Indiana Tech: History

The History of Indiana Tech

Below you will learn about Indiana Tech's humbling beginnings and see how far the university has grown throughout the years.

The Beginnings

The beginnings of what is now Indiana Tech were modest. John A. Kalbfleisch, a former president of International Business College, founded the college in June 1930. The college was incorporated as a proprietary school by the State of Indiana on Jan. 10, 1931.

The first students were recruited by members of the corporation, officially known as Indiana Technical College, using leads from high school principals in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. At the time, there were no classes, laboratories, or even school catalogs.

Tuition in that first year was $55 per quarter, much of which was paid using the barter system. Among the items exchanged for classes were a 1929 Chevrolet, honey, chickens, brooms, and 100-pound bags of popcorn.

The school first leased, and then purchased, a former mortuary located on East Washington Boulevard across from the YMCA (where many students lived). The first classes, held in the summer of 1931, had eight students. By fall there were 139, and the winter semester enrolled 179 students. In 24 months a male student could obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical, structural, civil, or radio engineering. In 1933, the first graduating class was composed of thirteen electrical engineers.

The year 1936 saw the passing of Mr. Kalbfleisch, who died in February 1936, and the appointment of Archie T. Keene as president.

The next year, fire struck Indiana Tech in late May. Although the fire caused extensive damage to the building, it was seen as a positive event because the college was able to use insurance money to upgrade the building, classrooms, and laboratories.

The school held its first formal commencement in 1937. The Indiana Tech library was started in 1939 in the basement of the downtown building, with $200 budgeted for books.

World War II and the 1940s

During the war years, enrollment fell from 472 to 86 by the fall of 1944. The five remaining faculty members took 50 percent pay cuts and worked evenings in local industries to support the war effort. The college also held special classes to meet the needs of the military, such as refresher courses for airmen and meteorologists and mechanical drafting classes for women.

The return of servicemen from the war and the G.I. Bill® gave a large boost to Indiana Tech's enrollment. By the fall of 1948 there were 1,183 students enrolled, and the school went to three teaching shifts to keep up with the demand.

In August 1948, Indiana Tech was reorganized under state law as a not-for-profit, endowed college, and a $100,000 endowment was given to the school by its former board. A residential building next to the college was purchased and extensively remodeled into classrooms and laboratories.

The Move and the 1950s

A number of major changes were implemented in the '50s, the largest of which was a move to a new site. In 1953, Indiana Tech offered the Missouri Synod of Lutherans $1 million for 20 acres of Concordia College's campus. The official move to the new campus occurred July 1, 1957, although the first classes were held on the campus in September 1955 because of overflow enrollments at the downtown buildings.

In 1956, Charles Dana, founder of the Dana Corporation, offered a $300,000 grant for building an engineering and science facility for the campus. The Dana Engineering and Science Building was dedicated on June 14, 1958.

Indiana Tech's Alumni Association, first proposed in 1943, was incorporated in 1954. Enrollment reached its high-water mark in 1957, with nearly 2,000 full-time students. The first female graduate, Anna Reid, received a degree in chemistry in 1958.

Establishment and the 1960s

Several notable events occurred during the decade of the '60s. The college went to a four-year degree program in July 1960 and was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 1962.

The name of the institution was changed from Indiana Technical College to Indiana Institute of Technology, effective January 1, 1963. Also that year, President Keene retired after 26 years at the helm, and Edward Thoma was appointed Indiana Tech's third president.

Construction boomed on Indiana Tech's campus during the 1960s. McMillen Library was dedicated May 19, 1962, with major funding for the project coming from Dale McMillen, founder of Central Soya. The parochial high school (now the Cunningham Business Center) and the Kroger supermarket (now the Fieldhouse) were bought in 1963 for $1 million.

The building now known as Kalbfleisch Hall was built in the summer of 1963 with funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Pierson. Mr. Pierson was a longtime Indiana Tech trustee, and Mrs. Pierson was the widow of Indiana Tech founder John Kalbfleisch. A wing was added to the Dana Building, and the Alumni Quadrangle dormitories and Student Center were built in 1965.

The '60s saw the advent of the computer on the Indiana Tech campus. The university obtained the first computer in Fort Wayne, an IBM 1620, in October 1960. The area's first computer science degree program was introduced in 1969.

Hard Times in the 1970s

The early 1970s were difficult times for Indiana Tech and then-President Charles Terrell, who took over in 1972 after the resignation of Indiana Tech's fourth president, Edward Dugan. A nationwide decline in the demand for engineers resulted in a downturn in engineering enrollments - a situation that had a major impact on the university's financial well-being.

The problems did not improve until the university's sixth president, Thomas F. Scully, took over in March 1977. President Scully initiated business and College of Professional Studies programs, after which the financial position of the school gradually improved. The university has not experienced a deficit year since 1978.

Improvement in the 1980s

The 1980s saw more progress. While strengthening the engineering programs, more emphasis was placed on developing the College of Business and Arts. In 1982, the Extended Studies Division, which is now the College of Professional Studies, began offering correspondence courses for adults.

