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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 9:56 am

Joint IU-Purdue study of IPFW in Senate budget plan

Niki Kelly The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers would mandate Indiana University and Purdue University to work together on a report detailing all options for the future of the IPFW campus, according to a provision in the Senate version of the biennial budget.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the measure Thursday.

The bill sets up specific guideposts for a study, and requires each university to respond to data and information requests from the other.

Purdue and Indiana must submit a report by the end of the year on a multitude of governance issues, all while under the oversight of the Legislative Services Agency to ensure progress is being made.

"I want what’s best for the future of IPFW," said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. "We need them to work together – not at odds."

Purdue University provides administrative oversight of the regional IPFW campus, with students able to receive degrees from both Indiana University and Purdue.

The proposed language also would extend the management agreement an additional year through the fiscal year ending in June 2016.

"IPFW’s got a lot of things going on. Not sure what the mission is," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville. "So we put language in to open the door for Purdue and IU to get together on discussions and see what future holds."

Long has been working behind-the-scenes on the issues for several years, and discussions became more serious in January when Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said he wants the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to change IPFW’s designation from a regional campus to a metropolitan university.

Purdue officials could not be reached for comment.

"I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, and our first impression is that this bill generally affirms the direction in which we have been trying to move," IPFW Chancellor Vicky L. Carwein said Thursday in a statement.

The language will also define exactly what a "multisystem metropolitan university" is.

The definition would apply only to IPFW and not IUPUI in Indianapolis.

It requires the Commission for Higher Education to establish performance funding metrics specific to IPFW’s student body characteristics, including that many of the students are not full-time and don’t graduate in four years.

It also permits a higher percentage of on-campus residential housing than is allowed for a regional campus; sets policies allowing for a broad array of master’s degrees and terminal professional doctoral degrees; and allows limited research opportunities.

The universities must conduct the study together including monthly meetings of representatives from each university’s president’s office in Fort Wayne with the chancellor, Legislative Services Agency, a new IPFW Community Council and the IPFW Senate.

IU and Purdue must develop qualitative and quantitative findings concerning the comparative opportunities, costs and risks of the following:

• Continuing governance of IPFW under a model similar to the current model.

• Restructuring governance with IU controlling the campus.

• Any other strategic and governance model that IU and Purdue thinks will improve IPFW.

The Legislative Services Agency, meanwhile, will conduct its own evaluation of the role and governance of IPFW with potential models. It will be due by Jan. 16, 2016.

A report commissioned last year by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership called for the formula instead to recognize student persistence while emphasizing faster degree completion.

That same report, by Policy Analytics LLC, also recommended that governance of the Fort Wayne campus be moved from Purdue to IU.

Partnership President/CEO John Sampson said the new language provides some research capability and would allow more funding for technical degrees the campus issues. 

And he believes the study involved will be much more significant than anything previous. 

"This talks about due diligence between the two campuses. And it will be overseen by LSA, which is important because the two universities are competitive at times," he said. "We need to consider what is best for the IPFW campus."

His group’s study found IU is in a better position to manage a campus like IPFW.

"This would require a study of the costs, benefits of a transfer," Sampson said. "If we pursue that what would it take to get that done?"

nkelly@jg.net