On the sprawling urban campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Zebulun Davenport has one of the more difficult jobs. A vice chancellor, he is tasked with putting together all the pieces needed to keep a diverse body of students in school long enough to graduate.
Based on history, most won't. Less than 15 percent of IUPUI's undergraduates earn a degree in four years; less than 40 percent will get one in six.
All of Indiana's public colleges and universities have lower than desired graduation rates, though IUPUI faces some special challenges.
Many of its students are working to support themselves or family while attending college. And about 45 percent of IUPUI students fall in the category of "first generation" - the children of parents who never went to college or never finished.
It's that first-generation demographic that may hold the key to Indiana's future.
A recent report by the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation found Indiana was in the bottom tier of states with residents holding college degrees. That puts the state at a distinct disadvantage for attracting the high-skill, high-wage jobs needed to boost the state's per capita income, which has been stagnant for a decade.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.