IU Southeast Magazine - Summer 2014 - page 29

IU Southeast
Summer 2014 27
Paintings by Josh Bleecker, an IU
Southeast art student, decorate the
walls of Uric Dufrene’s office, a way
of showcasing accomplished work but
also to stress the point that student
achievement is important to the
university and the greater community
around it.
“The arts can help drive economic
development,” said Dufrene, who has
been the Executive Vice Chancellor for
Academic Affairs at IU Southeast for
almost a year now. The artwork in his
office changes every so often, so more
students can get some exposure.
“People want to live in places where
the arts are strong,” Dufrene said.
“Businesses want to locate there.”
In the same way, he said, strong
academic programs in the humanities,
sciences and professions are vital
because they assure companies and
organizations thinking about locating
in Southern Indiana that they will find
capable employees who are well-
prepared for leadership roles in firms
and non-profits.
Dufrene said, “I think it’s clear that the
economic development of the greater
region is definitely linked to and will be
a function of the percentage of people
with four-year college degrees.” When
businesses decide where they want to
locate, he said, they look at that number
in the same way that restaurants study
traffic flow when investigating a new
location.
Dufrene has been at IU Southeast since
1992, first as professor, then as Dean of
the School of Business. More recently,
he held the endowed Sanders Chair
in Business, and used that position
as a post from which to reach into the
community and raise awareness of the
ways IU Southeast can contribute to the
community.
He was an area resource, lecturing and
talking to members of the media, and
writing about the regional economy. “It
gave me a chance to establish contacts
and to expand our outreach,” he said.
He decided to seek the Vice
Chancellor’s post, he said, because he
thought he would be able to do more
to help IU Southeast and Southern
Indiana attract better jobs and become
an even more appealing place to work
and live.
“I enjoyed representing the campus as
the Sanders Chair, but I felt that things
I’d learned about the community and
its needs and concerns could enable me
to make a strong contribution to the
development of our academic programs
over the next few years.”
As a step in that direction, his office
has been working on ways to develop
new degree programs, scheduling
options and ways to package existing
courses to attract more students. An
example, he said, is a new “certificate
in sustainability,” that interests many
students, addressed lots of issues
relevant to the area and relies on
classes already in the curriculum.
Dufrene said he expects to continue
similar and broader efforts under Ray
Wallace, who assumes the role of IU
Southeast Chancellor on July 1.
“I have been very impressed by him,”
Dufrene said. “Much of what he
has been talking about, in terms of
increasing enrollment, expanding
classes, reaching out to the community
and offering more online classes, is
what we’ve been trying to focus on over
the past year.”
Dufrene, one of five children, grew up
in Matthews, La., Lafourche Parish.
He received his bachelor’s degree in
finance and his M.B.A. from Nicholls
State University, and his doctorate
in finance from the University of
Mississippi.
He maintains his Louisiana roots by
visiting his family “several times a
year” and by listening to online radio
programs on Saturdays and Sundays
that carry the state’s indigenous music,
including Cajun, Zydeco and “swamp
pop.”
“One of the stations is called Gumbo,”
he said. “I love it.”
Uric Dufrene, Executive Vice
Chancellor for Academic Affairs
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