UIndy Creates New Nanci Vargus Learning Resource Center

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The University of Indianapolis has announced a gift in the memory of former faculty member Nanci Vargus. The Nanci Vargus Learning Center will be established with the goal of providing UIndy students with the tools and opportunities to engage in literacy research, according to UIndy 360.

UIndy Dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences John Kuykendall said that the Nanci Vargus Learning Resource Center will be established to honor the name of Vargus. It will also honor her decades of work as an educator here at the university, according to Kuykendall

“For many years, Nanci Vargus was a faculty member here … and she inspired a new literacy format for our students and we became well known for it,” Kuykendall said. “So with her passing, we thought this would be a great way to honor her legacy.”

According to UIndy 360, the new Nanci Vargus Learning Resource Center will provide UIndy students and faculty the opportunity to explore practices in emergent literacy, engage in research and enhance teacher preparation through one-on-one instruction with children for reading development. Kuykendall said the Learning Center is focused towards education majors with the aim of developing the essential skills they will need to provide for students and generations.

According to Kuykendall, the gift was provided by Nanci’s daughter, Jilda Vargus-Adams, to pay homage to the School of Education and to encourage reading skills among students.

“Jilda approached us saying ‘I want to do something for the School of Education, in honor of my Mom,’ [and] we thought this would be a perfect way to bridge our literacy work with honoring her legacy,” Kuykendall said. “Starting this center [will allow] our children, our students, a place to go and have resources to develop their literacy skills.”

According to UIndy 360, Vargus-Adams said that as a child, her mother loved reading and the joy everyone can get from reading. Vargus-Adams said that her mother built her career with that goal in mind and endeavored to ensure that all children have access to the gift of literacy.

Kuykendall said that the State of Indiana’s literacy rates have been declining for almost a decade, so the Learning Resource Center will provide education students at UIndy with essential tools to improve this for future generations.

“The State of Indiana is really dug in deep around reading strategies, and so [UIndy] could continue to be a place where we develop a state model for literacy practice and teaching reading,” Kuykendall said.

Kuykendall said that the Learning Resource Center is something exclusive to UIndy, with similar rival education programs in the area not having such a Learning Center. Kuykendall said that UIndy is the only school within the Indianapolis area that has such facilities.

“To my knowledge, there’s not a center like this in any of the other schools of education in our city,” Kuykendall said. “So we have something that we show off to our prospective students, this will be another impressive site for the education community.”

According to Kuykendall, students should be proud that UIndy is honoring a past faculty member who built her career around literacy work in such a way. Kuykendall emphasized UIndy’s commitment to honoring those who have made significant contributions to the university in their career.

“They should be proud of the fact that the School of Education is working with students in a constructive way to enhance their literacy skills, so that they can go out and help the children in the schools be better readers,” Kuykendall said. “It really starts with our students being encouraged to read and then the Literacy Center with the Nanci Vargus Literacy Center will do that.”

According to Vargus-Adams, her mother Nanci believed teaching to be the noblest calling a person can pursue, and that teaching literacy to students would inspire them to have a love of reading. Vargus-Adams said that her mother built strong relationships with her students, and that a group of alumni would meet at Vargus’s house every few months to socialize. Vargus-Adams said that she hopes that students who did not get the opportunity to meet and learn from Nanci before her retirement will still be a part of her legacy through the Learning Resource Center.

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