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The Journal Gazette

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Thursday, October 11, 2018 1:00 am

PFW diploma plan has students upset

Make it Purdue, petitioners say

RON SHAWGO | The Journal Gazette

A proposed change to the Purdue University Fort Wayne diploma is raising complaints on campus.

An online petition says the diploma would display the campus name instead of Purdue University, diluting the value of a degree.

“This seemingly small change is a noticeable difference that will be considered by both graduate schools and employers looking at our C.V.s (curriculum vitaes),” the petition states. “When we joined the university, we were promised a Purdue degree.”

Nearly 500 people had signed the petition by late Wednesday afternoon.

A protest is being planned on campus at 11 a.m. today in Kettler Hall. A flyer promoting the protest reads: “Purdue West Lafayette has Decided to Lower the Prestige of Our Diplomas by Changing Their Headers to 'Purdue Fort Wayne' Instead of 'Purdue University.' Tell the Purdue Board that You Want the Degree You Paid for.”

A rally occurred last week at Purdue University Northwest in Hammond, where a similar diploma change is proposed. At that school, “Purdue University” at the top of the diploma would change to “Purdue University Northwest.”

After hearing the complaints, Purdue University Northwest Chancellor Thomas Keon announced he will ask Purdue trustees to delay adding the new wording until May 2023, so it can be phased in for a new freshman class, according to the Post-Tribune.

Purdue University trustees are expected to take up the issue when they meet in West Lafayette on Friday. On the agenda is “Ratification of PFW and PNW diplomas.”

“At this point, I do not have a copy of or know what, if anything, will change,” Purdue spokesman Jim Bush said in an email.

PFW spokeswoman Nicole Hahn said she is aware of today's protest.

“There is nothing being organized by us,” she said, referring to school administrators. “But we have seen a flyer on campus about a protest.”

The school issued this statement late Wednesday:

“The suggestion to modify the Purdue Fort Wayne and Purdue Northwest diplomas was proposed as a way to affirm more fully the identities of the campuses, both having recently completed changes in their overall structure and having adopted new names.

“Any changes to the format of Purdue diplomas must be approved by the Purdue University Board of Trustees. The board will discuss the matter at its meeting in West Lafayette on Friday.

“The diplomas conferred at Purdue's regional campuses have always made it clear that the student graduated from a place other than Purdue University in West Lafayette.”

PFW officially began in July when Purdue University and Indiana University ended their decades-long agreement.

IU now focuses on health sciences on campus, while PFW administers all other academic programs.

rshawgo@jg.net