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Taylor University, Upland, IN
Monday, May 20, 2024
The Echo
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Taylor secures $250,000 grant for community development

Grant encourages community growth

Lilly Endowment Inc. recently awarded the university a $250,000 grant as part of a community development plan between Taylor University and the city of Upland. 

Taylor is working with a multidisciplinary team, Marsh Collective, to establish a comprehensive plan for the improvement of the Upland and Taylor communities. 

“Marsh Collective (is) a firm with extensive experience in community renewal projects around the country,” President Michael Lindsay said in an email update to the Taylor community. With the assistance of Marsh Collective, Taylor administration will be visiting revitalized university towns around the country to explore the possibilities of implementing the grant.

Lindsay’s email provided an update on Taylor Thrives, a strategic plan to improve the integration of Taylor and the surrounding community of Upland. The plan contains six pillars: widening the circle of learners, telling the Taylor story, developing and investing in our people, entrepreneurial energy to improve our community, ensuring excellence and affordability and serving and leading to minister to a world in need. 

Each of these pillars outline specific projects that will further Taylor’s presence within the community. Will Hagen, vice president for strategy and chief of staff, shared that the general timeline for this strategic plan will span the next five years.

Many projects have already started on campus, including the strategic investment in the health profession, which includes “developing and launching 2-4 new programs in health profession fields,” according to the strategic plan. 

Progress on these health-profession projects is reflected in the transformation of the Nussbaum science building into health-based classrooms, including those that will be used for Taylor’s new pre-nursing program.

Another example of strategic plans coming to life on campus is the Horne Academic Center, which will house film, media and entrepreneurship activities. Ground was broken for the facility in September 2022 and is forecast to finish in fall of 2024, aligning with the anticipated timeline of the project in the strategic plan document. 

The strategic plan document outlines a plan to “finance and construct a facility that showcases the film and media program,” and the Horne Academic Center is evidence of that plan in action. 

Although there are many projects in the works on campus, the Lilly Endowment grant is specifically for community-based projects, which have not yet become a reality. 

One specific section of the strategic plan details plans to make campus more entrepreneur- friendly, by “equipping Taylor students to not only seek jobs but also create them.” 

Some changes this might include are “creating a dedicated space for entrepreneurship on campus,” and “launching academic and/or summer programs for students to hone entrepreneurial skills.” 

This lean toward entrepreneurship is not new to the Taylor community, which hosts the annual Shark Tank product pitch sponsored by the Calling and Career Office. The goal when creating entrepreneur-geared content is that students will in turn create their own jobs to satisfy the needs and help revitalize the Grant County area.

To further the incorporation of Taylor and the surrounding community, Hagen and other campus officials have hosted 18 events over recent years.

“(These events were used) to gather input and feedback from a variety of constituents, including students, faculty, staff, local business and nonprofit leaders, pastors, town and state officials, and many others,” Hagen said.

Over the next five years, Taylor University will be completely transformed as campus leaders “want Taylor to thrive alongside of, not at the expense of, our local community,” the strategic plan outline said. 

The outline for the Taylor Thrives strategic plan can be found at