Daniel Lowery currently serves as President of Calumet College of St. Joseph College, a private four-year college nestled in the industrial fringes of the Northwest Indiana region in Whiting, Indiana. He says it feels more like a calling than a job.
Lowery, home grown in Chesterton, did not take the conventional career path. He attended Chesterton High School, obtained a Bachelors from Valparaiso University in Philosophy and History, a Masters in Business at Indiana University Northwest, a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of Illinois, Chicago and a Master’s degree from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
He worked for the Social Security Administration as manager for the Gary and Merrillville offices for 20 years. While working for Social Security, he served as Adjunct Professor for IUN. After retirement, he began working for IUN in the Business and Economics Division and served as Academic Dean for four years. In 2005, Lowery joined Calumet College as faculty in the Management Department. The following year he was promoted to Vice President of Academic Affairs. Lowery also worked for Lake Shore Television as host of the Lakeshore Focus.
Calumet College spun from St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Indiana. The Mission Statement was put forth by the Missionaries of Precious Blood, who serve as advocates for education in the urban population where youth do not have other opportunities. Lowery said the mission is very compelling to him, proudly putting emphasis on being able to serve a diverse group of students central to the mission. Students receive assistance through the Zero Expected Family Contribution, assisting families that cannot contribute. There is also Federal and State aid, Valedictory and Salutatorian honors assistance. Calumet College serves a 30% Hispanic population and a 20% African American population, a huge change from previously serving daughters and sons of Eastern Europeans.
The student population is about 1,100 students with the majority being traditional students, over 500 part timers, adults between the ages of 40 and 50 who are pursuing degree programs.
Lowery said his oldest graduate was 80 years old. He said he attended her 90-year-old birthday celebration. Graduate programs are offered in the evening.
Lowery says that Calumet College has changed over the years. Classrooms are small and the College is not looking to grow big, but to remain small filling the niche. Some on-line course work is involved and as part of the mission, international students from Central America, Australia, Nepal, England and Jamaica receive enrichment of the educational experience.
Lowery is a human billboard for Calumet College. He speaks with a deeply impressive tone about the undertaking of new tasks - the millions that will be spent in expansion of the science building within the next four years, creating state of the art classrooms, upgrades in science equipment and hiring new faculty, being part of the race to space and having the third largest program in the country. Regional development has made great contributions as well as the development of critical partnerships with Mayor Joe Stahura of Whiting and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott.
The Calumet College Board is also considering building on-campus housing. Lowery says that once housing is in place the school will be able to reach beyond 20/30 miles deeper into Lake, LaPorte and Porter Counties. If approval is received, housing could be available as early as September 2016.
Lowery also served as Executive Director for the Northwest Indiana Quality of life where he worked on public policy issues and worked with the United Way. His unique path of working with the Social Security Administration before going into higher education is all relational.
They were different, but the same, dealing with financial needs and social programs afforded him the expertise of dealing with quality programs for the poor and dealing with the quality of standards.
Lowery’s manner is both inviting and appealing to the listener as he speaks about the enrollment in criminal justice class which is taught at the Chicago Police Academy, business management classes and upcoming investments for the students they serve. Lowery says that after a few years things get stale and you have to do a restructuring reboot to keep growing and keep up with technology.
For example, this week he will travel to Madrid, Spain where he will be working on an agreement with a graduate business school on an educational program to help with the transition into teaching.
A typical day for Lowery begins at 4:45 when he reads for an hour; two or three times per week he recites at Eucharist service at St. Mary in Crown Point (where he was ordained); arrives at Calumet at 7:30 for meetings, and events for the remainder of the day. He says he makes time twice a week to spend time with his wife, Barbara (retired editor) for dinner.
Responding to the question of what was his life dream, Lowery chuckles and says that he kept waking up and things just seemed to happen. One way to make God laugh is to tell him your plan, he said. He said he was blessed to work to 40 years having opportunities and challenges present themselves. It a blessing to do good work, he added.
Lowery says he is not a micro-manager. He says the faculty is in charge of interacting with the students. He says he realizes that he is the President, the one directing the symphony, not the one playing the instruments. Calumet College is a great place that captures you after a while. I work with great academic deans and Chief Financial Officers, he said.
Lowery humbly talks about being raised with six siblings (one of whom is his twin brother, David who teaches at Penn State), by parents who did not finish high school. He says his father worked as a cement finisher and his mother worked from home as a seamstress. Cement finishing was hard on his father and it broke him down every day.
He says he appreciate his parents because they worked hard to feed seven mouths. His parents are in their eighties and live in Florida. He said a few years ago all seven children and their families were able to celebrate with their parents. It was a monumental and memorable experience because all spread out across the country.
With time still remaining on his current contract, Lowery says he cannot imagine retiring. When it comes to higher education, you do not quit. In order to stay in touch with the students, he occasionally teaches religious studies, social justice, and Catholicism.
Lowery and his wife Barbara have been married for 41 years. They have two children, son Chris who has two sons ages seven and five, daughter Amy who has three children, Madeline, age four and one-year-old twins.