Jim Helms, who recently retired as Ivy Tech Community College Southeast chancellor, received special recognition from the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Jan. 30.
Dr. Jim Roberts, Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent and BACC president, announced, “Fortunately, his retirement does not preclude him from continuing to work to assist Ivy Tech as he has been assigned as a liaison with some special initiatives and the Ivy Tech President’s Office, Indianapolis. He will also become a member of the Ivy Tech Community College State Foundation Board.
Helms is completing his 51st year in education, including 16 years at Ivy Tech. “In 1998, he retired from his 35-year secondary education career as a high school principal” at East Central. Since then, he has led the college’s Southeast Region, which includes the counties of Ripley, Dearborn, Jefferson, Ohio and Switzerland.
“During Jim’s 16-year tenure ... Ivy Tech Community College had a massive, and unprecedented, growth period for enrollment, curriculum and programs. He managed the construction of three entirely new campus facilities in Madison, Lawrenceburg and Batesville, while enrollment in our region grew from around 500 students in 1998 to approximately 4,000 now!”
The Logan resident “has received much notable recognition, including being named by Cincy Magazine as one of the Tristate’s Top 100 Influential People in 2008. He received Indiana’s highest award, the Sagamore of the Wabash, from Gov. Frank O’Bannon for his career educational achievement. Further, he has been recognized in the Cincinnati Business Courier magazine and received a plaque on behalf of Ivy Tech for the college becoming the sixth largest college or university in the Tristate area.”
Roberts stressed, “I especially want to recognize Jim for his efforts on behalf of the Batesville Community School Corp. Nearly three years ago, Jim and I met to concoct a new educational system, one that would result in all Batesville High School students earning up to one year of college credit and potentially even an associate degree before their high school graduation. Jim took this idea and ran with it. His vision, his leadership, has brought about a new campus in Batesville and unprecedented opportunities for our students.
“During this first semester of the 2013-14 school year, BHS had 85 juniors and seniors leaving its facility to travel to the Ivy Tech campus and participate in 120 classes, or 360 credit hours. Our Batesville High School/Ivy Tech Community College partnership has earned a personal visit to the campus from Teresa Lubbers, Indiana commissioner of higher education, who had endorsed the program as a statewide model for other schools. Additionally, Gov. Mike Pence has stated his public support for the partnership in speeches he has given around the state.
“Jim, thank you for your dedicated years of service to education in southeast Indiana and particularly for your hard work on behalf of the community of Batesville,” the superintendent noted.
Helms reported, “I feel honored to be here .... but how do you express your appreciation to so many people? I have to recognize Mayor (Rick) Fledderman, who worked with us.”
Ivy Tech’s presence in Batesville “did get started in the old IGA building (at 920 County Line Road) .... 16 years later, we did purchase, renovate and dedicate the new Ivy Tech building in the Forethought building, which we are very proud of.
“I want to thank Jim (Roberts), (BHS principal) Andy Allen, the chamber, city, businesses, industry and every individual who stepped up. Thanks to all of them, we created a good thing for the future. I hope when we look back, we’ll say, ‘Man, that was a good move.’”
As he reflected back at the past five decades, Helms revealed, “It’s been a quick 51 years and a great career.”
He also expressed his appreciation for the recognition by saying, “I give this entire community a sincere thank you.”
Helms is married to Charlotte and has three children, Jeff, Kristan and Doug, and 11 grandchildren.
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.