Task forces will start digging into details of IPFW reorganization plan

January 29th, 2016

News Coverage:
Thursday, January 28, 2016 12:01 AM

Task forces will start digging into details of IPFW reorganization plan

By Bob Caylor, bcaylor@news-sentinel.com

Over the next few days, IPFW will assemble task forces to investigate the feasibility of a proposal to make IPFW a Purdue University campus, Chancellor Vicky Carwein said in an interview on Wednesday.

“The real hard work comes now, as these task forces begin to look at these recommendations,” Carwein said in a meeting with a group of reporters and editors at The News-Sentinel.

Less than two weeks ago, a report was released outlining a proposal for wideranging changes at IPFW. IPFW would be renamed to show that it is a Purdue campus. That name would be selected “in consultation with the community.”

Indiana University would be responsible for the medical school, and the undergraduate nursing program would be switched from a Purdue program to an IU program. If a school of public health is added to the Fort Wayne campus, IU also would be responsible for that.

That would leave a great many programs in IU’s sphere that would become Purdue programs, including business, music, history, economics, English, fine arts, political science, education and more.

Carwein said that she met with representatives of IU and Purdue on Tuesday in West Lafayette, including Purdue President Mitch Daniels. Daniels made it clear, she said, that he looks at the report as a group of recommendations to consider, not a done deal.

Carwein was part of an eight-member working group that developed the recommendations on IPFW’s future. She was one of two members of the group who voted against the report. On Wednesday, she emphasized that she voted against the report because of her strong objections to two features of the proposal.

“There are a lot of aspects of the report I fully support. My vote was not a vote against the entire report,” she said.

She objected to a proposal to divide nursing education between IU and Purdue, with IU handling undergraduate programs and Purdue graduate programs in nursing. She said she knows of no other nursing program that splits up its undergraduate and graduate education that way.

A second objection that moved her to vote against the plan was the absence of any financial commitment for big ideas it advanced, including an innovation hub centered on medical devices and an interprofessional health sciences center for IU in Fort Wayne.

“There’s no commitment of resources from anywhere to achieve the goals that are identified,” she said. “Those kinds of projects are not cheap. We’re not talking about a few million dollars here and there; we’re talking tens of millions of dollars.”

Carwein described many other parts of the proposal as opportunities, where others, particularly faculty members, have seen peril. An example is the music program at IPFW, which would become part of Purdue University under the proposal. Purdue has no music program now.

“Could we look at this as an opportunity for Purdue University in Fort Wayne to actually create a School of Music and invest in it? We’ve already got world-class faculty. We recruit top-notch students,” she said. “With some investment … we could create a School of Music. One day, in my view, it could be like a Jacobs School of Music” (at IU-Bloomington).

Carwein said that a newly defined Purdue campus in Fort Wayne would probably remain a Division I sports school, even if its enrollment is smaller. A significant recruiting adjustment may be on deck, though: She said that her understanding is that only Purdue students at Fort Wayne would be eligible to play for the Mastodons if IU and Purdue split into separately administered entities.

For now, enrollment and recruiting for the IPFW as a whole remain strong. She said admissions are up 7 percent over the same point in 2015 and up more than 11 percent compared with the same point in 2014. A point stressed in the recommendations is that students currently enrolled or enrolling next school year would be able to finish their degrees from either school as planned, she pointed out.

“Whatever change occurs, it’s not going to happen overnight. There are hundreds of details to be attended to to make this change,” Carwein said.