Ivy Tech Community College announces retirement of Central Indiana Chancellor Dr. Kathleen Lee

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Ivy Tech Community College Central Indiana Chancellor Dr. Kathleen Lee has announced she will retire on July 16, 2021. Lee has been with the College since 1985 and has served in this role since 2012. The College has launched a national search process to fill the position.  

Lee joined the College in 1985 as the director of clinical education for its Respiratory Care program, followed by becoming its program chair from 1991 to 2001. From there, Lee served as the Dean for Health Sciences and Public Services from 2001 to 2005, then Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs in 2005. In 2010, she became the interim chancellor for several months before officially becoming chancellor in 2012.  

“I have been incredibly blessed to have almost my entire career at a community college like Ivy Tech,” Lee said. “I feel fortunate to work with the most dedicated professionals anywhere, serving the communities we care about.”  

Ivy Tech Central Indiana is the College’s largest service area with nine locations, serving Marion, Hamilton, Hancock, Putnam, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan, Hendricks and Boone counties.  

During her time as chancellor, Lee has been instrumental in developing the College’s downtown Indianapolis campus. In February 2011, the campus opened the Julia M. Carson Learning Resource Center to house the campus library, tutoring services, a community room and a 500-space parking garage.  

The following year, Ivy Tech Indianapolis held the grand opening of its Illinois Fall Creek Center, which was the former site of the original St. Vincent Hospital. Today, this building houses 211,650 square feet of classrooms, science labs, computer labs, study rooms, community rooms, Honors College, Barnes and Noble bookstore and Fall Creek Café.  

Growth on the campus continued and in 2014, Lee was proud to watch her team transform the former Stouffer Hotel at 2820 N. Meridian Street into the Culinary and Conference Center, which is now home of the Midwest’s largest Culinary School. 

Most recently, Lee has played a role in growing the College’s Automotive Technology Program, which broke ground on a new facility in July 2020 in Indianapolis’ International Marketplace District. This new Automotive Technology Center is scheduled to open for the Fall 2021 semester.   

Outside of the downtown campus, Lee has championed growth throughout the entire Central Indiana service area.  

In 2010, Lee and a team created a partnership with the Town of Avon to consolidate three of its west locations into one. Over its decade-long tenure in Hendricks County, more than 16,700 students have taken courses at Ivy Tech Avon, and the College has awarded nearly 3,000 credentials.  

The Hendricks County community has continued to flourish, ranking among the state’s fastest-growing counties, thus creating a need to expand educational offerings. In August 2020, Lee’s team announced Ivy Tech Avon would move to the new MADE@Plainfield learning facility in Plainfield, which will open in the Fall of 2021. At MADE, Ivy Tech will offer various classes, including math, science, business, information technology and health sciences.   

In another growing area, Lee worked with Ivy Tech Noblesville Vice Chancellor Dan Clark and a team to expand Ivy Tech’s presence in Hamilton County.  

In 2014, Ivy Tech Noblesville became the College’s 32nd location in the former Noblesville East Middle School. Today, Hamilton County is the state’s fourth-largest and fastest-growing county, with enrollment steadily rising. To meet the community’s needs, Ivy Tech and Hamilton County came together in September 2020 to announce plans to expand Ivy Tech Hamilton County Campus at Noblesville into the College’s 19th full-service campus. This transition will be effective on July 1, 2021.  

Two years later, Lee was a part of an initiative in partnership with the City of Shelbyville and Shelby County to launch the Advantage Shelby Program. This first-of-its-kind promise program encourages workforce readiness and college attainment for Shelby County high school graduates.  

In the classroom, Lee’s leadership has helped encourage the advancement of one of the most effective nursing programs in the state of Indiana. In April 2019, its Lawrence location held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for a new simulation lab to provide students a safe and realistic environment to practice clinical skills. 

Additionally, Lee has worked on several transfer program opportunities, with one of the most successful being the Ivy Tech IUPUI Passport Program.  

Locally, Lee collaborated with community organizations and government leaders to make college more accessible to all Hoosiers. In May 2018, Ivy Tech and IUPUI signed agreements with the City of Indianapolis and EmployIndy to launch Indy Achieves to close the county’s skills gap. Through this initiative, the City strives to increase the percentage of residents with a postsecondary credential from 42% to 65% by 2027. To date, more than 950 students have been awarded an Indy Achieves grant for Ivy Tech.    

One year later, Lee, IUPUI Chancellor Nasser Paydar and the Mexican Consulate in Indianapolis signed a memorandum of understanding for the Station for Educational Orientation to expand the Mexican community’s opportunities. 

Before Ivy Tech, Lee began her career in respiratory care as a critical care therapist at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. She also held positions as an educational coordinator as well as a staff therapist for St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove.  

Lee earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Secondary Education from Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio and then her Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy from the Indiana University School of Medicine. She later went on to earn her Master of Science in Adult Education from Indiana University and her Doctorate in Education from Ball State University. 

About Ivy Tech Community College 

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degree and short-term certificate programs, and trainings that align to the needs of the community. The College also offers courses and associate degree programs that seamlessly transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a Bachelor’s degree. 

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