Indiana University Kokomo
Location: Indiana University Kokomo, Main Building at 2300 S. Washington St., Kokomo (Howard County), Indiana 46902
Installed 2021 Indiana Historical Bureau and the Trustees of Indiana University
Indiana University established the Kokomo Extension Center in 1945 in response to demand for classes in the area. The center grew with the enrollment of WWII and Korean War veterans under the G.I. Bill. The school held classes at the former Kokomo Junior College before moving to the Seiberling Mansion in 1946. Classes began at the new campus here in 1965.
In 1967, the campus offered its first IU degree program in nursing and partnered with Purdue University to offer an associate degree in technology. After a statewide reorganization in 1968, the center became Indiana University Kokomo, which awarded bachelor’s degrees in education and associate degrees in nursing and engineering at its first commencement in 1970.
Indiana University established the Kokomo Extension Center in 1945 in response to demand for off-campus classes in the area. The center grew with the enrollment of WWII and Korean War veterans under the G.I. Bill. The school held classes at the defunct Kokomo Junior College before moving to the Seiberling Mansion in 1947. Classes began at the new campus here in 1965.
In 1967, the campus first offered an IU degree program in nursing and partnered with Purdue University to offer an associate degree in technology. As part of a statewide reorganization in 1968, the center became Indiana University Kokomo. The Kelley Student Center, named for donor Ed Kelley, opened with a new library and space for extracurricular activities in 1989.
The Minutes of the Indiana University Board of Trustees are accessible via IU Board of Trustees in collaboration with the Indiana University Archives & Indiana University Libraries Digital Collections Services, https://trustees.iu.edu/meetings-minutes/minutes.html
 “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” July 26, 1945; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” September 20-21, 1945; “Kokomo to Get I.U. Extension School,” Kokomo Tribune, August 20, 1945, 1, 3, 9, Newspapers.com; “Former Central Normal President to Head Kokomo extension Center,” Kokomo Tribune, August 31, 1945, 1, Newspapers.com; “Mrs. C.C. Heflin Named as Head of Civic Council,” Kokomo Tribune, September 14, 1945, 3, Newspapers.com; “Indiana University Classes, Kokomo Center,” Kokomo Tribune, September 17, 1945, 3, Newspapers.com; “Extension Center to Interview Vets,” Kokomo Tribune, September 14, 1946, 5, Newspapers.com; “Indiana University Classes, Kokomo Center,” Kokomo Tribune, January 25, 1946, 2, Newspapers.com; “I. U. Center Here is Expecting to Enroll 250 in Fall Semester,” Kokomo Tribune, September 2, 1946, 2, Newspapers.com; “For Business Personnel: Business Courses,” Kokomo Tribune, August 29, 1953, 2, Newspapers.com; “Fall Classes Begin September 14,” Kokomo Tribune, September 5, 1953, 5, Newspapers.com; Summer Session Begins June 15,” Kokomo Tribune, June 1, 1955, 9, Newspapers.com; "GI Bill Extended To Korea Veterans," CQ Almanac 1952, 8th ed., accessed November 14, 2019, http://library.cqpress.com/cqalmanac/cqal52-1378844; Indiana University Kokomo Center, First Semester 1952-53, Kokomo: Kokomo Center of Indiana University, 1953, 2, Indiana State Library, Indiana Division; Indiana University Kokomo Center, First Semester 1962-63, Kokomo: Kokomo Campus of Indiana University, 1962, 14-15, Indiana State Library, Indiana Division.
On July 26, 1945, the Board of Trustees of Indiana University approved the creation of the Kokomo Extension Center and allocated $3,000 (alongside $7,000 of previously-approved funds) towards its development. The Kokomo Tribune noted that this would be the sixth extension center for Indiana University. The Kokomo Junior College, led by Dr. Hurd Allyn Drake, and the Kokomo Public School System, led by Superintendent C. V. Haworth, cooperated closely with Indiana University to establish the Kokomo Extension Center. Under this agreement, the Kokomo Junior College suspended its operations and the new Extension Center used the former’s facilities at 508 West Taylor Street for afternoon classes. Evening classes were held at the some of the Kokomo Public School System’s facilities. Dr. Virgil Hunt, a former president of Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana, was tasked with the transition from the Junior College to the Kokomo Extension Center. The first semester of classes started on September 24, 1945.
