Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Graduates listen during the IPFW 51st Commencement Ceremony at the Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday March 9, 2018. IPFW held its last commencement Wednesday with 1,712 graduates earning 1,830 degrees.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Kasey M. Price holds the American Flag during the IPFW 51st Commencement Ceremony at the Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday March 9, 2018.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette IPFW logo items are for sale at the IPFW 51st Commencement Ceremony at the Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday March 9, 2018.
Thursday, May 10, 2018 1:00 am
Big change commences
As IPFW graduates last class, a chance to reflect
A news release announcing IPFW's 51st commencement Wednesday evening not only “buried the lede,” as we like to say in the newspaper business – it missed it altogether. The event was IPFW's last commencement ceremony. That's a milestone worth noting, albeit a bittersweet one.
Yes, many commencement exercises lie ahead for students graduating from the Coliseum Boulevard campus, but Wednesday marked the last time students from the combined Purdue University and Indiana University programs were jointly honored for their academic achievements.
Effective July 1, Purdue and Indiana will split, with Purdue continuing its oversight of campus operations while also assuming oversight of all academic, research and public service functions outside of health sciences, which will become the academic mission of Indiana University Fort Wayne.
Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer presided at his first and last IPFW commencement on Wednesday. He becomes chancellor of Purdue University Fort Wayne in July.
The realignment decision followed years of a sometimes-rocky relationship between the two flagship universities. The Indiana General Assembly directed a study by its Legislative Services Agency in the spring of 2015; it resulted in a recommendation – approved by the board of trustees of each university – to separate the university programs.
While IPFW students always have earned IU or Purdue degrees specific to their fields of study, most academic programs will now be offered by Purdue. Students in IU's health programs, including nursing, will enroll in core curriculum courses offered by Purdue, but their degrees will be issued by IU.
The division process hasn't come without pain for some faculty and staff. Countless details had to be worked out with the split, and jobs have been affected, with some positions eliminated or restructured.
Fortunately, new graduates and current students have thus far seen a mostly seamless transition, and realignment doesn't appear to have scared off prospective students.
For the community, however, the split brings a sense of loss. The “two names, one great university” marketing tagline was a point of pride. Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana reaped the benefits of two widely respected schools for a half-century, along with the benefits of a hometown university in IPFW.
Even as their academic offerings continue and – we hope – strengthen, there's no mistaking a sense that “one great university” has been replaced by two regional campuses. Since ground was broken for Kettler Hall in 1963, IPFW has been Fort Wayne's university, with the bond deepening as every new building and program was added.
For IPFW's last graduating class, we wish you success here or wherever your newly earned degrees lead you. Take some satisfaction in knowing you are a special part of the community's long and rich connection to Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.