Hard work pays off and few people know that better than Vicky Carwein. A diligent and successful career path has brought Carwein to Fort Wayne as the new chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), and she couldn’t be happier.
“I’m thrilled to be here and incredibly proud to be a part of this institution,” says Carwein. “There’s wonderful faculty, staff and students at IPFW, and the community is very eager to make this university prosper.”
Born and raised in Indiana, Carwein has returned to her roots and is eager to apply over 30 years of experience at IPFW. In Carwein’s case, a passion for education, student success and community integration is a recipe for success.
What career path led you to this position?
I went to school for nursing at Indiana University (IU) in Indianapolis. After graduating, I went to the west coast and spent the majority of my career there. I completed my master’s at the University of California in San Francisco, and worked for VA Medical Center in Livermore. From there, I moved to Las Vegas and taught nursing at the University of Nevada-Las Vega (UNLV). I remained there for 23 years, during which time I took a leave of absence to return to IU to earn my doctorate in nursing. I then became dean of Health Sciences at UNLV for six years. The University of Washington, Tacoma, was my next step. I was chancellor there and after that, I became president of Westfield State College in Massachusetts. I then went back to Washington state for six years as chancellor at Washington State University Tri-Cities. And now, I’m here!
As the new chancellor, what plans do you have for IPFW?
As the university’s current strategic plan ends in 2014, we are in the process of developing a new one. Dr. Carl Drummond, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, conducted a number of focus groups with faculty and staff in the spring to talk about IPFW’s future. The prominent issue that kept coming forward was focusing on student success. Providing our students with the tools they need to be educated people in society and to obtain jobs is our priority. To develop this strategic plan, we are soliciting input from across campus and outside the campus community. Going forward, I expect to focus on student achievement and our academic mission. The concept of an honors program is something I’m especially excited about. We are currently developing this program based on best practices around the country; a fully-developed honors program can be a game changer. It will transform what IPFW is known for and will distinguish us in new ways.
How do you see higher education changing in the next five to 10 years?
I don’t foresee a very dramatic increase in enrollments over the next few years. That will require us to be targeted in the students we’re seeking and make sure that we have the quality programs and services needed to make our students successful. We also need to realize that funding is not as robust as it used to be. We’re all going to have to do more with less.
With the stress and time consuming nature of this position, what makes it worthwhile?
Without question, it’s the students. The entire year we are preparing for graduation day. Watching them walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, knowing their stories, how hard it’s been for some of them and what they and their families have had to sacrifice, makes everything worth it. It makes every frustration, every long day and every hour I spend OK. With 85 percent of our students coming from a 10-county region, the majority of them contribute back to the community and the economy after graduation by working in our area.
What can we catch you doing in your spare time?
Travel is my absolute passion. If someone says “trip” I’m ready to pack a bag. I’ve been fortunate enough travel to all seven continents. I have loved experiencing different cultures, dress and food, as well as the ways in which different cultures and societies live and work. The most extreme place I have ever been is Antarctica, which was a test of my risk-taking skills! I’ve been to Egypt seven or eight times and I love it. The antiquities and the pyramids are unbelievable. I also play the piano and organ, but don’t have the time to do that as much as I would like.