The educational needs World War II Veterans under the G. I. Bill of Rights was a major impetus for the creation of the Kokomo Extension Center. As Dr. Hunt himself mentioned at the Kokomo Women’s Civic Council meeting on September 13, 1945, the Kokomo Extension center would provide “classes for returned service men,” among other obligations. In January of 1946, the Kokomo Extension Center interviewed veterans to understand their educational needs as well as provide information about the new center and other regional educational opportunities. An advertisement for the extension center’s second semester in the January 25, 1946 Kokomo Tribune noted that “Veterans may enroll under the ‘G. I. Bill of Rights’ and receive fees and books free and full subsistence, $65.00 or $90.00 per month for single and married veterans, respectively.” In its first fall semester, the extension center enrolled six veterans; by the second fall semester, it “jumped to 46. . . in a total enrollment of 156,” as noted by the Kokomo Tribune.
After 1952, Korean War veterans were also offered educational benefits under the G. I. Bill, which provided the Kokomo Extension center with more growth. As early as 1953, the Kokomo Center published ads in the Kokomo Tribune promoting their business classes as “approved for Korean Veterans.” Another ad from 1955 offered enrollment information to Korean War Veterans. Student Bulletins through the 1950s and early 1960s provide information regarding enrollment in the G. I. Bill under Public Law 550, also known as the Veterans Readjustment Act of 1952.
 “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” July 26, 1945; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” September 20-21, 1945; “Kokomo to Get I.U. Extension School,” Kokomo Tribune, August 20, 1945, 1, 3, 9, Newspapers.com; “IU-K has Given 30 Years of Service to This Part of the State,” Kokomo Tribune, October 19, 1975, 119, Newspapers.com.
According to the July 26, 1945 board of trustee minutes, Kokomo Junior College President Dr. Hurd Allyn Drake “stated that the Junior College will withdraw gracefully if the University will (a) maintain a program of courses that will enable the young people of Kokomo and community to get two full years of college work; (b) meet the economic need of the Junior College so that it can discharge its financial obligations which amount to about $1,900.00.”
The board of trustees noted at their September 20-21, 1945 meeting that these obligations were met. Indiana University paid Kokomo Junior College $1,100 for its assets, with a $973 cost reduction based on the sale of their “microscopes and chemistry supplies and equipment.” The minutes from this meeting further stated that the “Junior College suspend operation until such time as the Board of Directors should, if ever, deem it advisable to reopen.” A search of the board of trustee minutes brings up no further entries concerning the Kokomo Junior College.
A Kokomo Tribune article from October 19, 1975 provided a historical overview of the first 30 years of IU Kokomo’s history, based upon correspondence from the IU Kokomo archives. It states that the Kokomo Junior College operated from 1932-1945, when it was absorbed by Indiana University. The reasons for this development, according to the article, were twofold. First, the Junior College faced financial difficulties throughout its existence and “was able to maintain quality faculty and service only through the generosity of local businesses and professional persons.” Second, Indiana University was looking for another area to establish an extension center that would provide “educational opportunities to the veterans of World War II.” This facilitated the agreement between the Junior College and Indiana University implemented in the fall of 1945.
Therefore, it is more accurate to conclude that the Kokomo Junior College indefinitely suspended operations and the Board Trustees of Indiana University never reconstituted them, as the Extension Center fulfilled the obligations laid out by Dr. Drake.
