When Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard delivered his annual State of the City Address at UIndy, he used the occasion to make a special announcement. The City of Indianapolis is awarding $1 million to the University this year to help develop the planned health sciences center and install key features at a neighborhood park, both projects being part of UIndy’s broader effort to enhance University programs and reinvigorate the surrounding neighborhoods. The funding, which comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant program, reflects a shared interest in bringing new services, businesses and jobs to the Southside.
“We are making significant investments on campus and in our surrounding neighborhood,” UIndy President Robert Manuel said. “With nearly 1,000 employees and more than $23 million in annual spending in Marion County, UIndy serves as a major anchor for an area of the city that is in need of investment. As we expand programs and enhance facilities, we want to do so in ways that bring benefits to our neighborhood.” UIndy recently announced a five-year, $50-million development plan that includes the construction of a four-story, 134,000-square-foot health sciences center as the new home for its programs in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, kinesiology, and athletic training. The classrooms, laboratories, and offices will enable the University to develop new academic programs, including a master of public health degree that debuts this fall. A partnership with a medical clinic, to be located within the center, will make health and wellness services available for residents and businesses in a section of the city with few such amenities, while also providing clinical experiences for students. The center is expected to bring new economic activity and more than 200 jobs to the Southside, and its unique nature will foster collaboration and research on healthcare disparities and other public health issues.
When the grant is finalized this spring, the University will receive $900,000 to equip the health center with computer workstations and equipment such as specialized treadmills, gait and movement tracking systems, and an escalator for mobility training. An additional $100,000 will support the development of University Heights Park, which UIndy established last fall in the neighboring University Heights subdivision. The University-owned one-acre site in the 4100 block of Mathews Avenue will serve as an outdoor lab for students in biology and related fields, as well as a recreational and gathering space for nearby residents and community groups. UIndy will construct a shelter and provide heavy maintenance at the site. Students will collaborate with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and residents from the University Heights Neighborhood Association to transform the vacant lot with walking paths, new trees, and native plants and grasses, creating a natural wildlife habitat.