A tale of Two Chancellors: Bergland and Cohen

April 08, 2011

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness" - Charles Dickens

So wrote the Charles Dickens in his "Tale of Two Cities", written in a period of his life that saw many significant changes. So was Northwest Indiana in 1999 when Bruce Bergland arrived as chancellor at Indiana University Northwest, followed two years later by Chancellor Howard Cohen at Purdue University Calumet.

During the decade that followed, these two major universities, under the direction of Bergland and Cohen, would experience unprecendented strides in education, community and regional development, and contributions to the quality of life in the region.

Bergland and Cohen, together with their wives, Cynthia and Patti, were destined to arrive in Indiana at a crucial time in the development of both universities. The business community had been a partner in the national search teams for both chancellors, and their requests were simple - hire chancellors that will become heavily involded not only in the education of our students, but also in the communities they serve.

The search teams hit a couple of back-to-back home runs when the Berglands and the Cohens arrived, because all four became immediately immersed in the activities of Northwest Indiana. Whether it be the South Shore Arts, The Northwest Indiana Forum, or the RDA, to name but a few, the chancellors, together with their wives, were there to lend their guidance and expertise to many, many boards of directors.

Bergland, one of Stanford University's youngest PhDs, set his goal to enhance the relationship between IUN and the Northwest Indiana community. In one year, the Savannah Center Auditorium was completed and is now officially known at the Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium to honor his legacy. In 2005, the Dunes Medical/Professional Building was completed and houses the IU School of Medicine-Northwest, and in 2007, the College of Health and Human Services was established, and serves as a testimony to Bergland's dedication to IUN students and the region, fulfilling a need for highly skilled health professionals in the community.

Two years after Bergland arrived, and in the highly competitive spirit that exists between IU and Purdue, Cohen, who holds a master's and a PhD in philosophy from Harvard, arrived in Northwest Indiana, and he hit the road running.

He transformed Purdue Calumet from a commuter campus to becoming the first regional campus in the state to build campus-based, residential housing for its students. Not to rest on his laurels, Cohen soon established "experiential learning" as a graduation requirement for his students, and has succeeded in getting his students involved not only in the classroom, but also in the applied learning that occurs in a job-related field, in a real-world environment. Howard established the Center for Innovation Through Visualization and Simulation with its director Chenn Zhou, and together they have had an immediate impact on area Fortune 500 companies such as NIPSCO, U.S. Steel, BP and ArcelorMittal to name a few.

Being a proponent of applied learning, Cohen, and his Dean of Education Bob Rivers, worked with Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., and Ball State University to develop a project-based curriculum and establish Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, the first charter school in Hammond for sixth through ninth grade.

Chancellors Bergland and Cohen (and Cynthia and Patti) have had a wonderful tenure in Northwest Indiana, and their campuses and our communities are better off because of them. They leave us having reached their lofty goals, and we are most grateful for their contributions to Northwest Indiana. To see the entire article please visit:

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