IU looking to future after IPFW split

July 2nd, 2018

By Ron Shawgo | The Journal Gazette

With the former IPFW campus largely shifting to Purdue black and gold, IU will be challenged in displaying its cream and crimson.

While envisioning a single complex for all of its health science programs in the not-too-distant future, officials say outside directional signs will have IU icons pointing to current IU offices. But what color?

“So, we're having the conversation: Are they red or are they gold?” Ann Obergfell, IU Fort Wayne's associate vice chancellor of academic affairs and operations, said with a laugh. 

IU Fort Wayne officials are overseeing renovations at Neff Hall for new classrooms, labs and Student Central, “the face” of IU on campus, Obergfell said. It is a one-stop shop for admissions, bursar, financial aid, registrar, and other services. Neff Hall is on the south side of campus and one of its oldest buildings.

IUFW offers classes in dentistry, medicine and medical imaging, nursing and social work. Nursing is a new department for the school, which had been administered by Purdue under the IPFW banner.

Among some students, the IPFW split has drawn little attention.

As she sat with her mom during an IUFW orientation last month, Katie Bartrom voiced no preference for IU over Purdue. An ER nursing job is her focus. That IU and not Purdue now administers the nursing program doesn't matter, she said. In fact, Bartrom, 22, of Huntington hadn't heard about the IPFW breakup.

“They're both good schools,” said her mom, Jennifer Hubartt. “I'm just happy for her for making the choice to come back and find something that she wants to do.”

IU's programs will operate out of three campus buildings, though undergraduates will take general education courses administered by Purdue throughout campus. That likely won't change in the long term.

“Duplicating those things really doesn't make sense from a physical standpoint,” Obergfell said. “We have a fabulous partner over there that is providing excellent education. They provided it for years, and I see us continuing that.”

This fall, IU expects 300 freshmen. Another 150 are entering professional programs: 90 in medical school and 60 in social work.

Eyeing the future, Obergfell said the school is looking at new opportunities but no decisions have been made.

IUFW is working with area hospitals to determine the kind of graduates they're looking for, said Dr. Fen-Lei Chang, chairman of the IUFW executive committee and director of the IU School of Medicine-Fort Wayne.

“I think that's a big part,” Chang said. “We want to be responsive to their needs. So, we've had many different conversations already.”

On the horizon is the effort to consolidate IUFW programs into a health complex where students from various disciplines would work together in inter-professional teams. Chang sees that happening within four or five years.

A legislative study, which led to the IPFW split, recommended establishing an interprofessional medical education center next to the medical school, which sits on the far north side of the campus. The school has operated separately from the rest of IPFW.

Chang sees Parkview Randallia, where physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, social workers, nurses and doctors work together, as a model. He called developing such a center no small task, but realistic.

It would be a place for anyone interested in being a health professional, Chang said. He wants to collaborate with local industrial and health care businesses to provide students with more clinical opportunities. He also says it's important that the campus create more research.

The ability to teach students and interact with patients, from nursing, imaging and social work in a interprofessional setting is still rare, he said.

So, for anyone thinking about interprofessional programs, Chang wants them to know, “IU Fort Wayne is the place to go. And we have no traffic jam and we have a lot of parking space.”