Study Suggests Big Changes at IPFW

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The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership is suggesting major changes for Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, including switching administrative oversight from Purdue to IU. The recommendation is part of a study commissioned by the partnership to examine the future of the school. Chief Executive Officer John Sampson says the report also calls on IPFW to strengthen its engagement with the local business community to help encourage graduates to live and work in the region.

August 14, 2014

News Release

Fort Wayne, Ind. -- The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership is releasing the results today of the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Roles and Governance Study. The Partnership engaged Policy Analytics LLC to explore the governance options and funding considerations for IPFW, and the study released today provides five key recommendations for change.

The Partnership commissioned the IPFW Roles and Governance Study to gain perspective from business leadership in the region because IPFW is an integral partner in the region's mission to develop, attract and retain talent, as set forth by the Vision 2020 initiative. IPFW is also a critical component in achieving one of Vision 2020's priorities--the Big Goal , which aims to increase the proportion of residents with a degree or credential to 60%.

"IPFW plays a significant role in preparing our workforce to meet the needs of regional employers, and it is a critical partner in achieving the Big Goal," said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. "Those factors must be considered when we talk about the future of the university."

The five recommendations outlined in the study, found in the executive summary, are as follows.

• Engage in a re-engineering process. For IPFW to continue to serve as an asset for the community, it must look into streamlining programs to align with student needs and interests and the regional workforce needs.

• Emphasize the importance of degree completion. Increasing the number of students earning bachelor's degrees will help the region as it works toward the Big Goal.

• Strengthen the engagement between IPFW and the local business community. The university's Community Advisory Council should be more involved in the strategic direction for the campus, while the business community should be more willing to extend resources and expertise to the university.

• Transfer administrative oversight of IPFW from Purdue University to Indiana University. Indiana University has eight regional campuses throughout the state and the institutional infrastructure in place to administer them.

• Adjust Indiana's performance funding metrics. The state's metrics should be modified to shift their emphasis from rewarding funding based on degree completion at the four-year interval and provide incentives for faster degree completion at regional campuses. It must recognize that regional campuses like IPFW have a different student body make up than their parent campuses.

"The study identified the critical importance of increasing the level of engagement between IPFW and the business community," said Bill Sheldrake, president of Policy Analytics and a co-author of the study. "While this will take efforts from all the stakeholders in the community, the Partnership can take a leading role in improving that engagement from the business side."

During the study, six focus groups were conducted with approximately 40 members of the local business community, including IPFW graduates, collaborators on university programs and employers of IPFW degree holders. Additionally, independent interviews were conducted with area business leaders, representatives from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) and members of Northeast Indiana's legislative delegation.

The study also looked at the current governance agreement for IPFW; history of campus funding and governance; academic performance data; and policy documents from the state, ICHE, Indiana University and Purdue University.

The full IPFW Roles and Governance Study can be found on the Partnership website.

The Regional Opportunities Council, the Partnership's investor board that oversees the Vision 2020 initiative, was one of the first to step up to provide funding support for this important analysis for the future of IPFW. Additional funding support was received from employers in the region.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership was formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana. It is a public-private partnership creating business investment by generating business leads, developing product and fostering regional collaboration. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. The 10 counties of Northeast Indiana include Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. For more information, visit www.NEIndiana.com.

Source: Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership