Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo announces today (November 25) that women's basketball has been added to its team sports program, and hires a local basketball standout as its coach.

Whitney FarrisWhitney FarrisWhitney Farris, 26, currently an assistant coach for the men's team, plans to begin recruiting almost immediately for the 2014-2015 season.

"It's a dream come true to coach in the town where I grew up, where I played basketball for so many years, starting with Little Dribblers at the YMCA," Farris said. "I look forward to the opportunity to build new traditions, starting this team at IU Kokomo."

Farris is well known among Kokomo area basketball fans. She led Kokomo High School to a 4A state championship in the 2002-2003 season, and was a four-year letter winner in women's basketball at Valparaiso University. She was IU Kokomo's sports information director before becoming assistant coach.

Todd Gambill, vice chancellor for student services and enrollment management, is happy to start the team with local talent.

"We are so fortunate to have someone of Whitney's character and ability right here, to grow a program with us," he said. "Her genuine commitment to the academic success of our athletes makes her the right person for the job. The fact she is a local product is a bonus. This is a tremendous day for IU Kokomo."

North Central Indiana's deep pool of women's basketball talent makes the sport a perfect fit for the campus, Athletic Director Brandon Podgorski said.

"There are a lot of talented players in the area," he said. "It's also a good fit because we have a men's basketball team, so they can travel together and play double headers. Whitney is the right person to take us into the future."

When Farris interviewed for the sports information director job in 2012, someone joked that maybe the campus would start a women's team, and she could be the coach.

"I didn't think it would ever happen," she said. "I still wanted to be in sports in some way. This is a dream come true."

She looks forward to recruiting in the region, and has already started attending high school games.

"I love watching basketball, so that's not a hard part of the job," she said. "This is a great area to recruit from, with some of the best pickings out there. I want to get kids who will be good students, and who want to graduate in four years. Definitely I want players who are coachable, who want to play a defensive game, who have fundamental skills, and ball handling skills."

Farris expects to sell players on the value of an IU degree. She can speak from experience, as she will complete her Master of Business Administration degree in May.

"The IU degree is a huge selling point," she said. "A lot of kids in this area want to stay close to home, and earn an IU degree. This is also an opportunity to start a program from scratch. That opportunity doesn't come along often."

She's had excellent examples of coaching to learn from, including her high school coach, Charlie Hall, and her college coach, Keith Freeman. She admires Duke men's coach Mike Krzyzewski and Notre Dame women's coach Muffet McGraw, and is gaining valuable experience working with the Cougar men's coach, Jace Thompson, this season.

Fundamentally, she doesn't expect a huge transition from coaching a men's team to coaching a women's team.

"They're all people at the end of the day," she said.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo will observe the Thanksgiving holiday this Wednesday, November 27,  Thursday, November 28, and Friday, November 29. Classes will not be in session Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and all campus offices will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Regular class schedules and office hours resume at 8 a.m. Monday, December 2.

The bookstore and the Cougar Country Café will be closed starting Wednesday, November 27. The Cole Fitness Center will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 27, and then will be closed Thursday and Friday. The IU Kokomo Library also will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Online and electronic resources are available when the library is closed, at

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Advisor. Mentor. Friend. Teacher. Leader.

IMG_7114Cathy Barnes (R) speaks with student, Ashlee Douglass (L).

Catherine Barnes earns all of those titles, in her career at Indiana University Kokomo. However, as she prepares to retire this December, she knows which word she wants to be used when people remember her.


"I am a servant leader," Barnes said. "When I came to this institution, it was to serve the population of this community, students, faculty, staff, and the people of Kokomo. I come from a long line of servants."

For 17 years, Barnes has been an integral part of the campus community, first leading diversity programs, and then becoming a trailblazer in academic advising. She believes in the power of higher education to change lives, and works tirelessly to make sure IU Kokomo students achieve their dreams.

She has been a devoted champion of students during her career, according to Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke.

"Whenever I am out in the community, parents and students stop me and thank me for Cathy Barnes," Sciame-Giesecke said. "They talk about how supportive she is of each and every student she serves. Her energy and enthusiasm for IU Kokomo and our students is contagious. We will miss her and wish her the best in her retirement."

A Kokomo native, Barnes married and moved to Los Angeles, where she and her husband owned and operated four pharmacies after graduating from Purdue. The family returned to Kokomo when her father passed away, "to be a blessing to the grandparents" by bringing their four young children to live closer.

Shortly after the move, Barnes struck up a conversation with Herbert Miller, an IU Kokomo faculty member, at the Carver Community Center's summer celebration. He urged her to apply for an open job on campus as director of campus climate.

"That was my point of entry at IU Kokomo," she said. She dealt with equity and diversity issues, and provided programming on diversity.

Later, Sciame-Giesecke, who was dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the time, asked her to be the academic advisor for the school. Barnes found her calling in that job.

"Advising is teaching," she said. "All my life I have taught. Behind the prescription counter, I taught patients how to use their medicines effectively, and how to eat to get the most from their medicines. As an advisor, I teach students how to change their behaviors and study skills, so they can be successful. Advisors help them understand their path, to understand IU Kokomo, and what is necessary for them to get a degree."

Her proudest accomplishment at IU Kokomo is developing the Office of Student Success and Advising.

