Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Waynes future remains up in the air’

April 21st, 2016

News Coverage:

April 18, 2016

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Waynes future remains up in the air

Linda Lipp | KPC News

FORT WAYNE — Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne has just launched a new branding campaign lauding the achievements of the school and contributions its graduates make to the community and region.

But how much longer IPFW will continue to operate as it has is still up in the air. Three months after a controversial governance report suggested the campus be split into two separate and distinct entities, nothing furthering, refining or revising that idea has been discussed — at least not in public.

“I know nothing — honestly,” IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein said Monday. “As I understand it, the two presidents (of IU and Purdue) are in discussion, and I’ve heard nothing other than that.”

“It’s completely back in their court at this time,” said John Sampson, executive director of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and a member of the working study group that developed the new governance plan for the campus.

The partnership’s Regional Opportunities Council, formed to help align the area’s economic development goals and priorities, was scheduled to review the plan and consider whether to endorse it at a meeting Wednesday. That meeting was not open to the public.

Sampson voted in favor of the plan, which would move the nursing department to IU’s sole jurisdiction and give control over just about everything else to Purdue, dismantling the shared campus and eliminating the IPFW name and brand.

Carwein and IPFW professor Andrew Downs, who also served on the study group, voted against the proposal.

Fort Wayne’s Dr. Mike Mirro, an IU trustee, also voted in favor of the split. He did not return a call asking for comment by this article’s deadline.

In the works for months, the new branding campaign — with the tagline, “IPFW Proud” — is not tied to the proposed governance changes, Carwein said.

The three-person oversight team that was supposed to lead implementation of the new governance plan has not met. IU President Michael McRobbie has never apppointed a representative to the team, whose other members are IPFW Vice Chancellor Carl Drummond and Purdue Provost Debasish Dutta.

“The longer it drags on, the less chance anything dramatic will happen — although that’s just my opinion,” Drummond said.

The proposed split into two individually governed branch campuses was met with widespread dismay. The IPFW faculty senate voted unanimously to urge the boards of trustees of both universities to reject it. The move of the nursing department from Purdue to IU generated particular criticism.

Nevertheless, Carwein believes, all the suggestions in the plan are still on the table.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels has asked for data from IPFW — particularly on finances, enrollments and trends in the nursing department — and IPFW has supplied it, Carwein said.

Meanwhile, the Fort Wayne campus continues to deal with student recruitment and faculty reappointments, although the indecision is taking its toll.

“There’s a lot of discomfort, that’s for sure,” Drummond said.

“We’re all under considerable stress as to, what does this mean?” Carwein said. “When’s the decision going to be made and where are we headed?”

Purdue manages the campus under an operating agreement with IU. That agreement is set to expire June 30, but could, theoretically, be extended another year while discussions continue.

On Friday, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. sent a letter to McRobbie and Daniels, asking them to do just that. And it called on representatives from the business community who would be selected by Carwein to be involved in the process.

“Our first concern is for the students of IPFW, and that they have the resources they need to obtain a quality education,” Ron Turpin, GFW board chair, said in a news release.

“The board recognizes that IPFW is a key economic driver in northeast Indiana, and we want to keep that momentum in our community.”