Leadership: Lester M. Wolfson, Director and Assistant Dean then Chancellor (1964-1987)
Governor Otis Brown (center) awards a US Bicentennial flag to (from left) Professors Patrick Furlong and John Lewis, Chancellor Lester Wolfson, and student Mary Ellen Hedgedus.
The 1960s was a time of change in South Bend as well as the nation. A wave of Baby Boomers was about to enter college. Locally, Studebaker officials announced their plant closure. IU South Bend was impacted by both phenomena. But there was no national model for the idea of regional campuses within a state university system at the time.
Students inside a Northside Hall classroom in 1976.
Under the leadership of Chancellor Lester Wolfson, the campus evolved. The number of academic programs and faculty grew rapidly. In 1965, IU announced plans to allow four-year degree programs at South Bend and Gary. Two years later, South Bend and IU Southeast celebrated the first graduates with IU degrees outside of Bloomington and Indianapolis. Masters degrees were approved in 1968 and awarded in 1970. The next year South Bend received its first independent accreditation. The campus was still part of the larger system, but it was gaining autonomy.
Professor Harold Zisla (pictured teaching in 1979) is one of several faculty to receive a “Sagamore of the Wabash” award, given for distinguished service to the state of Indiana.
By the mid-1970s, more than 5,000 students received instruction from a well-qualified, full-time faculty of about 140, supplemented by about the same number teaching part-time. The students were mostly “non-traditional” – older and working or raising a family (or both). There was little time or money for things outside of class. There were no dormitories or intercollegiate athletics like those found in traditional universities. A wide range of musical, theatrical, and fine arts programs, however, brought the campus prestige within the community.
Student life at South Bend was much like that on other IU campuses, with traditions like a Letterman Club (top, 1970s) and complaints about parking (center, 1979). But the campus also made child care available to help the “non-traditional” student body (above, 1986).