"We have an organized advising team, whose sole purpose is to teach students how to navigate IU, and if they choose to complete a degree in four years, we can assist them in that process," she said. "We provide an advising scaffolding. They come to us as new students, and we have to support them a lot. As they get more experienced and comfortable, we can gradually let go of that support. Our team is committed to student success."

Barnes said the campus is a completely different place than it was when she started.

"This is a cool place to be," she said. "It's a good-looking campus. It's a fun campus. There are sports. There have always been student activities, but they've changed. We have all these new, wonderful degree programs. This campus has changed, and changed for the better."

She is especially excited about a private developer offering student housing across Washington Street, and looks forward to the day the campus will have its own residence halls.

"All of these things are making IU Kokomo a first choice college," she said. "When I started, we were a second or third choice. More students want to be here, not just for a semester or two to get a taste of college before going somewhere else, but because they want to get an IU degree in Kokomo."

Although she will not be on campus after January 1, Barnes will continue to help students through the creation of the Barnes Family Scholarship, to be given annually to an IU Kokomo student. She, her husband, and their four adult children will endow the scholarship.

"The Barnes family knows what a scholarship means to the ease of your completion, and how much more fun college can be when you don't have to worry about the debt and the expense," she said. "There's something special about doing something for an institution that has been so good to you. To be able to leave this campus with some money specifically for students, it's a plus for me."

She knows from personal experience how meaningful a scholarship is, having received one for winning a science fair when she was a junior at Kokomo High School. She used it to earn a degree in pharmacology and pharmacy science at Purdue University.

Later, each of her four children earned scholarships to pay for their college educations. Her youngest, Aaron, received a full scholarship to IU Bloomington.

"That changed our family life, and meant my husband could retire early, because we weren't paying to send another child to college," she said. "My scholarship helped me earn my degree, which gave me the opportunity to make money, and to live in Los Angeles, and own and run a business. I would never have had those opportunities without my degree."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — It is just a cup of coffee.

tornado-emilyEmily West hands out coffee. Photo provided by Emily West.

But for Emily West, that steaming paper cup is her way to help the city that has given her so much, after Sunday's tornado left devastation in its wake. She was compelled to do something, rather than stay in her own home, which was undamaged.

"I felt my time would be better put to use helping people who had no help," she said. "Here I was with my power on, and a roof over my head, and I wanted to help those who didn't have that. Kokomo has given me everything; a place to start my life, and it was time for me to give back."

West and fellow Indiana University Kokomo students Megan Riley and Dereck Pearson handed out cups of coffee to those whose homes were damaged or destroyed, and to the hundreds of volunteers working to clean up and rebuild.

"They were so grateful even for the smallest thing, like a cup of coffee," West said. "It was so comforting to them. This has definitely shown me the power of community. It is humbling and eye opening to see the place you call home, pull together in the face of disaster."

West was one of the many IU Kokomo students providing a helping hand after Sunday's tornadoes. With classes canceled Monday because of a campus power outage, student volunteers hauled debris to waiting dump trucks, swept away broken glass, read to children at the American Red Cross shelter, and comforted those whose homes lay in ruins.

Members of the Saudi Student Club quickly organized to help wherever they were needed.

"These are our neighbors whose homes were damaged, whose businesses were damaged," said Talal Al-Hammad, one of the Master of Business Administration students from Saudi Arabia. "We feel like this is our community, and we want to be of service in any way we can. We helped people salvage good items from their homes, and clear away what could not be saved."

They were shocked by the devastation, because their home country does not have tornadoes, and none of them had seen one before Sunday. He was glad they could do something, and noted that both the Bible and the Koran speak to the importance of helping one another.

"We are all human beings, with no difference between races, colors, or religions, when these disasters occur," he said. "There was a call, and we answered that call to help our neighbors."

One homeowner asked them where they were from, and when he heard they were from Saudi Arabia, asked why they were there. Club members told him they were IU Kokomo students, giving back to the community.

The man looked to the sky and said, "Thank you God," and told them he was glad they were there.

"We were pleased with the reaction," Al-Hammad said.

They also helped a fellow M.B.A. student, Brandon Driscoll, clean up storm damage at his Kokomo home.

LeeAnn Cook, Martinsville, was relieved when her apartment escaped damage in the tornado, and felt compelled to do something to help those in her adopted hometown who were not so lucky.

"Kokomo feels like home," she said. "I've never experienced this level of devastation, and I can't imagine what these people are going through. So many people have helped me while I've been here, and now it's my turn to reach out and give a hand."

She organized members of the Enactus business student organization and Phi Sigma Sigma sorority to help clean up around Hoffer Street and Home Avenue, loading debris into city dump trucks. She was touched by the response, with hundreds of volunteers working, and other people driving in to bring food and coffee.

Cook said volunteering was just the right thing to do, and she plans to offer her assistance again.

"Everyone is so appreciative of all the help," she said. "If that was my family's home destroyed, I would hope anyone who is willing and able would do what they could to help them."

Sorority members used proceeds from a recent auction to provide lunch for those staying in the Red Cross Shelter Monday, and purchased toiletries for people who lost their homes.

Chapter Archon Jessica Hatt, Kokomo, said helping with disaster relief is a way members can live their tenants of leadership and service to others.

"This is our community," she said. "This is where we live, and work, and play, this is where our families live. Everyone in our community is affected."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.