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Purdue Calumet balances academics, sports

Updated: February 19, 2013 2:59PM



How does an expanding, flourishing athletics program relate to a university striving to strengthen its foundation of academic excellence?

That’s a question worthy of response in the wake of last week’s Purdue University Calumet news conference at which the newest head coaches of the newest athletic teams were introduced.

Dave Griffin has joined the PUC family as head baseball coach. Followers of Northwest Indiana sports recall that Griffin, a former professional player for nine years in the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees organizations, coached Bishop Noll in Hammond to an Indiana Class 2A state high school baseball championship in 2004.

They also know that for two decades, he has directed the successful, developmental Dave Griffin Baseball School in Griffith.

Heather Tarter has been appointed to build, direct, mold and shape the first intercollegiate women’s softball program in PUC history.

Tarter comes to Northwest Indiana after having spent the past four years as top assistant coach at National Junior College Athletic Association power Parkland (Ill.) College.

The former University of Northern Iowa catcher contributed to a Parkland program that during the past four seasons won 168 games and qualified twice for the NJCAA national tournament.

Both coaches will field their first squads during the 2013-14 athletic year. Those squads will increase to 12 the number of Peregrines teams, while also expanding to 200 the number of student-athletes working toward Purdue degrees while continuing their sports careers.

That’s 200 students who otherwise likely would not consider Purdue Calumet as a higher education destination because of their desire to continue their athletics careers in college.

But the impact of those PUC students goes well beyond sports.

Last fall, Purdue Calumet student athletes compiled a cumulative grade-point average of 3.02 (on a 4.0 scale). That B average GPA not only surpassed the cumulative GPA of Purdue Calumet’s overall student body, but it also represents the third straight semester in which the average grade-point average of university athletes has exceeded 3.0.

Translated, Purdue Calumet student-athletes are achieving excellence in progressing toward their Purdue degrees — and in rigorous study fields, too.

For example, among members of the men’s soccer team, which resumed intercollegiate play last fall, 10 of the 22 squad members list engineering as their major field of study. Five others are majoring in professional fields of business-management-accounting and nursing.

So, in expanding its athletics program, Purdue Calumet also is implementing a student recruitment and enrollment management strategy that is attracting serious, capable students who are intent on earning a Purdue degree.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is urging state colleges and universities to produce more graduates. Through its growing intercollegiate athletics program, Purdue Calumet is on task to do that.

At Purdue Calumet, Athletics Director Rick Costello’s motto, “Students First, Athletes Second,” is more than just words; it’s a game plan for success.

100 percent pass rate for Education Administration online grads: All 24 graduates of the first cohort class of Purdue Calumet’s Master of Science and Licensure in Education Educational Administration online program have passed the 2011-12 School Leaders Licensure Assessment Exam.

A passing mark on the national exam is required by the state of Indiana and many other states for educators to gain licensure as K-12 grade-level principals and vice principals.

Purdue Calumet’s 31-credit hour program prepares educators for the exam. Migrated two years ago to a completely online format, the program includes more rigorous course projects.

“Now, K-12 students all over the country, not just in Northwest Indiana, will benefit from having school principals who have up-to-date and effective administrative skills,” said Lynn Zimmerman, interim head of Purdue Calumet’s Department of Graduate Studies in Education and professor of education.



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