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IPFW discusses separation from IU, Purdue

POSTED AT 12:34 AM ON Aug. 30, 2012  (UPDATED AT 10:59 AM ON Aug. 30, 2012)

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IU-Purdue University Fort Wayne might break away from its parent schools after a recent push by Indiana lawmakers.

The Select Commission on Education will hear public testimony on the issue at 1 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Statehouse.

IPFW has broken enrollment records — in the past 10 years, enrollment has grown by 28 percent.

The current enrollment of more than 14,000 students already surpasses three state colleges: Indiana State University, Vincennes University and University of Southern Indiana.

IPFW is governed by Purdue’s administration under an agreement renewed every five years. IU administration governs IU-Purdue University Indianapolis based on the same agreement.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, the next president of Purdue University, has announced he supports public discussion about the issue.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, supports the idea of IPFW becoming an independent institution, citing both the growth and alleged mismanagement.

“Many believe Purdue has not advocated well for IPFW in the past,” Kruse said. “They say the needs of the school are often ignored in Purdue’s evaluations of its finances, resources, administration and buildings. At the university’s board meetings, its regional campus is allowed little input.”

Kruse said the university’s state funding is also affected due to the focus of capital projects and funding requests on the flagship campus in West Lafayette.

“Even though IPFW is the fifth- largest university in Indiana, its state financial support is one of the lowest, year after year,” Kruse said. “If the college were to become a separate institution, it would potentially be able to receive more state funding as well as more financial support from the local community, some claim.”

Kruse speculated the solution could be as simple as a name change. Kruse said the IU and Purdue names help make degrees more sought after by students, but the regional campus receives far less funding than its namesake.

“One idea is to rename the college Fort Wayne University, Fort Wayne State University or University of Northern Indiana, allowing IPFW to become its own entity but keep its affiliation with Purdue and IU,” he said.

But students have expressed concern with either scenario.

“We already struggle with our diplomas not being as good as IU or Purdue diplomas,” former student John Regan said. “That’s getting better, but it would be a major disservice to all of the students like me who went because they wanted a Purdue or IU degree that could be obtained locally. I’d want all my tuition refunded if I couldn’t even get a Purdue-backed degree after all is said and done.”

Assistant Vice President for Purdue External Relations Chris Sigurdson was not willing to speak about whether the quality of degrees from Fort Wayne would deteriorate without the parent schools, but he stressed the importance of the name on the diploma.

“I think there is value in a Purdue degree. It’s been proven,” Sigurdson said. “A survey by the Wall Street Journal indicates that Purdue is the fourth most popular name for (job) recruiters. That’s one indication.”

 

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