 “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” May 20-21, 1946; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” December 15, 1946; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” June 30, 1947; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” November 16, 1947; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” February 20, 1953; “I.U. Acquires Kingston Home for Classwork,” Kokomo Tribune, August 12, 1946, 1, Newspapers.com; “I.U. Extension Center Moving Into New Home This Weekend,” Kokomo Tribune, September 14, 1946, 3, Newspapers.com; Kokomo Tribune, “Notice is hereby given. . .”, July 23, 1947, 33, Newspapers.com; “IU Purchases Brown Property for Expansion,” Kokomo Tribune, April 16, 1953, 1, 2, Newspapers.com; “Indiana University Center Adds Culture to Community,” Kokomo Tribune, February 19, 1961, 13, Newspapers.com.
IU Assistant Treasurer J. A. Franklin reported at the May 20-21, 1946 meeting of the Board of Trustees that “the Kingston Property, located near the center of the city, has been proposed” as a new facility for the Kokomo Extension Center. The property comprised of a “brick house of 15-20 rooms, with a garage that could readily be made into a laboratory.” Franklin further mentioned that the property would need some remodeling to make it functional for the extension center. Indiana University announced its purchase of the property on August 12, 1946, according to the Kokomo Tribune. In its announcement, the university disclosed that it purchased the property for $25,000 from Ralph and Mina Kingston, son and widow of the late George Kingston.
The September 14, 1946 issue of the Kokomo Tribune quoted Dr. Virgil Hunt, director of the Kokomo Extension Center, as saying that “minor alterations are being made on the property to more adequately facilitate its use by the center.” By December 15, 1946, more extensive alterations were planned, according to the Board of Trustees minutes. The university commissioned architect A. M. Strauss with “remodeling as is necessary at the present time on the Kingston property in Kokomo.” Strauss then developed a full remodeling plan which was approved by the board of directors on June 30, 1947, at a cost of $38,000 ($33,000 for the remodel and $5,000 for a new heating plant). A notice soliciting bids for the project was published in the Kokomo Tribune on July 23, 1947, informing potential bidders that “the work consists generally of the construction of additions and alterations to the present garage building, and certain minor alterations in the old residence building.” Contracts were awarded to the Mayfield Construction Company, Huston Electric Company, and the C. C. Heflin Heating & Home Equipment Company to complete this work, at a combined cost of $33,481.53, at the November 15, 1847 meeting of the Board of Trustees.
In 1953, Indiana University purchased the adjacent Mark Brown Property for the Kokomo Extension Center. According to the Kokomo Tribune, this purchase allowed the university to “conduct a larger daytime program of instruction,” as well as provide each faculty member with “separate offices, a condition that does not exist at this time.” At least by 1961, the Mark Brown Property was used specifically as an administrative building, campus library, bookstore, and faculty office space, as noted in the Kokomo Tribune.
 “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” May 16-19,1960; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” September 16,1960; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” October 20-21, 1960; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” January 20-21, 1961; “IU to Build New Kokomo Center,” Kokomo Tribune, March 22, 1961, 1, 2, 13, Newspapers.com. “IU Building Needs Here are Studied,” Kokomo Tribune, November 29, 1961, 7, Newspapers.com.
In May of 1960, the Board of Trustees discussed a potential purchase of land from Mr. Glen Hillis for the new Kokomo Extension Center campus, but determined that it was not a suitable tract of land. That September, the trustees met again to discuss potential sites for the new campus, particularly a 20-acre tract of land located on South Washington Street owned by Mr. and Mrs. Claude Mills. As the minutes noted, “this location appears to be highly practical from most viewpoints, and it is hoped that definite proposal will be received in the near future.” Alongside the Mills property, the university also considered a 12-15 acres near the US 31 bypass owned by Floyd and Beryl Cook in October of 1960. After considerable deliberations, specifically in regards to the costs of each tract as well as their locations, the IU Board of Trustees approved the purchase of Mills property in January of 1961. This provided Indiana University with 24 acres at a cost of $70,000.
The purchase was publicized in the Kokomo Tribune on March 22, 1961. In its announcement, IU President Herman B. Wells was quoted as saying:
The decision to provide the university’s Kokomo Center with better facilities recognizes Kokomo’s strategic location in an important area of the state. It is based likewise on our belief that this area will continue to grow and prosper thereby increasing the need for post-high school educational facilities.
