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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The owners of Terre Haute-based Garmong Construction Services have donated $1 million to establish a new scholarship fund at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Four generations of the Hannum family, who owns Garmong, have graduated from the school.

The scholarship is for future graduates of Vigo County high schools and will cover a cover a student’s full tuition for four years.

Garmong Chief Executive Officer David Hannum, a 1981 graduate, and his wife Kathy say they wanted to make the donation because of the impact Rose-Hulman has had on their lives and business.

“Rose-Hulman changes lives through its demanding academics and quality facilities, excellent and caring faculty and staff, and special campus community,” said Hannum. “Kathy and I want local students to benefit from Rose-Hulman well into the future.”

Prospective scholarship candidates must meet Rose-Hulman’s academic entrance requirements, rank in the top 5% of their graduating class, and be accepted into the Noblitt Scholars program

“My grandfather Claude (Garmong) thought it was a great measure of success to send his son to earn a Rose Poly degree in the 1920s, and that feeling of pride continues today within the family,” said Hannum.

The construction company has offices in Terre Haute, Evansville and Indianapolis. Hannum also serves on the Rose-Hulman Board of Trustees.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has launched an initiative to help connect alumni entrepreneurs with each other and with current students. The Sawmill Society Entrepreneurial Network includes a mentor/mentee program that will allow alumni to share knowledge with students who may want to launch their own businesses. The network is an offshoot of the Sawmill Society, a group of Rose-educated entrepreneurs who share business insight and experiences with each other.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Rose-Hulman Vice President for Institutional Advancement Steve Brady said the new initiative will serve as a catalyst of collaboration.

“We have all these successful alums who have started their own businesses. And we see the students on campus who are doing amazing things, creating, innovating, building,” explained Brady. “How do we marry those two. How do we connect our alumni in a way that they can mentor each other, give each other advice, really build that network?”

Brady says mentors will be able to present their areas of interest and expertise, and mentees can identify and contact mentors they feel will be helpful to them. He says the school is seeing a growing number of students express interest in starting their own businesses.

“Entrepreneurism is part of Rose-Hulman’s DNA for many, and the Sawmill Society will help facilitate a natural pipeline between our entrepreneurial-minded alumni and students,” said Rose-Hulman President Robert Coons. “This new program will provide them with a structured and supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem in which to share their innovative ideas, industry insights and expertise, while keeping the Rose spirit of giving alive.”

In addition to the entrepreneurial network, the society has also created the ventureship program which allows Rose-Hulman students to apply for paid positions during summer break to develop and launch startup projects.

“That was the same kind of realization that we had alumni who said, ‘I wanted to start my company earlier, but I couldn’t walk away from a paid internship over the summer because I needed the financial support,’” said Brady. “So, the idea of giving them some space to really explore their idea, along with the coaching and mentorship from faculty on campus, that was the idea of the venture ship to sort of build that internship opportunity for the students.”

Brady says the ventureship program gives students the resources and dedicated time they lack during the academic year.

Brady says an angel network of investors is being developed by Rose-Hulman alumni. While not directly affiliated with the school, the members of Sawmill Angel Network want to give back to the institute by investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

Click here to learn more about the Sawmill Society.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is celebrating the completion of a quarter of a billion dollar fundraising effort at the Terre Haute institution. The engineering school says the $250 million Mission Driven Campaign is paying dividends, in the form of scholarships, new academic space and programming that will enhance the school’s reputation as a national leader in STEM education.

“One of the things that is attractive to a lot of our students is the fact that they have opportunities to be on equipment and have experiences with hands on activities in the various engineering disciplines that many students don’t have until the graduate level,” said Rose-Hulman President Robert Coons. “We pride ourselves in offering those opportunities. But to do that, we have to have highly qualified faculty.”

Rose-Hulman, which launched the campaign eight years ago, says about half of the money ($127 million) is geared towards student scholarships and financial aid. The school says another $81 million supports the Rose-Hulman endowment and $30 million supports the construction of new academic space, such as the 70,000-square-foot academic building, which will open for the fall semester. Rose says investment in facilities is critical in drawing top students and faculty.

