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The Journal Gazette

January 20, 2016 1:03 AM

Faculty vote rebuffs IPFW split

Senate unanimous, calls plan to separate school flawed

Ron Shawgo | The Journal Gazette

The IPFW Faculty Senate on Tuesday roundly rejected a proposal to split IPFW into two separate schools.

The Senate voted unanimously to send a resolution to the presidents and boards of trustees at Indiana University and Purdue University urging them to deny the measure, which would allow Purdue to control most of the academic departments.

The nonbinding resolution is in reaction to a report released last week proposing IU and Purdue divide IPFW based on each university’s strengths. Through a management agreement, Purdue oversees IPFW, though the campus offers degrees from both schools.

After a monthslong study, a working group of IU, Purdue and IPFW representatives voted 6-2 to support the proposal. IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein disclosed at Tuesday’s meeting that she voted against it. Andrew Downs, Senate president and director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, was the other working group member to oppose it.

Tuesday’s faculty vote came after about 20 minutes of discussion during a special meeting in which the resolution was the sole topic. Only one faculty member suggested more thought before rejecting the proposal outright.

In the end, through its unanimous vote, the Senate agreed the proposal to separate the school is flawed.

A working group’s report said historical trends show no substantial growth or decline in degree-seeking enrollment, the number of master’s degrees granted each year, research funding and charitable giving, all areas that affect performance of IPFW’s core mission. IPFW’s graduation rates for 2014 and 2015 rank in the middle of all Indiana state educational institutions and below comparable institutions.

IPFW political scientist Michael Wolf took issue with those findings. He said IPFW compares favorably to other IU regional campuses.

“When in context, IPFW is not showing any detrimental effects relative to the other IU campuses,” he said after the meeting. Enrollment and graduation rates viewed in context “are actually solid compared to our peers.”

Carwein noted that neither Purdue nor IU has committed to the proposal. It will require tens of millions of dollars, she said, but neither school has identified areas in which they would invest.

Under the proposal, Indiana University would maintain control of the School of Medicine and enhance its health science and medical education offerings. In those areas, IU would have sole responsibility.

Purdue University would provide and control all other programs and course offerings with an expanded focus on biomedical engineering and advanced manufacturing.

The Faculty Senate resolution cites a lack of “quantitative and qualitative findings” in the report and points to “insufficient investigation of this proposal” as reason to reject it.

Barring any legislative action, the proposal goes to the IU and Purdue trustee boards for approval, rejection or changes, said Carl N. Drummond, IPFW vice chancellor for academic affairs and enrollment management.

rshawgo@jg.net