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New state-of-the-art facility brings students and public to Indiana Tech

By Jim Fester

jim_fester@fortwaynereader.com

Fort Wayne Reader

2004-09-27


“We’ve had an identity crisis in Fort Wayne for the last 25 years,” says Joel Harmeyer, Associate Director of Student Life at Indiana Tech. “Nobody knows us, nobody knows what we do, nobody knows we had this many students… You end up hearing it all. But I’ve got to tell you, every time someone comes to the campus, they’re just amazed.”

The Fort Wayne campus of Indiana Tech has taken some big strides to solve their “identity crisis” with a brand new 67,000-square-foot library/student center just opened this fall. The $10 million dollar facility features the refurbished and expanded McMillan library, formerly a standalone building, now attached to a Student Center. The Student Center houses a café and a recreation area in the basement with a six-lane bowling alley, billiards, table tennis and other games, and big-screen TVs. On the second level is a conference center which Indiana Tech is renting out for meetings and other events. “There was an old student union that was just night and day compared to this facility,” Harmeyer says.

Harmeyer says that the Fort Wayne campus of Indiana Tech can house a little over 300 students, while around 650 students attend day classes there. Plus, a huge number of adult working students attend night programs. The new facility, says Harmeyer, will attract and retain students and give Indiana Tech the atmosphere of a more “traditional” campus.

“You know Fort Wayne,” says Harmeyer. “There’s not a lot for our students to do on this side of town. We’ve done our best to address that problem. The students will have something to do, especially if they don’t have transportation. They’ll have a place to gather.”

For the general public, the centerpiece of the new facility is the 210-seat movie theater with stadium seating. “Cinema Center will present films four nights a week,” says Harmeyer. “We’ll also use that space for music acts, guest lecturers. We’ve never really had a facility like that before. It’s an auditorium/theater, so the possibilities are endless.”

Catherine Lee, Director of Cinema Center, says that the new theater (Cinema Center Tech) will offer some of the independent and documentary films that the Cinema Center specializes in, as well as serving the tastes of the students. “We’re hoping to offer a wider range of movies,” Lee says. “Exactly, what the mix is going to be, it’s hard to say. We’re surveying the student body right now, so we can show things that are of interest to them. We’re starting out kind of slow, and looking to be more adventurous once the weather gets cold.”

One plan that’s already in motion is to show music-related films. There’s a slew of music documentary and concert films out now, the perfect medium to show-off Cinema Center Tech’s brand new Dolby digital sound system (they recently screened the Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster, which Lee described as “really, really loud”).

Though the second Cinema Center screen is open to the public, Harmeyer stresses that the new facility is there to serve the students of Indiana Tech. “You can have the nicest $10 million building in the world, but if it doesn’t bring new students and keep the ones we have, it’s not really serving its purpose,” Harmeyer says. “We’ve always been a fully-functioning campus with day programs for traditional students, and night programs for working adults. Now, we’re starting to look like one.”

Cinema Center Tech is located on the Indiana Tech campus at 1600 East Washington Boulevard.

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