University celebrates engagement


Photo by Alyssa Smith

Director of Corporate Partnerships Charmaine McDowell sets up Jenga, which she uses for team building during the interactive fair for the Celebration of Engagement Tuesday at the Performance Center. This was the second year for the Celebration of Engagement which aims to inform faculty on the partnerships and interactions that go on as a result of Outreach and Engagement.

Linda White’s first thought when asked about engagement was about weddings and TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress.”

After some thought, the president and CEO of Deaconess Health System said she figured that couldn’t be it. It must be about the result of ABC’s “The Bachelor.”

She finally came to the conclusion that engagement must mean how businesses and organizations take part in improving their community.

The Celebration of Engagement featured White, Associate Provost for Outreach and Engagement Mark Bernhard and President Linda Bennett. The event honored the many programs the university has implemented to reach out and create partnerships with other businesses and colleges.

“Engagement is really regarding people coming together on a personal basis and saying, ‘Let’s do something together,’” White said.

White, the keynote speaker said the university excels at connecting people on a personal level.

“This is why we exist as an organization. You’re very fortunate to have a president that recognizes the importance of engagement and partnerships,” White said.

It’s all about working together for the good of the community, and since the university is neutral, it is able to work together with other organizations to bring maximum benefit White said.

White said the first thing they do without fail when they look at hospitals is look at their mission statements and see if it matches with theirs.

“In the long run, one plus one equals three when you have the right partner,” White said. “Put two partners together and it is better than the sum of each one individually.”

Bennett began by saying the collaboration between USI, Purdue University and Crane Naval Base has received national recognition for the research tied to the joint effort. She also said the I-69 Innovation Corridor has impacted 23 counties across Indiana and Kentucky.

The project has increased potential for innovation all along the corridor.

Each of the university directors for the departments of outreach of engagement took the stage and announced their outreach achievements, such as the Purdue and Crane technological collaboration and the Regional Leadership Program. Other accomplishments were listed, such as the fact that it’s the 10th year in a row the university’s Japanese School is recognized by the Japanese government and the consistency of people that Startup Weekend Evansville brings in.

Each year, the Southern Indiana Japanese School sends in essays written by Japanese international students to take part in a writing contest given out by Japan Overseas Education Services.

“There are about 300 all over the world, and 20 Japanese students won the award last year, and we were one of them. It is surprising we could win this award for 10 years (in a row),” Southern Indiana Japanese School Principal Keietsu Nijimura said.

In their essays, the Japanese international students write about their experiences in the U.S. and at the university. There are 55 Japanese students enrolled at USI, and Nijimura believes the local automotive industry is the main draw to the area.

There are two main Consulate Generals of Japan in the Midwest, one in Detroit and one in Chicago, and they have jurisdiction over many states including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. Between the two Consulate Generals, a total of 20 schools are within their jurisdiction.

“When you look at the needs of any kind of community, a lot of it is related to education and communication. Who has the best expertise to do that? A college like USI,” White said. “USI being neutral can say, ‘take off those competitive hats, put on your community hat.’”