Communications Manager, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College
TERRE HAUTE —
Rex Coffee. Clabber Girl. Blues at the Crossroads. St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Now, that’s Terre Haute.
A city at the crossroads of progress, the values and benefits of SMWC have trickled down into Terre Haute for nearly 200 years. “The success of the college and the success of the community is connected,” said Dottie L. King, president of SMWC. “We’re more than neighbors; we’re family.”
Only five and a half miles from the city’s bustling downtown, SMWC, a proven economic engine, plays a substantial part of the community’s livelihood. Exactly how much is this longstanding institution worth to Terre Haute? An impressive $29.4 million, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
“We have more than a thousand alums, students, faculty and staff in Terre Haute,” King said. “They lead companies, educate children, volunteer in the community and own businesses. We make an enormous difference in the Wabash Valley every day.”
The Independent Colleges of Indiana is the collective voice for the 31 private, nonprofit colleges and universities all across the state. These institutions combined pump nearly $4 billion into the Hoosier economy. During Private College Week, from July 23-27, 2012, ICI campuses across the state, including SMWC, are throwing open their doors to students, parents and anyone interested in learning more about a private college education.
Although the campus is always open to the community, “we’ll have campus tours and casual information sessions. It’s a great way for everyone to learn about the value of a Woods education and our impact on Terre Haute,” said Beth Terrell, vice president for enrollment management.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 26 parents, students and the community are invited to SMWC’s Private College Week open house — Explore Your Future.
“My family really emphasizes education, so not going to college was never an option,” said Nashville, Ind., native Sherry Bube, a Woods junior majoring in music therapy. “Attending The Woods was made possible through grants, as well as scholarships from donors who believe in the mission of the college.”
Belief in SMWC’s mission is written on many faces in Terre Haute, including Cynthia Hux Martin, board member for the Union Hospital Health Group and Union Hospital Foundation, as well as president-elect of the foundation’s service league. “I truly found my voice and my footing at The Woods,” said Martin, “I feel the college turns out exceptionally polished professionals that the business community embraces and even seeks out.”
This dedication to leadership and community service is reflected in Martin’s face each time she glances down at her Woods ring. “People know you can only get this ring if you studied at SMWC,” she said. “It is a sign of distinction.”
A flash of the ring’s gold and onyx is a special sight in Terre Haute. From business owners to corporate executives, the ring is often recognized on the hands of prominent local leaders.
“I wanted that ring,” said Lynn Hughes, executive director of the multimillion dollar Terre Haute Children’s Museum. “Becoming a Woodsie was always part of my career plan. The college pushed me to grow and learn new things.” Under her leadership, the children’s museum has become the poster child for growth in Terre Haute.
Women in the executive world often encounter gender roadblocks with respect, promotions and equal pay. Many businesses in Terre Haute benefit from Woods graduates with a superior private education combined with a women’s college confidence. “Being a woman in a man’s world you have to earn your stripes,” said SMWC graduate Ann Prox, president and CEO of Prox Inc., a manufacturing company that has supplied Terre Haute with jobs for more than 135 years. “I loved going to The Woods.”
Prox isn’t the only community leader with a deep passion for her alma mater. Darci Marchese loved The Woods so much she went twice, once for her bachelor’s and again for a master’s. “As an educator, I want to be accountable to my students each day,” said Marchese, a math teacher at Terre Haute South Vigo High School. “My responsibility is to encourage meaningful learning through a variety of techniques that appeal to a variety of learning styles.”
The economic and civic impact SMWC’s graduates have on Terre Haute is just the tip of the iceberg. Woods faculty, staff and students supply the city with clientele for haircuts, groceries, dinner or movies. When students’ families come to visit, local hotels and restaurants fill up. From Bemis to Clabber Girl, interns from The Woods provide cost-effective services for local businesses. SMWC often enlightens and entertains the community with world-renowned plays, concerts and guest speakers.
“When you really think about it, $29.4 million isn’t surprising at all,” King said. “We’re happy to open our doors to the community, especially during Private College Week, where we can showcase how a private women’s college education benefits students and the community.”
For more information on Private College Week, visit www.icindiana.org. To learn more about the Explore Your Future Open House at SMWC, visit explore.smwc.edu.