VU Board honors outgoing Trustee George Ridgway for decades of service

VU Board honors outgoing Trustee George Ridgway for decades of service

VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson presents Trustee George Ridgway with a resolution of appreciation

August 25, 2022

JASPER, Ind. – Wednesday’s Vincennes University Board of Trustees meeting was the first for the 2022-23 academic year. It was also the final meeting for longtime outgoing Trustee and 1966 VU alumnus George Ridgway.

The Board honored Ridgway for his service, leadership, and dedication to VU. On behalf of the Board, VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson presented Ridgway with a framed resolution of appreciation. Ridgway has served as a VU Trustee since October 2013. He will end his term on Oct. 2.

Ridgway, (R), with Board Chair John Stachura

“There aren’t too many people who have had as many different roles and affiliations with Vincennes University as George Ridgway,” Johnson said. “He has brought tremendous insight, wisdom, and experience to the Board of Trustees.” 

As a VU alum, former professor, donor, and Trustee, Ridgway has left an indelible imprint on the University. Beginning in 1968, he taught Architectural rafting and surveying at VU for 15 years. He was named department chair in 1975. He served as the interim division chair in 1978. The following year, he earned his Architect’s Registration, received his pilot’s license, and founded the firm George S. Ridgway and Associates, which focused on historic restorations. He later obtained his Land Surveyor’s Registration and joined the Cook Group as chief architect of the Engineering & Architecture Office. Ridgway served as the chair of the National Council of Architectural Registration Board and the Indiana State Board of Architects. He has made major donations to endow VU scholarships which support students majoring in Architectural Drafting, Surveying, and Aviation Flight. He received the VU Alumni Association’s highest award, the Walter A. Davis Memorial Citation for Service, in 2009.

The Board met on Wednesday, Aug. 24, in the Center for Innovation, Technology, and Innovation at the VU Jasper Campus. The August meeting took the Trustees on a deep dive into VU’s innovative initiatives and efforts that support industry partners and students at all education levels.

Dutra e Mello, (L), with Trustees Scott Brand and Don Villwock

Paulo Dutra e Mello of Telamon Robotics and CTIM Director Jacob Berg made a presentation on VU’s Collaborative Robot (Cobot) labs. Berg noted that the state-of-the-art cobots are a game changer, and are incredibly popular with prospective students and VUJ students. Through a shared service arrangement, Dutra e Mello has been named as the first Director of the Center for Applied Robotics and Automation on the Vincennes Campus, which is funded by a Lilly Endowment grant. An open house event in the College of Technology in October will feature the new center.

VU is boosting STEM education in K-8 schools throughout Indiana with funding from a Lilly Endowment grant. In partnership with the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC) at Purdue University, VU has launched Design and Innovation Studios in multiple elementary and middle schools to introduce students to coding, robots, 3D printing, and other STEM-related education and technology. Northeast Dubois Elementary School Principal Courtney Hopf and teacher Jennifer Wright gave the Board an update on how their students engage with the cutting-edge technologies in their school’s new studio. 

Hopf thanked VU for its commitment to Hoosier youth.

“It speaks volumes that you are willing to invest in our earliest learners,” she said. “These students are knocking it out of the park. We are putting technology, engineering, and coding in the hands of six year olds. Seeing the kids’ faces light up and problem solve is just wonderful.”

The Board also heard an update from VUJ Assistant Vice President and Dean Christian Blome on the extraordinary happenings on the VUJ Campus, including the completion of $2.5 million renovation of the Administration Building. VUJ and the Patoka Valley Career and Technical Cooperative have forged a strong partnership in a variety of programs that equip high school students with in-demand skills. Blome shared the Patoka Valley partnership has introduced new pathways for Fall 2022, including Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice, Education Professions, Certified Nursing Assistant, and Human/Social Services. He also announced 23 students were recipients of Scholastic Excellence Awards, which includes full tuition in addition to a $1,000 stipend and laptop computer, and that the VUJ Foundation unanimously voted in July to renew the scholarship program for the 2023-24 academic year.

The Board received an enrollment report from Director of Admissions Ryan Barbauld. He shared that there has been an increase in the number of African-American/Black freshmen for the Fall 2022 Semester. There was also a small increase in incoming students at VUJ.

Director of Enterprise Applications Jaci Lederman, Director of Technology and Infrastructure Sean Wilkerson, and Director of IT Security gave reports on Information Technology, including an update on enhanced cybersecurity, a significant wi-fi infrastructure upgrade, a cloud phone system upgrade, and the installation of Zoom rooms at the Vincennes, Jasper, and Gibson County campuses. The Zoom smart classrooms will have 4K high-definition cameras and enhance high-quality remote learning experiences for students.

The next Board meeting is Monday, Oct. 3.