“These new workspaces, laboratories and classrooms provide our faculty with the tools to in turn provide our students with the skills desired by industry throughout the world and the nation’s leading graduate and doctorate programs,” said Jeffrey Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Citizens Energy Group in Indianapolis, who served as the campaign co-chair and is a Rose-Hulman alumni.

The school says the campaign raised $50 million over the past year alone, despite the pandemic. Since 2018, the campaign generated $100 million in gifts.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised a bit at how responsive some of our major donors have been despite, or in addition to, the challenges with a pandemic,” said Coons.

Coons says alumni account for about two-thirds of the giving. He says those gifts have helped with the creation of Noblitt Scholars programs, the expansion of the Mussallem Student Union and the development of the Kremer Innovation Center.

“Keeping current facilities, both in terms of just attractiveness, but also function and usefulness is critical,” said Coons. Recent gifts have also helped support athletics facilities, which Coons says is key to a well-rounded education and is an important recruitment tool.

“Over 50% of our freshmen class play some form of varsity athletics. And we’re (NCAA) Division Three. What they also love is to continue playing their sport for four more years. And at a smaller institution and a smaller conference, that’s something they can do,” said Coons.

While the school acknowledges the success of this fundraising, “we are going to pause for a day or two and celebrate,” Coons says the effort never really stops. In recent years, the school purchased an additional 1,100 acres of land. He says that property needs to be folded into strategic campus planning.

“We are excited about starting a new phase of that planning,” said Coons. “And along with that, of course, will be needs for financing those activities. And so the campaign goes hand in hand with that.”

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WISH) – Rose-Hulman officials have announced that they have named their new president of the college. 

On Thursday, the Rose-Hulman Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name Robert A. Coons as the institute’s 16th president effective immediately.

The action came just a week after Jim Conwell announced his resignation on Nov. 7 as Rose-Hulman president. Conwell said the reason for his sudden departure was a family crisis.

Coons is no stranger to Rose-Hulman. He has nearly 30 years of service to the campus. He recently served as senior vice president. He was chief administrative officer for the last six years. He also served as interim president during the 2012-13 school year; was chief administrative officer from 2005-2012; and formerly served as vice president for business and finance, and controller.

His education background is also impressive: a master‘s of business administration from Indiana State University, a bachelor’s in business from Indiana University, and a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute for Education Management.

Trustees chair Niles Noblitt issued this statement: 

“Rob is well prepared for this key leadership role, and the Board of Trustees has full confidence that he is the right person to keep Rose-Hulman moving forward in meeting its future challenges. Rob has earned the respect of trustees, faculty, staff and alumni, and many encouraged the trustees to select him.”

Coons issued this statement: 

“Rose-Hulman is a special place with a real sense of community and a commitment to excellence. We have made great strides with our strategic plan, yet still have much progress to make in diversity, strategic partnerships, scholarship support, and community involvement. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that Rose-Hulman not only remains a national leader in science, engineering and mathematics education, but also continues to set the bar for others.”

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO) — Rose Hulman Institute of Technology officials announced Wednesday that their leader, President Jim Conwell, is stepping down. 

The executive committee of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Board of Trustees has accepted Conwell’s resignation effective Nov. 15. The mutual decision was based on the trustees’ concerns and Conwell’s need to focus on a family health issue that is requiring more of his time and attention.

“Jim has moved this institution forward — we have a beautiful new student union, additional land on which to grow, and a new academic building in the works,” said Rose-Hulman Board Chair Niles Noblitt. “We wish him well.”

The Board’s executive committee has appointed Senior Vice President Rob Coons to serve as acting president until the full board can meet later this month to discuss a leadership transition plan.

“Rob has stepped into this leadership role in the past during times of sudden change,” Noblitt said in a statement. “He will provide continuity and direction. The Board is very appreciative of his willingness to serve.”

