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The week ahead
State of the City : Noon Wednesday, Allen County Public Library auditorium, 900 Library Plaza
Senate Education Committee: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Indiana Statehouse. Watch online at www.in.gov/legislative; click on “Watch Indiana General Assembly live” and select “Senate Chamber”
Editorial

IPFW at the Statehouse

Banks
File photos
Bills that could affect the future of IPFW and other regional campuses across the state will receive hearings before committees at the Statehouse this week.
Mayor Tom Henry, seen giving the 2012 State of the City address, offers this year’s version on Wednesday.

Legislation that would affect Indiana colleges and universities takes center stage at the Statehouse this week. The Senate Education Committee is set to hear testimony on multiple bills, including one affecting the governance of IPFW.

That is Senate Bill 98, authored by Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City. It is a direct response to Purdue University’s decision to enforce its mandatory retirement policy when former IPFW Chancellor Michael Wartell turned 65.

The bill follows testimony on the governance of regional campuses offered to the Select Commission on Education in a hearing last fall, including charges that the flagship campus exercises too much authority over IPFW and its other regional campuses.

“There is an inherent conflict between the regional campus and the parent university,” Banks said, noting that IPFW is treated “significantly differently from other institutions” in terms of per-student funding.

“What’s good for northeast Indiana is a university that controls its own fate,” he said.

The bill would require the governance agreement between Purdue or Indiana university and its regional campuses to include certain provisions, including one that would allow a chancellor to communicate directly with the board of trustees instead of through the university president. It would also allow a regional campus to obtain approval of a new degree program directly from the Commission for Higher Education.

Another bill, authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, requires the commission to approve up to six graduate-degree programs at IPFW, in fields aligned to industries targeted for regional economic development.

Other bills on the committee’s agenda:

SB 177: Provides in-state tuition rates for qualified veterans at any state institution, within 12 months of their discharge.

SB 180: Requires state colleges and universities to submit information regarding grading practices. Banks said he believes grade inflation is a “terrible problem.”

SB 182: Requires the commission to develop a common course-numbering system to facilitate transfers among state institutions. It also gives Indiana students with an associate’s degree priority in admissions over out-of-state applicants.

The bills are among many filed this session that could have profound effects on the state’s colleges and universities and, in turn, on K-12 schools.

But lawmakers should exercise caution in adopting new policies. The biennial budget and how it treats higher education should be the top priority for their consideration.

Aqua Indiana

The fireworks expected at Tuesday’s City Council meeting have been called off – or at least postponed.

City officials and representatives of Aqua Indiana had been scheduled to present lengthy, detailed proposals on their opposing positions regarding the city’s plans to take over the southwest Allen County water utility using eminent domain. But both sides agreed the presentations would not be appropriate now considering they are in negotiations for a settlement.

In many ways, that is good news – a settlement should be better than a protracted and expensive legal battle.

State of the City

Mayor Tom Henry will give his annual State of the City speech Wednesday at the downtown library. His theme this year is “Engage, Innovate, Perform.” As is tradition, Henry will try to highlight his administration’s successes in 2012. Residents should also expect Henry to outline his plans for 2013, including revealing more proposals for Legacy Fund projects.

The event is free and open to the public. People wanting to attend should plan on arriving by 11:45 a.m. Residents unable to attend can watch live on Indiana’s NewsCenter as well as Access Fort Wayne-City TV.

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