The article further stated that the “construction of new building or perhaps more than one building, to house classrooms and other activities will not start this year, however, and may be several years away.” The Mills property also provided IU with many positive features which informed their decision, including a sanitary sewer, storm drainage, existing roads, police and fire protection, and an “aesthetic value with part of it consisting of rolling ground and a natural beauty that is missing in a flat plain.”
 “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” November 10, 1961; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” January 19-20, 1962; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” October 26, 1962; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” January 17, 1964; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” November 20, 1964; “IU Building Needs Here are Studied,” Kokomo Tribune, November 29, 1961, 7, Newspapers.com; “State OK Given New IU Kokomo Campus,” Kokomo Tribune, September 13, 1963, 2, Newspapers.com; “Ground Broken for IU Campus,” Kokomo Tribune, December 6, 1963, 1, 2, Newspapers.com; “Havens Trust Presents $227,500 to University,” Kokomo Tribune, January 12, 1965, 8, Newspapers.com; “Contract for Equipment at IU Campus Here Let,” Kokomo Tribune, January 19, 1965, 5, Newspapers.com; “Nearing Completion,” Kokomo Tribune, February 20, 1965, 16, Newspapers.com; “First Classes Meet on New IU Campus Here,” Kokomo Tribune, June 21, 1965, 2, Newspapers.com; “IU’s Kokomo Campus is Formally Dedicated,” Kokomo Morning Times, November 13, 1965, 1, Newspapers.com.
In November of 1961, the trustees of Indiana University chose Kenneth Williams, a Kokomo native, as a local architect to assist on the new Kokomo campus building with IU’s chosen team of Daggett, Naegele, and Daggett. (His death in 1964 left the project solely to Daggett, Naegele, and Daggett.) Alongside this development, the Kokomo Tribune reported that a team of IU representatives visited Kokomo to assess the needs for the new campus building. Dr. Victor Bogle, director of the Kokomo extension, laid out a series of reports to the team of IU concerning the center’s needs, including “the kind and number of classrooms, the library, and other features to be incorporated in the ‘new campus.”
On October 26, 1962, the board of trustees approved a preliminary proposal for the IU Kokomo campus building, with an estimated cost of $3,212,000. The final cost, as approved by the State Budget Committee and reported in the Kokomo Tribune on September 13, 1963, came to $3,231,245, within less than 1% of the projected cost approved by the Board of Trustees. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new campus center was on December 6, 1963 and was shepherded by Kokomo Campus Director Dr. Victor Bogle, F. A. Wilhelm (of F. A. Wilhelm Construction, Co.), Mayor John W. Miller, and IU President Dr. Elvis J. Stahr, as reported by the Kokomo Tribune. The Tribune further stated that the “university expects to have the new building ready for classes in September, 1955. The building will include classrooms, laboratories, and the 920-seat Havens Auditorium.” The ground was broken using a shovel manufactured from Dirilyte, a metal alloy manufactured in Kokomo.
As discussed in the minutes of the board of trustees, the aforementioned F. A. Wilhelm Construction Company, based out of Indianapolis, received the contract for construction of the new Kokomo campus building on January 17, 1964, based on their “low bid of $2,665,364.00.” For the construction of the adjoining Havens auditorium, the board also estimated that the Havens family trust would provide $200-250,000 for its construction. A year later, in the January 12, 1965 issue of the Kokomo Tribune, the final awarded amount given to IU by the Cressy Thomas Havens memorial trust for the auditorium was $227,500. “Presentation of the gist was in accordance with Mrs. Havens’ will,” the Tribune elaborated, “which directed that a sum by allotted from her estate to help provide a public auditorium for Kokomo.”
Construction was largely completed by the summer of 1965, with the first classes held on July 21, 1965, the Kokomo Tribune wrote. The article detailed on the remaining projects for its completion:
Sufficient classroom equipment has been received to use all the classrooms on the first floor, plus two or three rooms on the second floor. . . . Furniture still is coming in and will be received from day to day for several weeks. Stacks in the new spacious new library were being installed Monday, and the library will be equipped with used tables until its new equipment is all installed.
