Some call it one of the University’s greatest employee benefits — full-time and part-time staff can earn, for free, an associate degree of applied science in business administration or a business administration technical certificate through Ivy Tech Community College.
The Ivy Tech program at Notre Dame is designed to be flexible. Employees go at their own pace, attending one to four courses per semester. Classes are conveniently held on the Notre Dame campus. Ivy Tech faculty members are very supportive and act as mentors and friends. Additionally, previously completed college coursework is considered and may even transfer into the program.
“The program helped prepare me for extensive work projects by teaching me the art of successfully juggling the demands of school, work and home,” says Carrie McCann, senior department administrative coordinator in the Office of Information Technologies.
Shelly Birkla, a systems engineering associate in the Office of Information Technologies, notes an unexpected bonus of the program: “I gained a lot of new friendships, meeting people I might have never crossed paths with otherwise.”
Going strong for more than 10 years, the Ivy Tech program started after the 2006 ND Voice employee engagement survey feedback indicated staff wanted more opportunities to develop their career skills. The following year, in 2007, the Office of Human Resources launched the Learning at Work Academy, which includes the Ivy Tech program as well as Computer Skills Training, High School Equivalency (general education degree), E.N.L. (English as a New Language) and Workplace Literacy. The Learning at Work Academy is intended to encourage the professional growth and career advancement of staff.
“Staff asked for opportunities to obtain training and to advance their careers at Notre Dame. We have a workforce dedicated to the University. This program is a win-win for employees and Notre Dame as a whole,” explains Susan Hurley, a learning consultant in HR who coordinates the program. “University leadership sees it as an investment in its employees.”
A total of 118 employees have successfully completed the Ivy Tech program. Some graduates have gone on to achieve their bachelor’s and master’s degree.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity,” says Janine Meersman, the lead administrative assistant in the Enrollment Division. “It started me on the path to pursue a Bachelor of Organizational Management from Bethel College, which I completed in 2014.”
“I had a more mature look at education and realized that I could do this,” says Lori Fuson, the administrative assistant in the Department of Physics.