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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 3:59 pm

IPFW seeks metropolitan status

Jeff Wiehe The Journal Gazette

More advanced degrees. More high-impact programs. More funding.

Those are the major components that would come with IPFW being designated a metropolitan university instead of a regional university, something Purdue University President Mitch Daniels and the Purdue board of trustees called for Friday in a letter to the Indiana Commission of Higher Education.

If the commission makes IPFW a metropolitan university, it would be the second in the state after Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. 

"As a regional campus, there are a lot of restrictions on what we can and can’t do," said John Kaufeld, chief communications officer for IPFW.

"Becoming a metropolitan university would give us more flexibility to meet the region’s needs."

For instance, degrees in applied statistics, advanced computer and engineering and various health care and other science, technology, engineering, math and education fields could be offered if IPFW were designated a metropolitan university.

As a metropolitan university, school officials expect high-impact programs such as these those to grow by 7 percent at the bachelor’s level and 11 percent at the master’s level over the next three years, Kaufeld said.  

Also, the school could get funding for churning out graduates in certain programs – much like IUPUI, Purdue, Indiana and Ball State universities already receive.

IPFW already has 24 degree programs for which it would receive more funding per graduate if it were a metropolitan university.

During the 2013-14 school year, IPFW turned out 275 graduates with bachelor’s degrees and 36 with master’s degrees in such programs. 

That would have meant several hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra funding, Kaufeld said.

In his letter to the commission, Daniels cites Fort Wayne’s 47 percent growth in population since 1980 and the school’s emergence as the major provider for degrees in the area as reasons why it should be given metropolitan university status. 

"IPFW’s reach extends well beyond the (Fort Wayne Metropolitan Statistical Area), serving nearly a tenth of the state’s population," the letter states.

"IPFW’s primary responsibility remains undergraduate education. But the growing increasingly complex nature of the region’s economic focus – advanced manufacturing, defense, and the life- and materials sciences – calls for a broader array of master’s degrees and terminal professional degrees than currently offered."

On Friday, IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein said in a statement that by making this request, "the Board of Trustees and President Daniels have strongly demonstrated their recognition that IPFW, situated in Indiana’s second-largest city and part of the Purdue University system, is an integral part of the economic vitality of northeast Indiana and will continue to play an essential role in meeting the state’s currentâ ¯and future workforce needs."

It is not yet known when the commission will make a decision.  

As news of Daniels’ letter spread, state Rep. Casey Cox, a Republican representing Fort Wayne, lauded the move.

"IPFW should join IUPUI as one of two metropolitan campuses to reflect the unique role that IPFW plays in the Northeast Indiana region and the value that IPFW brings to its students and the community as a whole," he said in a statement. 

IPFW has more than 13,000 students enrolled.

jeffwiehe@jg.net