going to do it thoughtfully and carefully, and we’d like to make some bold moves,” Edwards said in reference to the University’s current fundraising campaign, Dreams. Discovery. Direction. AU has commitments for $96 million of its $110 million goal, he said.
“We have really had some loyal, incredible friends to step forward,” he said.
The coming projects at AU will be some of the biggest yet. They include:
- A proposed university center that will rival the size of Decker Hall.
- A proposed facility to house communication and performing arts programs.
- A recital hall.
- Student residence improvements.
The campaign also will increase AU’s endowment, which Edwards said took a hit in the economic downturn as did the financial underpinnings of nearly all institutions. He said AU’s endowment fell from about $27 million to about $19 million. The campaign will boost the endowment to the $50 million to $60 million range.
The campaign also will raise millions for student support and scholarships.
Changes at AU have been more than bricks and mortar. The level of educational opportunities has risen, and so has AU’s reach.
“Certainly graduate programs have been the real growth of the last decade of a little more,” Edwards said. “There were no graduate programs except in the school of theology when I came here in 1990.
“Since that time we’ve added significant programs to the doctoral level in business and theology” as well as master’s degree programs in business, nursing and other fields. “The programs added about 500-600 students to the campus.
AU also established a footprint in the Flagship Enterprise Park, where it operates a residential MBA program and offers educational programs in conjunction with Purdue University and Ivy Tech. “Our board really became entrepreneurial about that decision,” Edwards said.
The university’s changes have raised its profile locally.
“I think certainly what we’ve seen in the economic community is businesses understand that we’re a pretty stable part of the community and the turnover (of money invested in AU) stays right here in the community,” Edwards said.
AU expects to continue to grow in student population, but not drastically.
“We believe we will be a better university at 3,000 students than 2,700,” Edwards said.
Years of Transformation at Anderson University
Since the Indianapolis Colts last conducted a training camp at Anderson University in 1998, the campus has undergone a transformation. New construction has changed the face of the school, and new programs and partnerships raised its profile academically and its prominence in the community. Here are some highlights:
2000 March: Radio station WQME marks 10th anniversary March: Dr. Jerry and Patricia Stevenson of Estes Park, Colo., donate $1 million to establish AU’s endowed chair of biology. May: AU and Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon announce creation of the Center for Character Development. September: U.S. News and World Report gives AU high marks for the fifth straight year in categories such as academic reputation, students selectivity and faculty resources. November: AU announces plans for the $15 million Anderson University Wellness Center, which later becomes the Kardatzke Wellness Center. The nearly 121,000 square-foot center is designed to incorporate all forms of health, recreation and wellness. It will be the largest building project in the university’s history.
2001 January: School of business renamed in honor of Glenn Falls, professor emeritus of business and economics. September: U.S. News and World Report ranks AU in the top tier of Midwestern universities — a distinction it receives repeatedly in coming years. November: AU’s Center for Lifelong Learning begins offering noncredit courses online. November: Crystal Arch by AU professors Arlon Bayliss and Jason Knapp dedicated at Anderson City Hall.
2002 July: For the first time in its history, AU closes enrollment for first-time undergraduate students because student population met institutional capacity. October: Kardatzke Wellness Center is dedicated. Center is named for Dr. E. Stanley Kardatzke, a 1961 alumnus and prominent Indianapolis physician whose donation launched the project.
2003 July: AU, city and state officials announce the designation of Flagship Enterprise Center as Indiana’s second Certified Technology Park. AU’s Falls School of Business plans to offer degree programs and partner with Ivy Tech Community College and Purdue University. November: A new dual-degree program allows graduate students to pursue a course of study to simultaneously receive a master of science in nursing and master of business administration. It is only the second such program in Indiana. November: Ruth Lilly donates $2 million to AU for Kardatzke Wellness Center. Its center pavilion is named in her honor. December: Ground is broken for Flagship Enterprise Center.
2004 January: Lilly Endowment gives AU $3.5 million to match fundraising efforts September: Business Reform Magazine ranks AU’s Falls School of Business No. 1 among business schools with a biblical foundation.
2005 May: Graduation takes place in Kardatzke Wellness Center for the first time. May: Flagship Enterprise Center is dedicated. August: New student housing at Fifth Street and Nursery Road named in honor of Anderson residents Denton and Aline Fair and Phillip and Betty Fair.
2006 August: Officials announce plans for a $7 million education center to be built as an expansion of the Flagship Enterprise Center. October: AU President James Edwards announces the $110 million “Dreams, Discovery, Direction” fundraising campaign, the school’s largest in history. Its goal is to raise $51 million for capital projects, $34 million for endowment and $25 million for operational support. Proposed buildings include a new Student Center, University Center and Recital Hall. When announced, more than $61 million in gifts have been received or pledged.
2007 June: The $2.9 million Flagship Accelerator is dedicated. Its aim is to support “early stage companies” in making a transition from the business incubator to a permanent location locally. August: Flagship Enterprise Center, housing the Falls School of Business residential MBA program and the School of Adult Learning, is dedicated. December: Plans are unveiled for a $2 million reconstruction of Fifth Street and College Avenue to beautify and make the campus thoroughfares friendlier to pedestrians.
2008 February: Grant money helps AU faculty incorporate more community service projects into classes. April: AU’s Covenant Productions® premieres the documentary “A Ripple of Hope,” about Robert Kennedy’s speech in Indianapolis on the night of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film is critically praised and goes on to win awards and is distributed nationally to public television outlets.
2009 April: The Mack and Irene Caldwell Peacemaking Fund at Anderson University reaches its fundraising goal of $1 million. The endowment funds a program that offers students a minor in Peace and Conflict Transformation and classes on principles of peacemaking; peacemakers; peace, conflict and religion; and sustainable agriculture. May: Anderson and Purdue universities announce a program in which students may earn two master’s degrees at the same time through facilities at the Flagship. The program allows students to earn a master of business administration from the Falls School of Business and a master of science in technology from Purdue’s College of Technology. September: Saint John’s Health System and Saint Vincent Health partner with AU’s School of Nursing to create the Saint John’s Center for Clinical Excellence nursing education facility. Technology includes SimMan3G, a patient simulator. October: Renovated Fifth Street reopens.
2010 June: Indianapolis Colts announce the team will return to AU for training camp in August after an absence of more than a dozen years.
—Dave Stafford is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.