The formal dedication of the Kokomo campus building took place on November 12, 1965 in the newly-completed Havens auditorium. Nearly 750 people attended the festivities, including 80 from Bloomington, and coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Kokomo campus providing educational opportunities to the region. “We are proud to be a part of Kokomo’s growth;” declared IU President Dr. Elvis J. Stahr in the Kokomo Morning Times, “proud to be carrying out the state’s commitment; proud to share in the exciting enterprise of those who learn and those who teach here.” Students were also excited about the new building. “Living just 17 miles from the new center, I am able to pursue a teaching career while continuing in my first career as housewife and mother,” said Helen Robertson, a Kokomo Campus Honor Student, in the same Morning Times article.
 “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” January 20, 1967; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” March 10, 1967; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” May 19, 1967; Indiana University Kokomo Center, First Semester 1953-54, Kokomo: Kokomo Center of Indiana University, 1953, 27, Indiana State Library, Indiana Division; Indiana University Kokomo Campus, First Semester 1967-68, Kokomo: Kokomo Campus of Indiana University, 1967, 11, 12, Indiana State Library, Indiana Division; “I.U. Center is Ready to Open on Monday,” Kokomo Tribune, September 20, 1946, p1, Newspapers.com; “Extension Center Here May Have 500 Enrolled,” Kokomo Tribune, February 3, 1947, p1, Newspapers.com; “2-year Engineering School at Seiberling Mansion is Approved,” Kokomo Morning Times, January 19, 1967, 1, Newspapers.com; “2-year Nurses Course Added to IU Program,” Kokomo Morning Times, March 13, 1967, 1, Newspapers.com; “IU Appoints Mrs. Gardner Head of Nursing Program,” Kokomo Tribune, May 23, 1967, 11, Newspapers.com; “26 Women in Nursing Course at IU Kokomo,” Kokomo Tribune, August 10, 1967, 29, Newspapers.com; “St. Joseph Hospital Readies $2 Million Building Program,” Kokomo Tribune, May 2, 1969, 1, Newspapers.com; “Twenty to Receive Pins at IU-K,” Kokomo Tribune, June 3, 1969, 2, Newspapers.com; “List Area Students Who will be Graduating Monday From Indiana U.,” Kokomo Tribune, June 8, 1969, 39, Newspapers.com; “IU-K has Given 30 Years of Service to This Part of the State,” Kokomo Tribune, October 19, 1975, 119, Newspapers.com.
Purdue University’s involvement in the IU Kokomo Extension dates back to its beginnings. As early as 1946, students could take classes at the extension that were transferable to Purdue, and by 1947, Purdue offered a “full schedule of freshman engineering” classes, as noted by the Kokomo Tribune. The 1953-54 Extension Center bulletin provides a detailed listing of the Purdue freshman engineering program, which included classes in multiple fields of mathematics, English composition, and even public speaking.
In January, 1967, the IU board of trustees approved a two-year Purdue electronic technology program at Kokomo that would provide students with an associate’s degree, a first of its kind for the campus. Classes for this terminal degree would first be offered in the fall semester of 1967. The 1967-68 Kokomo campus bulletin outlined this program in greater detail, noting that it was “designed to prepare students for employment as electronics technicians in research laboratories, electronic industries, and in any industry that uses electrical power or electronic controls.” A full schedule of coursework was also included, mapping out the student’s two-year degree track.
