Sprouse hopes to build on IHCC history
OTTUMWA — New Indian Hills Community College president Dr. Marlene Sprouse says it was six or seven years ago, about midway through her current stint at the college, that she started thinking that someday she might be a community college president.
The fact she became the president at the place where she began her college career as a student, and later became the dean of the IHCC Centerville campus and, then, vice president, makes her both happy and proud.
“I have always simply followed my career as doors opened,” Sprouse said, “rather than set goals way out in the future. Typically, I just tried to be the best at the job I was in.”
The Indian Hills Board of Trustees thought enough of Sprouse’s ability to lead Indian Hills that they named her the school’s fourth president last spring. She took over her new duties this month, following the retirement of Dr. Jim Lindenmayer, who was Indian Hills president for nearly 12 years.
And what about the presidency at IHCC appealed to her?
“Being able to impact the education of so many,” responded Sprouse. “Although I don’t directly impact personal education as I might have when I was a teacher, the things we can put in place to make the educational journey meaningful and beneficial to students is very, very important to me.”
Sprouse obtained her Associate of Arts degree from IHCC after graduating from high school in her hometown of Seymour. She spent 15 years in the Albia school district, teaching high school English and speech, coaching the drama team, acting as the curriculum director and, later, serving as the high school principal.
The history Indian Hills has in the 10-county area it serves in southeast Iowa is something Sprouse hopes to build on. “There is a great culture of achievement, vision and service at IHCC,” she said. When I was a student, I only knew that Indian Hills was a place that had a good feel and where people were very willing to help. I just want people in our area to have great access and great success through their connections to IHCC. I did, and many, many others that I know did, too. I just want that to continue.”
The immediate challenges for Indian Hills come from having a population in its region that is becoming older and more widely dispersed. The college experienced a spike in enrollment to record levels in recent years as the economy went through a recession. Enrollment has now fallen back a bit, although Sprouse points out it has still increased by nearly a thousand students since 2005.
“We see a real need to assist in economic development in our area,” Sprouse said. “As a college, we need to size our operations to our enrollment and our communities, and to help students gain their educations without creating a heavy debt load after they graduate. We also want our students to graduate prepared for good jobs and to become contributors to their families and their communities.”
Sprouse follows previous IHCC presidents Dr. Mel Everingham, Dr. Lyle Hellyer and Dr. Lindenmayer.