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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Sophia Malmquist, 19, right, joins fellow IPFW students Tuesday outside the office of Carl Drummond, vice chancellor of academic affairs, to protest the elimination of the women’s studies program. The students were from a class on gender sexuality in pop culture.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Sophia Malmquist, 19, far right, a women's studies major at IPFW, chants "Let us learn" on Tuesday with about 20 students from a Gender Sexuality in Pop Culture class outside Kettler Hall at IPFW. The women were protesting the elimination of the women's studies program, outside the office of Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Carl Drummond, who is quoted on Malmquist's sign.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:15 pm

IPFW cuts several degrees

Ron Shawgo | The Journal Gazette

Moving ahead with major restructuring, IPFW will eliminate several degree programs and departments, the campus was told Tuesday.

"It’s a sad day for IPFW," said Jeffrey Malanson, presiding officer of the Faculty Senate and an associate professor of history.

The school’s College of Arts and Sciences is most affected. Geology, philosophy and women’s studies will be eliminated Jan. 1. Degree programs in French and German are among those to be suspended. In addition, some departments will be merged.

How jobs on campus will be affected remains unclear, Malanson said. As word spread Tuesday of the changes, a group of women’s studies students demonstrated on campus. A rally and teach-in is planned for Oct. 26 and 27.

With only three credits in women’s studies, freshman Katlyn Pepple, 19, doesn’t believe she fits the threshold for students who will be allowed to finish in a department that’s closing.

"Basically, I have a month to figure out a new major, and it’s pretty stressful," she said.

The changes follow a proposal released in January from a state-mandated study that would split IPFW into two schools based on Indiana and Purdue university strengths. Purdue currently provides administrative oversight of IPFW, with students able to receive degrees from both Indiana and Purdue.

The trustees of Purdue and IU voted in June to extend their IPFW management agreement for five years and put off any decision to realign the school until December. But a meeting last week among IPFW and Purdue officials made clear that the Purdue board of trustees wanted significant changes, Malanson said.

Under recommendations from January’s Legislative Services Agency study, IU would oversee medical and health programs, while Purdue would oversee the remaining programs.

Carl N. Drummond, IPFW vice chancellor for academic affairs and enrollment management, attended last week’s meeting with Purdue trustees. In prepared statements to the Faculty Senate on Monday, Drummond said he was ordered by the trustees to implement recommendations from the "University Strategic Alignment Process," which proposed restructuring 13 academic departments.

Though an internal study, the USAP was "inexorably linked" by the trustees to the LSA report, Drummond told the group.

IU would take over IPFW’s nursing program, now under Purdue. IU also would control dental education and medical imaging. IU maintains a medical school on campus.

IU Trustee Dr. Michael Mirro of Fort Wayne has said the various IU programs would comprise a health science center.

What will happen to IPFW’s Department of Music, now under IU, is undecided.

The Purdue trustees expect as many changes as possible by Jan. 1, with the majority completed by July 1, 2017, Drummond said.

"They are not interested in a phased, multiyear approach, further study, or analysis," he told the Faculty Senate.

Tenured faculty positions are secure, although some members might have different assignments, Drummond said in a phone interview Tuesday. As for untenured full- and part-time staff, "We’re going to see some changes there." Some clerical and support staff positions will have to be eliminated as department "contraction" takes place, he added.

"We have come to a place where decisions have to be made," said Drummond, who has a doctorate in geology.

No other major adjustments are expected in the coming months, though administrative changes at the department-chair level are possible, Drummond said.

Faculty members, described by Malanson as "livid," are working on ways to make the community more aware of what’s going on, he said.

Andrew Downs, associate professor of political science and speaker of the IU faculty, said the changes lead back to what it means to be a comprehensive university and how to define financial viability and health of a school. A straight analysis, he said, might not be "the best way to look at this stuff."

The message from Purdue means IPFW is closer rather than further from separating, said Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW.

Students are in shock, said Carrie Vachon, an IPFW senior majoring in anthropology and psychology. "They can’t believe it’s really happening."

Vachon complained that student athletics are unscathed by the changes. 

Amanda Straw, an IPFW senior majoring in geology, expressed concern for classmates who will not be able to continue in the department. "I’m just completely devastated by it," she said. 

"It’s a sad situation that education is being treated like a real political pawn for power," Straw added. "It’s not the purpose of education, and I think people have lost sight of that."