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Vigo Co. commissioner wants the county council to table ISU funding request

(photo courtesy of Indiana State University)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WISH) — The Vigo County Council is asking Indiana State University to table its request for $3 million in funding for its Early Childhood Learning Program, according to a tweet by Mark Clinkenbeard, one of three Vigo County commissioners.

The request is part of the council’s plan to invest $20 million in American Rescue Plan funds across the community.

Clinkenbeard said the county council originally signed off on the project, but with reservations. The council is worried ISU is disconnected from the community.

“It was our hope that things on campus would start to improve and justify this commitment. However, in my opening, things have not only improved, but by many accounts have gotten worse,” Clinkenbeard said.

Clinkenbeard said ISU enrollment has declined and staff positions have been cut. He also said ISU traditions are being disregarded.

Clinkenbeard’s statement comes after the school said it would not host the 2023 National Collegiate Athletic Association Super Regionals earlier this month. The school said it had already committed to hosting the Indiana Special Olympics during the time of the tournament.

ISU also said it did not have enough staff to handle hosting duties.

“And the recent black eye the university has received by Dr. Curtis deciding against hosting the NCAA super regional tournament. This tournament was earned by the team and would have brought with it millions of dollars in free advertising and an opportunity to once again show off our community,” Clinkenbeard said.

He said each of these complaints is contributing to the school’s overall lack of connection with the community.

“Perhaps the most troubling thing coming from Dr. Curtis’ administration is the total disconnect from the Terre Haute community,” Clinkenbeard said. “I want to be more than an ATM machine, I want to be a partner. There are so many good things happening in the county and we need a resurgent ISU leading the way.”

He said he wants to table ISU’s request until “all parties can get together and talk about these issues.”

When asked by a Twitter user if the county council could hold ISU accountable “without causing harm to young children,” Clinkenbeard replied, “We have other options we can look at,” but he did not specify what those options would be.

The city council is set to discuss the request at Tuesday night’s meeting.