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William Godwin, Gary City Council President, center, with Chancellor Ken Iwama and Joanne Iwama

Helping people and students in northwest Indiana is Iwama's purpose

Contributed By:The 411 News

His energy and desire to connect with people highlighted in installation of 7th chancellor at IU Northwest

A clue to the selection of Ken Iwama as Indiana University Northwest's new chancellor came during his installation ceremony Friday afternoon.

Susan Sciame-Giesecke, chair of the search committee told how Iwama in early 2020, then a vice president at City University of New York's College of Staten Island and one of 4 candidates being interviewed for the chancellor's position showed up 2 days early unannounced and anonymously toured the campus and surrounding community.

"Unbeknownst to us, he ate at a few restaurants; talked to students, staff, and faculty," Sciame-Giesecke said. "His reason for doing that, he told us during the interview, was to see if he would be a good fit for what the university needed."

Sciame-Giesecke recalled that after the interview, the consensus among the search committee was "we better put on our running shoes."

Energy and a desire to connect with northwest Indiana's people and places is what it will take to head up the largest and most diverse of Indiana University's five regional campuses.

IU's Board of Trustees approved the search committee's selection of Iwama in April 2020 to become IUN's seventh chancellor, effective August 1, 2020. He replaced Chancellor William Lowe, who served for 10 years.

His 2020 installation was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Iwama was installed Friday by presiding Indiana University President Pamela Whitten, the first woman to hold that position.

The new chancellor said the delay worked out well. "Instead of speaking in a room full of strangers, a year later, I am enveloped in friends and colleagues."

Iwama said his purpose at the university will be helping improve the lives of people in northwest Indiana and helping students. It's a purpose he connected to the life story of his parents.

His father Morimi Iwama came to America at age 19 and had learned English from an U.S. Army master sergeant in occupied Japan after WWII. The soldier outfitted his dad with a custom made suit for the flight. An uncle in the U.S.was Morimi's sponsor.

"My great uncle knew that the U.S. would give the young man the opportunities he needed, despite he, his wife and children being incarcerated during the war at the Gila River Internment Camp in Arizona."

Those people who helped his parents are no longer here, Iwama said, "but the beautiful spirit of people helping people, people helping students exists in northwest Indiana. We are in this together."

Chancellor Ken Iwama (l-r), wife Joanne, father Morimi Iwama, and mother Midori Iwama at Friday’s installation ceremony

Story Posted:10/03/2021

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