Around the same time the Purdue program was getting off the ground, the IU Board of Trustees approved the creation of a two-year associate’s degree program in nursing at IU Kokomo on March 10, 1967, also the first of its kind for the campus. This program’s development coincided with St. Joseph Memorial Hospital closing their nursing program in June of 1969, around the same time the first graduates of the IU Kokomo program would be earning their degrees. Florence Gardner, head of the Associate of Arts in nursing program for IU in Indianapolis, was named the Director of the Associate of Arts in Nursing Program and Assistant Professor of Nursing on May 19, 1967 by the IU board of trustees. The program itself, according to the Kokomo Tribune, consisted of “two years plus one summer,” with “Howard Community and St. Joseph Memorial Hospitals . . . providing clinical training for students in the associate program.” Like with the Purdue program, the 1967-68 bulletin also provided a thorough description of the program and its coursework, with classes in microbiology, anatomy, psychology, writing, and American government, among others.
By August 10, 1967, 26 women from six counties had enrolled in the Nursing program, as reported by the Kokomo Tribune. The program was anticipating growth, as it was developed to accommodate a maximum of 60 students. The program comprised of both recent high school graduates and returning older students as well as previous college and nursing school graduates. Director Florence Gardner noted that while there were only women in the first class so far, the program was open to men. She also mentioned the benefits of the program: “First, the student can live at home, reducing her educational expense. Secondly, she can supervise her home and family responsibilities while she pursues her studies.”
The first 20 graduates of the nursing program participated in a pinning ceremony on June 4, 1969. A pinning ceremony is a traditional aspect of a nursing program, symbolizing graduates’ educational attainment and commitment to the profession. One interesting aspect of the ceremony was that two of the graduates were grandmother and granddaughter; Susan Cox (granddaughter) and Dorothy Stratton (grandmother) were photographed together for an article covering the ceremony in the Kokomo Tribune. Their degrees were awarded during Indiana University’s commencement on June 9, 1969.
 “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” June 29, 1962; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” April 19, 1968; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” June 7, 1968; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” June 5, 1968; Kokomo Campus of Indiana University, Course Schedule and Announcements: First Semester 1963-64, Kokomo: Kokomo Campus of Indiana University, 1963, Indiana State Library, Indiana Division; “I.U. Regional Campuses Are Granted Home Rule,” Indianapolis Star, June 8, 1968, 1, Newspapers.com.
In 1962, IU President Herman Wells presented a proposal to the Board of Trustees that would change the names of the regional extension schools of Indiana University. Under this recommendation, the Kokomo Extension center would be renamed “Kokomo Campus of Indiana University.” The proposal also called for “additional explanation in publications and references as outlined” for such name changes. This proposal was fulfilled for Kokomo, as the 1963-64 course schedule and announcements pamphlet for Kokomo displays the campus’s name as “the Kokomo Campus of Indiana University.”
The June 1968 board minutes outline the major points of reorganization, including the appointment of three chancellors serving under President Herman B. Wells: one for Bloomington, one for the Indianapolis campus, and one to oversee the other regional campuses. At this meeting, the board also renamed “the Kokomo Regional Campus of Indiana University” as ‘Indiana University – Kokomo.’” However, at the July 5, 1968 board meeting, the trustees gave final approval to name the campus “Indiana University at Kokomo.” The Indianapolis Star reported on the reorganization and renaming of the campuses.
 “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” September 30, 1983; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” March 3, 1984; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” September 11, 1987; “Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University,” April 9, 1988; “IU’s Kokomo Campus is Formally Dedicated,” Kokomo Morning Times, November 13, 1965, 1, Newspapers.com; “Moving In,” Kokomo Tribune, May 16, 1980, 2, Newspapers.com; “IU-K’s Growth Accelerating,” Kokomo Tribune, August 1, 1987, 3, Newspapers.com; “Benefactor’s Name Will Grace Center,” Kokomo Tribune, September 14, 1987, 3, Newspapers.com; “Group Approves Kelley Center,” Kokomo Tribune, September 30, 1987, 4, Newspapers.com; “Notice to Bidders,” Kokomo Tribune, January 15, 1988, 16, Newspapers.com; “Campus Feeling is Goal,” Kokomo Tribune, February 3, 1988, 2, Newspapers.com; “Bids Opened for Kelley Student Center on IU-Kokomo’s Campus,” Kokomo Tribune, February 14, 1988, 23, Newspapers.com; “Traffic Flow to Change at IU-K Campus,” Kokomo Tribune, March 1, 1988, 2, Newspapers.com; “IU-K Project Going Smoothly,” Kokomo Tribune, April 12, 1988, 2, Newspapers.com; “Officials ‘Wing’ Groundbreaking,” Kokomo Tribune, April 28, 1988, 1, Newspapers.com; “Buildings at IU-K Half Done,” Kokomo Tribune, September 13, 1988, 2, Newspapers.com; “Student Services Offices Moving,” Kokomo Tribune, June 15, 1989, 2, Newspapers.com; “Kelley Center Adds ‘Campus’ Look,” Kokomo Tribune, June 27, 1989, 2, Newspapers.com; “IU-K ‘Officially’ Dedicates Center,” Kokomo Tribune, December 5, 1989, 4, Newspapers.com; “Steak n Shake CEO, IU donor Kelley dies,” Kokomo Tribune, July 3, 2003, 11, 15, Newspapers.com.