Noblitt noted that all of the institute’s current initiatives, including the Mission Driven campaign, are moving full speed ahead under Coons and Vice President Steve Brady’s leadership. “The Mission Driven campaign started before Jim arrived at Rose-Hulman and is in very capable hands going forward.”

He added, “The campaign has real energy, and the Board has every confidence that Rob and Steve will continue to keep that momentum going.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A 9-year-old from Zionsville got a present she’s wanted her whole life, courtesy of engineering students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

For a year, a group of students worked long hours to make the perfect gift for Bella Cates, who lives with cerebral palsy and has long wanted a bicycle that safely accommodates her.

“As a mom, you can only imagine how it breaks your heart when you see your child trying to keep up,” said Marcie Cates, Bella’s mother, talking about watching Bella and her friends biking.

For two years, Bella has tried countless bikes. None were comfortable or safe for Bella’s right leg.

“Traditional training wheels were challenging, weren’t they?” Marcie said to Bella.

The Cates family reached out to Rose-Hulman to see if its engineering students could help. Five students made it their senior project. They took a Walmart bicycle and spent hundreds of hours transforming it for Bella.

“We were all motivated throughout the year to keep working hard on this bike,” said Michel Farhat, a senior from Houston, Texas.

They added an adjustable seat, along with custom pedals, wheels, handlebars and brakes. And students learned to weld so they could create a custom bike frame.

“That way we could make the bike look professional,” said Joshua Henning, a senior from Springfield, Illinois.

On Thursday, Bella got her new bike to ride and keep up with her best friends.

It was the perfect fit for a girl with a heart of gold. She told WISH-TV she chose aqua as the color of her bike for a special reason: “It’s my mom’s favorite color. I just picked it because I thought (she) would like it.”

“Oh Bella! That’s really, really nice,” her mom said.

The students say it’s Bella’s infectious personality that inspired them.

“Being able to put a smile on her face and knowing she’ll be able to have fun with her friends was a great feeling,” said Henning.     

It’s a bike that will last years and a memory that will last a lifetime. 

While the custom bike was given to the Cates family as a gift, a Rose-Hulman spokesperson said he’d guess the customized bike would cost about $1,000 to make. The university covered those costs for the students.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO) – Richard Ditteon spends a lot of time looking up.

As director of the Oakley Observatory at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, he knows a solar eclipse is a rare treat.

“It’s going to be well-placed where a lot of people can observe,” Richard Ditteon said.

On the big day, Rose-Hulman will host a free watch party, where the public can safely watch the eclipse from several high-tech telescopes.

“Eclipses are fairly rare in highly populated areas. That’s what makes this one particularly nice because a lot of people are going to be able to see it without having to travel long distances,” Ditteon said.

The last time an eclipse passed over the Wabash Valley, was in 1994, and that was only a partial eclipse.

So how far will you have to drive to see it?  All you have to do is walk outside.

“The further south you go the more of the eclipse your going to see,” Ditteon said. “We are going to be about ninety-five percent total here.”

According to Ditteon, the most rewarding part of sharing his love of space is seeing the reactions kids have to it.

“When they come out and look through the telescope and get excited, it’s really satisfying and fulfilling,” Ditteon explained.

From start to finish, the eclipse will last a couple of hours. It will begin in the early afternoon. If you can not attend the event, Rose-Hulman is also planning on live streaming the event over the internet.

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – For the 18th year in a row, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has been ranked as America’s top undergraduate engineering college.

This ranking is based on a national survey by U.S. News & World Report for its 2017 college guidebook.

And, not only is RHIT ranked number one as a whole, but there are also five programs that were ranked number one as well. Those programs include chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.

“Our national reputation is expanding, thanks to the continued dedication of our board of trustees, administration, faculty members, and staff; our emphasis on teaching; and our entrepreneurial, hands-on focus,” President Jim Conwell said. “The U.S. News & World Report ranking once again affirms, from our higher education peers, that we’re living up to our core mission of providing the best STEM education in an environment of individual attention and support.”

On campus, Rose-Hulman has just welcomed a first-year class with the largest population of female students (166), increasing the female population in the student body to a record 25 percent.

For the full list, click here.