Four generations of Fosters—the late John B. Foster, Randall E. Foster (BS’81), Jamie Foster Parker (BS’02), and freshman Alexandra Foster—have all attended IU South Bend.
Each generation experienced a very different IU South Bend campus: from the earliest years, when IU South Bend had only one building, to today where students enjoy a traditional college campus with multiple classroom buildings, athletic facilities, a library, and student housing. Although the physical campus has changed over the years, the value of the education continues to be excellent, according to Randy Foster, president of the northern Indiana district of KeyBank, part of KeyCorp, one of the largest financial institutions in the country. “IU South Bend is the number one institution of higher learning in this region because it offers both a quality education and affordable public university tuition,” he remarked. “It’s been serving this role in our community for many years.”
Randy’s father, John B. Foster, served in the Marines during the end of WWII and the Korean conflict. In the ’60s, John attended classes at IU South Bend to enrich his professional skills. Working as a mortgage banker throughout his career, John was instrumental in helping his son get his start in banking. “My dad was one of my mentors,” said Randy. “He taught me by example. Throughout his life, Dad valued remaining strong mentally and physically.” Like his father, Randy also worked full-time and attended IU South Bend part-time. “I chose IU South Bend because of love and money,” he recalled.
“I wanted to be close to my high school sweetheart, Debbie, who today is my wife of 45 years,” he explained. “When it was time for me to go to college, there were seven children in my family, and five were college age. We had to pay for our own college educations.”
The summer following his graduation from Riley High School, Randy began working for Kaiser Jeep (now AM General) and in the fall he enrolled at IU South Bend as a fulltime student. However, after getting married Randy elected to work fulltime and attend school part-time. With his father’s help, Randy began his banking career at National Bank & Trust as a management trainee. Today, 45 years later, Randy has ascended through the ranks to lead KeyBank in northern Indiana.
Taking six to nine hours a semester while he worked full-time in banking, Randy graduated fromIU South Bend with a bachelor of science in Business. “Pursuing my degree in business while Iworked in banking management was a great start for me,” said Randy. “I was able to relate mywork environment to the classroom environment, testing some of the management theories onmy employees.”
Like her father and grandfather, Jamie also works in the banking industry. “Our family has three generations of bankers, and four generations who have attended IU South Bend,” Jamie explained. Following her graduation from Adams High School, Jamie attended Indiana University’s Bloomington campus but found she preferred to be closer to home on a smaller campus. After her freshman year, she transferred to IU South Bend and discovered the smaller class sizes and access to faculty was a better fit.
Today, working in management at 1st Source Bank, the criminal justice graduate says her degree prepared her well to work with the public. “In class we worked in small groups and teams,” she explained. “I learned to take a leadership role and facilitate the group. It prepared me well for my career in management and customer relations in banking.”
As a northern Indiana resident, and a businesswoman, Jamie also appreciates the role IU South Bend plays in educating the workforce. “To continue to grow the local economy,” she noted, “we need educated college graduates who stay and work in the area. Most IU South Bend graduates remain in this area, benefiting our businesses and supporting our economy.” Jamie’s daughter Alexandra is the fourth generation of Fosters to attend IU South Bend. Unlike her mother and grandfather, Lexie had the option to live on campus. In August, her family helped her move into River Crossing Student Housing where she rooms with three other women in Oxbow Hall. Lexie thinks she might like to major in psychology, but she’s still exploring her options.
Like most college freshmen, Lexie is very excited to start this new chapter in her life. “IU South Bend offers the best of both worlds for me,” explained Lexie. “I can experience living on campus while I go to college and still be near my family.”
IU South Bend is the number one institution of higher learning in this region because it offers both a quality education and affordable public university tuition.
The four generations of Fosters not only represent the evolution of IU South Bend but also the important role IU South Bend plays in educating and preparing generations of workers to thrive in the workforce. “None of us had any pressure to attend IU South Bend,” said Randy. “But with that being said, I’m proud of our family legacy at IU South Bend and the education it has afforded us.”