University of Indianapolis spending big on improvements

The University of Indianapolis is spending $50 million on improvement projects around campus.
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The University of Indianapolis is spending $50 million improving and expanding the south side campus. It is the biggest package of projects ever undertaken.

What looks like a hospital room is really a classroom. The medical emergency is simulated and the patients are mannequins. The nurses are students, but the money being spent improving these facilities and others is real.

"It is a lot of money," University President Robert Manuel admitted with half a smile. "Everyone is picking up the big story being the $50 million investment. The big story is we've crafted an educational program that's unique across the country."

Like other universities have done, UIndy, as it is also known, will expand and modernize its library, replace old student apartments with attractive townhouses, and renovate classrooms and laboratories.

But the lion's share of the money will build a new health sciences center. It's being designed as a health care clinic open to residents and practical training opportunity for nursing, physical therapy, pre-med and other health care students.

The big and ambitious plan will put new attention on UIndy, a university that hasn't received the headlines given to other Indianapolis colleges.

Marian College grew into Marian University and a medical school and Butler University used basketball and a Bulldog to expand its brand and reputation.

Although improving students' education and experiences, Manuel insists, is by far the biggest consideration.

"I will say our brand and reputation will grow as a result of the quality programs we are offering students," he said.

The building and development plan is expected to take five years, but students should start seeing change to their campus as early as fall.

Athletics are also part of the plan. The University of Indianapolis will be Indiana's first NCAA Division II with men's and women's lacrosse teams.