IUPUI Solution Center hopes to help Perhaps you’d like to know how your non-profit could improve its fund-raising efforts. Perhaps you’re a small business owner in need of an intern to update your Web site. Or maybe you just need some information on the latest developments in bioscience. Look no further than the IUPUI Solution Center, “A front door to the campus.” IUPUI Solution Center’s Teresa Bennett Funded in December 2003 with a grant from the Lilly Endowment, the Solution Center is IUPUI’s answer to the question, “How do we address Indiana’s brain drain?” Teresa Bennett, director for outreach, believes the center reduces the complexity of accessing the campus: “It’s a pipeline, it’s a conduit, it’s a catalyst” for linking the academic community of IUPUI to the larger Indianapolis community.
The Solution Center seeks to promote IUPUI’s resources to the “external” community — that is, any person or organization outside of the university. The center fields questions and requests from every external source and then directs those inquiries to the appropriate department or scholar at IUPUI. Although the center itself is new, Bennett is quick to point out that its staff utilizes resources already in place. It thus combats brain drain by creating town and gown relationships which otherwise would not have occurred. Each party involved hopefully gains a deeper understanding of the opportunities available locally.
The center capitalizes on the unique aspects of the ever-changing student body at IUPUI. Already 90 percent of IUPUI graduates stay in Indiana, although the number of commuter students has steadily decreased over the past decade. Contrary to popular belief, “traditional” students comprise approximately half of the IUPUI student body. These traditional students are younger, less experienced in the work force and therefore more likely to take advantage of internships and part-time jobs that contribute to their field of study.
Additionally, Indiana’s lagging economy has meant fewer businesses are willing to hire employees straight out of high school or without any work experience. Bennett believes that businesses today find internships an economical way to keep costs down and build relationships resulting in skilled future employees. For small businesses, non-profits and government entities, the center offers a Community Venture Fund designed especially to facilitate the hiring of interns, increase research capacity or engage in other activities that might otherwise not be in the budget.