INDIANAPOLIS – The political muscle behind the move to shake up the governance model of IPFW is defending Chancellor Vicky Carwein against blame for what he calls unrelated program cuts and changes.
"I feel she was dealt a very difficult hand," said Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne. "It’s not fair to judge her for not sticking up for the campus when in fact these changes have been ordered by Purdue and IU."
The statement came after a Monday vote of no confidence in Carwein by the IPFW Faculty Senate.
Indiana University and Purdue have an agreement to run IPFW, with Purdue providing administrative oversight.
In October, IPFW announced the departments of geology, philosophy and women’s studies will be eliminated Jan. 1. Degree programs in French and German are among those to end. In addition, some departments will be merged. Degree programs in environmental geology and environmental policy have already been eliminated.
Long made a distinction between those changes and the issue of IPFW’s long-term future that has been simmering for several years.
"Apples and oranges," he said. "I understand why it might blend together for a lot of people."
Andrew Downs, associate professor of political science and speaker of the IU faculty, said the program changes were the result of an internal process evaluating all academic programs – a process that started before a legislative study released in January suggested a partial split of the campus.
But they became connected when IU and Purdue trustees referred to IPFW’s University Strategic Alignment Process work in an interim management agreement extension in June, Downs said.
The January recommendation from a Legislative Services Agency study would split IPFW into two schools based on Indiana’s and Purdue’s strengths. IU would oversee medical and health programs, while Purdue would oversee the remaining programs.
The trustees of Purdue and Indiana universities voted in June to extend their IPFW management agreement for five years and put off any decision to realign the school until December.
Long said action could come in the next few weeks as both the IU and Purdue boards of trustees are set to meet, though he said details are still being worked out.
He said the legislature may have a role to play financially in any governance changes, especially if the nursing program is moved from Purdue to IU, costing Purdue $5 million in revenue.
"IU has an aggressive plan to build out its health sciences center and system there," Long said. "Purdue has yet to show exactly where they are going to try to take the campus."
Downs said he was on the legislative panel that considered the issue of governance and it was apparent that the surprise proposal was generated by IU. He said Purdue hasn’t articulated its vision for the campus, including targeting programs for growth, as IU has.
Long said it’s unfortunate that Carwein is "caught in the middle."
"I feel badly for her, but this is a painful process with regard to the restructuring," he said.
He said Carwein arrived at the campus after the messy forced retirement of former Chancellor Michael Wartell, has had to confront the governance issue and was slapped in the face with financial deficits that she inherited.
"I think she has shown a lot of courage for standing up for what she thinks is the right thing to do, and I feel badly for her that she’s gotten a no-confidence vote," Long said. "I think she deserved better. It’s just a sign of the times. There’s a lot of unrest and upset with change, and she’s the person they are taking it out on."
He also said he saw Carwein as a "transition person" who will likely leave in 2017 or 2018. But Downs said she has been in her job for five years – much longer than a transition-length tenure.