During the 1980s, the facilities at Indiana Tech underwent continuous improvement. The interior of the Dana Science Center was extensively remodeled in 1983 and 1984. The McMillen Productivity and Design Center was dedicated in 1984. Research and Development moved to the Kroger Building (now the Fieldhouse) to meet record demand for Tech-built magnet wire test instruments. Dormitory space was renovated in the Alumni Quad, and Kalbfleisch Hall was remodeled into student suites.

Following the death of President Scully, Donald J. Andorfer was appointed the seventh president of Indiana Tech in July 1985. Mr. Andorfer had been chief financial officer of the university since 1977 and served as the first Dean of the College of Business and Arts.

The late 1980s brought improvement for the College of Professional Studies with the development of innovative accelerated classes in 1987. In 1988, the College of Professional Studies established its presence in Indianapolis when it began a program for adult students there.

Expansion and growth of the 1990s

The historic Administration Building, built in 1857 at a cost of $7,000 to house a Lutheran seminary, is the oldest building in Fort Wayne still being used for its original purpose - education. The building was renamed the Seitz Center, and the formal dedication was held June 23, 1994 in honor of Indiana Tech Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus Paul W. Seitz.

A centerpiece of the campus is the Schaefer Center for Student Life, dedicated in 1990, which houses the university's dining hall and gymnasium. The Schaefer Center was named in honor of the late Edward J. Schaefer, a prolific inventor and engineer who invented the submersible motor. He was the founder of Franklin Electric Company in Bluffton, Indiana. Mr. Schaefer was a trustee who awarded the university a $5 million challenge grant following his death to be used for endowment and campus renovations. As part of that bequest, a major renovation project to upgrade the Anthony Building (now known as Cunningham Business Center) was completed in the fall of 1994.

A third campus, in South Bend, was created in 1995 to meet the needs of prospective adult students for the College of Professional Studies in north-central Indiana.

The year 1999 brought the esteemed ABET accreditation of the mechanical and electrical engineering programs as well as the beginnings of an MBA program, offered in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis through the College of Professional Studies. Also, in August 1999, a College of Professional Studies office was opened in Warsaw, Indiana.

Indiana Tech Today - A More Comprehensive University

Indiana Tech has experienced tremendous growth in the 21st century from facilities to enrollment to programs.

The physical transformation of the Fort Wayne campus that began with the Schaefer Center continued with the construction of a new residence hall. In honor of Katherine and Carl Pierson, the Pierson Center residence hall was dedicated in 2001. The Abbott Center, an administration building, was dedicated in 2001 in honor of alumnus Steven R. Abbott, B.S. 1969, a generous supporter of his alma mater. The engineering building was renovated, doubled in size, and rededicated as the Zollner Engineering Center in 2002.

On July 1, 2003, Arthur E. Snyder was appointed the eighth president of Indiana Tech. Under his leadership, academic programs have increased to meet the growing and changing needs of society and interests of students. His goal of Indiana Tech becoming a more comprehensive university opened doors for unprecedented programs such as criminal justice, elementary education, physical education, biomedical engineering, energy engineering, and organizational leadership. In 2009, Indiana Tech launched its first doctoral program, the Ph.D. in Global Leadership.

Dr. Snyder with students in library

Beyond the addition of new degree programs, Indiana Tech also implemented programs to encourage academic and professional development. In December 2003, the university was awarded a $750,000 Lilly Endowment grant that led to the creation of the Career Planning and Development Center (CPDC). It has grown substantially over the years and, today, the mission of the CPDC is to prepare students and alumni for professional and personal success by providing career exploration, programs and activities related to self-assessment, advising, and job search preparation.  In July 2008, the U.S. Department of Education approved Indiana Tech’s Strengthening Institutions proposal. The university will receive $2 million over the course of five years. Funds from the Title III grant will be systematically invested in the development of a specialized program for first year students known as Tech LEADS.  The Tech LEADS program uses learning communities, group and individual advising sessions, extra-curricular activities, and student awards to provide extra support, mentoring and resources.

In 2008, Indiana Tech entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chihlee Institute of Technology in Taiwan. This was the first formal international relationship of its kind for Indiana Tech. It presents a substantial opportunity to provide global advantages for students and faculty, and the university will seek additional international agreements in the future.

Renovation and expansion of the Fort Wayne campus also continued. Andorfer Commons, the university’s 70,000-square-foot student center, was completed in the summer of 2004 and houses the McMillen Library, the cafeteria, a student union, Magee-O’Connor Theater, a bowling alley, Tech Treasures gift shop, the Heinz and Nanalee Wegener Worship Center, and the Paul W. Seitz Conference Center. Other additions to the west side of campus in recent years include a lighted soccer field, the Labor of Love for Learning (L3) Amphitheater, Scully Square, an outdoor basketball court, sand volleyball court, and tennis courts donated by Dr. Rudy and Rhonda Kachmann.

