Purdue University President Mitch Daniels says the time is right "for a reset" at IPFW. In a joint news conference Monday on the campus, Daniels, Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein and Senate Pro Tempore David Long (R-16) discussed previously-proposed details Monday of the plan to realign the 50-year-old university into two distinct Fort Wayne institutions. Earlier this month, the IU Board of Trustees approved the arrangement. Purdue trustees are slated for a final vote Friday. Daniels told Inside INdiana Business the decision is best for the campus and region.
Daniels and McRobbie addressed a public question concerning the measures of success for the future of the institutions in Fort Wayne.
McRobbie said the agreement will allow for the potential of "substantial enhancement" in areas of strength for both schools. "The LSA (state Legislative Services Agency) report mapped out an attractive vision for higher education in Fort Wayne," McRobbie said. "With the important assistance of the Indiana legislature, Indiana University will build on our medical school’s medical education center to create a truly interdisciplinary health sciences program, which will serve the educational needs of the students of northeast Indiana, as well as contribute to the economic development of this very important region of the state."
He also took time to address what he said were rumors that IU was abandoning Fort Wayne, calling the assertions "absolutely wrong." McRobbie said "the time has come" for realignment.
"I will say that there were many times along the way when I, for one, and Purdue institutionally, would’ve been just as happy if the whole subject had come to a close and we’d simply made internal improvements and done the best we could," Daniels said about the concept of realignment. "Ultimately, it was more than persuasive that it was time for a reset here in Fort Wayne and that there were exciting possibilities if we did that wisely." Daniels continued by saying Purdue was "not exactly enthusiastic" about turning over its health sciences programs that are slated to be run in the future as IU programs, but said it was in the public and students’ interests to make the change.
Daniels added "we’ve become increasingly exciting about the possibility of new investments and new offerings suited to the next 50 years of Fort Wayne and its neighbors."
During the presentation, Long said for years IPFW had been treated as "the proverbial red-headed step-child" by the previous leadership of Purdue and IU. He said there have been long-term frustrations "that this campus could never seem to get the commitment from IU and Purdue that many believe necessary to grown the academic programs and the academic footprint at IPFW to make it the economic development engine that it should be for this region." Long said the fact that the two university presidents came together on-stage at IPFW to pledge their commitment to the campus’s future is a "very strong statement of their intentions."
Carwein said "IPFW governance has been the subject of many studies over many years. Since my arrival in 2012, the subject of continuous study. I, for one, am glad the question of who should govern IPFW has been resolved and a decision has been made. It is clearly time for us to turn our attention and our energy to the future and the opportunities that lie before us. This decision not only allows us to do that, but requires us to do so. We’ll continue to have these great universities in Fort Wayne and we look forward to capitalizing upon and leveraging the strengths of Purdue University and Indiana University to build distinguished programs in our community and the region."
The plan has not received open support from all stakeholders. Late last week, the board of the school’s alumni association came out in opposition of the agreement. A group of students was also present at Tuesday’s news conference, holding signs in protest and asking questions of the university leaders.