$3.5 million gift will help Ivy Tech expand Franklin campus

A $3.5 million gift will allow a community college to expand its campus in Franklin.

Ivy Tech Community College received an estate gift from the Bill and Sandy DeMichieli Trust, which gives the college ownership of the Franklin campus it had been leasing since 2008. That also allows the college to expand into another 9,000 square feet of space they hadn’t been using before.

Officials said they want to use the space for added classrooms and labs. What students will learn in that new space hasn’t yet been decided, but the possibilities include health sciences, such as medical assistance, biomedical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, and other industries, such as biodiesel mechanics, said Kathleen Lee, Ivy Tech chancellor for central Indiana.

No timeline has been set for when a decision will be made on how to use the space. First, the college wants to know what classes students want to take, and what programs will help the community be able to offer workers in needed fields, she said.

“We really want students to come in and find something they are interested in, but as important is for it to be something they can find a job in,” Lee said.

The gift is part of the estate of Bill and Sandy DeMichieli. Ivy Tech began leasing the building from Bill DeMichieli, a 30-year resident of Franklin, in 2008. That gave the college 12,000 square feet of classroom, lab and office space, according to a news release from Ivy Tech. The rest of the building, with 9,000 square feet of space, was leased by other companies over the past years.

Now, Ivy Tech will own the entire building. The gift totals $3.5 million, including $2.9 million for the value of the building and land and $600,000 for programs and scholarships, Ivy Tech spokeswoman Kelli Ford said.

Bill and Sandy DeMichieli were interested in health sciences and also connected to the college. The couple set up a nursing scholarship in 2008 after being cared for by Ivy Tech nursing graduates when they had been ill, the release said.

Bill DeMichieli was an engineer, and Sandy DeMichieli worked in human resources. He worked for Boeing for several years but also became a successful entrepreneur, owning restaurants, racing teams, commercial real estate, and car dealerships.

“Bill was a fascinating person. He had the best stories about his business ventures over the years. He was modest about his accomplishments, and honest about his failures. He saw himself in many of our students as they work hard and endure obstacles in pursuit of their education,” Tina Gross, campus president for Ivy Tech Franklin, said in a release. “This generous gift will provide the foundation for Ivy Tech to continue to expand programming at the Franklin campus.”

Currently, the Franklin campus has enough space for the more than 600 students enrolled this semester and more than 100 courses offered in general classes and for five associate’s degree programs in liberal arts, criminal justice, business, education and informatics, Lee said.

But one area they are watching is in informatics, since businesses need more workers skilled in computer support, and the popularity of that program is growing, she said. That could mean more computer labs will be needed for those courses.

With the gift, officials can now be confident they have the space they need for the future for new classrooms and labs, Lee said. The land also has room for added parking, which puts Franklin in a better position than some of the other Ivy Tech campuses, she said.

“Now we have the space, so it’s no longer a worry for us because we know we have the space to grow,” Lee said.