Discussions of additional buildings on the IU Kokomo campus date back to the completion of the first campus building in 1965. The East Building, completed in the spring of 1980, provided students with new classrooms and laboratories and the faculty with 45 new offices. According to the board of trustee’s minutes, support for a “University Center building” was mentioned by the Student Body President of IUK on September 30, 1983. According to Jack Tharp, IUK’s director of student development, plans for the proposed center were discussed as early as October of 1980. The proposed University Center was approved by the board by at least March of 1984, when the IUK Student Body President “thanked Board members for their continued support of this project which will permit educational experiences, both in and out of the classroom, as well as enable the University to be a center of culture for the community.”
In 1987, the IU Board of Trustees unanimously approved naming the new building the Kelley Student Center, “honoring Ed and Wilma Kelley.” Estel Wood “Ed” Kelley was a successful entrepreneur, known best for his modern management of the “Steak n Shake” restaurant chain. He donated millions over the years to Indiana University, which culminated in the IUK’s student center and the University’s entire business school being named after him.
The State Budget Committee recommended approval for the $6 million project on September 30, 1987, according to the Kokomo Tribune. Bids for construction contracts were publicized in the Tribune by January 15, 1988, and the board of trustees approved bids on April 9, 1988. By that time, the project included the Kelley Student Center as well as a laboratory building. The estimated cost was $5,100,000 and the official bids came to $4,995,899. The Student Center, specifically, cost around $3.5 million, with “$2 million provided by the state of Indiana, while the remaining $1.5 million was raised locally through donations from local individuals, corporations, and foundations,” as noted in the Kokomo Tribune.
The official groundbreaking for the Kelley Student Center was held on April 27, 1988. The event was attended by IU President Tom Ehrlich, IUK Chancellor High Thompson, Student Body President Kent Kolanko, and Ed and Wilma Kelley, among others. “Buildings certainly don’t make a university,” noted Chancellor Thompson in the Tribune, “The faculty and the students are the university, but this facility will help create a true university atmosphere.” At the dedication, it was also mentioned that the student center “will house a cafeteria, a dining area, a bookstore, a student lounge, a child-care center and a career library.”
The buildings were halfway completed by September of 1988 and by June of 1989, the student services office moved into the new student center. Summer class registration was the “first organized activity” at the Kelley Student center, occurring on June 23, 1989. The child care center was anticipated to move to the new student center on the same day.
The Kelley Student Center and Laboratory Building at Indiana University Kokomo was officially dedicated on December 4, 1989. Roughly 250-300 guests attended the event, including IU President Tom Ehrlich, IUK Chancellor High Thompson, Kokomo Mayor Robert Sargent, Logansport Mayor John Davis, members of the Indiana General Assembly, and benefactor Ed Kelley. “This building is the direct result of the vision and dedication of hundreds of people who recognized and accepted responsibility of the university to help meet the academic, social, and cultural needs of our service area,” IU President Ehrlich declared in the Kokomo Tribune. Kelley also spoke at the event, noting that the new center “marks an important step in the social and commercial growth of our area.”
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