The INSPIRE Living-Learning Center opened in 2014 with the mission of creating a diverse community of motivated, creative students wanting to make a difference.
The partnership between the Living-Learning Center and the School of Education began in 2013. Leadership within the School of Education recognized the value of providing a self-governed community where education students, faculty, and staff would have the opportunity learn with and from each other. James Damico was named Faculty Director and Judy Crow was welcomed as Assistant Director. INSPIRE began accepting applications in early 2014 for the Fall 2014 semester.
A seminar was developed to provide structure and space for discussion of issues related to learning and teaching. Students would also have the opportunity to interact with world renowned education experts and participate in special events. Programming and scholarships were funded through a generous $1 million gift from the Ford Family Fund.
Born and raised in Indiana, three generations of Fords have graduated from IU. Jean Ann Ford, who majored in education at IU, said of the gift, “Teaching is not a job, nor a career. It’s a calling, an avocation. I can think of no other more noble calling than teaching. My family is honored to be a small part in the creation of the INSPIRE Living-Learning Center.”
INSPIRE welcomed its first class of 52 undergraduate education students in the fall of 2014. Civil rights activist and former NAACP chairman Julian Bond delivered remarks at a ceremony marking the opening. Bond believed the INSPIRE students would be involved in social justice in their own way. “I became involved in all of these things, because like the young people gathered here today, I was interested in the world around me and I wanted to make it better than I’d found it,” Bond said. “That’s why I’m so happy to be here and participate in this program today. I think it’s going to create a body of young people who are committed to social justice and who will do all they can to make it happen.”