Water feature added to campus in 2007

During the summer of 2007 the east side of the Fort Wayne campus received a generous upgrade. A life sciences lab, designed for both biology and human anatomy and physiology courses,  was integrated into the Zollner Engineering Center. The lab was later dedicated as the James and Joan Bard Life Sciences Laboratory. Also in 2007, air conditioning was added to the Schaefer Center gym, along with other numerous updates. An outdoor fireplace was constructed just south of Abbott Center and provides a convenient place for students to gather and socialize. A lovely outdoor fountain was incorporated into the center of campus, bringing more charm and ambience to the grounds. The athletic field house, formerly a Kroger grocery store, received a renovation and during Homecoming 2007 was formally dedicated as the Warrior Fieldhouse. The final touch in a long list of improvements was to return the campus to a more pedestrian-friendly environment by closing the road that previously ran through the campus.

Enrollment growth also brought the need for additional campus housing. Four residence halls have been built to accommodate this need: Yergens-Rogers Hall in 2004, Evans-Kimmell Hall in 2008, Frank & Anne Oropeza Hall in 2009, and Warrior Row in 2010. Yergens-Rogers Hall was dedicated in honor of longtime Indiana Tech benefactor Virginia Yergens-Rogers and offers independent apartment-style living for juniors and seniors. Evans-Kimmell Hall, built with a gift from former board member Michael Evans, and Oropeza Hall, built with a gift from alumnus Frank Oropeza, also offer apartment-style accommodations but with large community areas featuring pool tables, video games and large screen TVs. Warrior Row consists of three-story townhouse-style units for groups of four to six students. The increase in enrollment also created a need for additional athletic space, and the Warrior Athletic Center was built in the summer of 2010 to provide another gym for practices and intramural activities, as well as office space for coaches and restrooms and concessions for fans at soccer and lacrosse games.

Growth and expansion is not limited to the Fort Wayne Campus, however. Indiana Tech’s College of Professional Studies now has locations serving adult students in Elkhart, Fishers, Greenwood, Huntington, Indianapolis, Kendallville, Mishawaka, Munster, New Albany, Plainfield, and Warsaw. In 2007, Indiana Tech introduced the online classes and degree programs that enable students to take advantage of Indiana Tech’s flexible accelerated degree programs and earn a degree at their convenience.

To help accelerate the university's progress, a comprehensive fundraising campaign was announced in September 2008. The Momentum campaign's initial goal was $19 million. However, that goal was surpassed within the first two years of the campaign, and a new goal was announced at Homecoming 2010. The university is now striving to reach $25 million by 2012.

All of the improvements and additions serve a growing number of Indiana Tech students. In the past five years, enrollment in traditional programs has grown more than 60% to reach more than 1,000 students in 2010. Enrollment in the College of Professional Studies has also increased, with more than 4,000 students expected in 2010. In all, more than 5,000 students are looking ahead to the future of Indiana Tech.

The History of Indiana Tech Warrior Sports

Indiana Tech started its first intramural sports program in 1932 and intercollegiate sports began the next year. Indiana Tech athletic teams, first known as the Engineers, took their present name of Warriors in 1954. The first sports were softball, football and water polo. A fencing team was started in the late thirties and basketball, which has become an Indiana Tech tradition, began in the 1940s.

The men's basketball team earned its first NAIA National Tournament berth in 1965. The Warriors reached the final four of the NAIA District and Conference Tournaments four years straight (1992/93/94/95). In 1995, the Warriors gained a berth in the national tourney in Boise, Idaho for the second time in 30 years. The Warriors gained another berth in the NAIA National Tournament in 1998 after winning the Great Lakes Region Div. II Tournament. Indiana Tech again earned a tournament appearance in 2004 after being ranked eighth in the nation.

The women's basketball team, known as the Lady Warriors, has become a traditional powerhouse. The team won NAIA District championships in 1981 and 1982, the 1984-85 team was the first in Indiana to play in the NAIA National Tournament, and the Lady Warriors have since played in four NAIA National Tournaments (1992/93/94/95).

Soccer started at the school in 1952 and a team reached the NAIA National Soccer Tournament in 1981.

Baseball was re instituted in 1991. After eight years, the Warrior baseball team won the Great Lakes sectional and regional tournaments (14 games) to earn a berth in the NAIA National Tournament where they finished as runner-up. The Warriors returned to the NAIA World Series in 1999 to finish fourth in the tournament, and then solidified their reputation as a national baseball powerhouse when they returned a third year in a row in 2000 to finish third in the tourney. They increased their NAIA World Series streak to six consecutive appearances by earning berths in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Women's volleyball marked its return to Indiana Tech in 2005.  The university added men's and women's tennis in 2006, and golf, cross country and track in 2007. Men's and women's lacrosse were added to the athletic slate in 2009, with bowling to follow in 2010. Wrestling will be added in 2011.

For current news and more about Indiana Tech sports, visit the athletics web site.

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