“One university. Two great names.”
That's the tagline Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne once used to attract students. But when the campus was split in 2018, “two universities; one great name” suddenly seemed a better fit. The familiar blue and white was scrubbed for the meticulously curated Purdue branding. The cream and crimson was gone, even though IU's social work and health care-related programs remained.
For prospective IUFW students and visitors, the absence of signs, flags and other IU-related branding has been a problem. Ann Obergfell, associate vice chancellor, told The Journal Gazette's Ashley Sloboda she often hears questions about the lack of signs. Finding the university's dental clinic at Neff Hall can be a challenge for the area residents it serves, for example.
PFW and IUFW share the same Coliseum Boulevard address, but a state transportation department requirement apparently would not allow directional signs for IU programs until the university reached a minimum semester enrollment of 700 students. It has 1,065 students this fall.
The requirement is puzzling because it didn't seem to apply to the for-profit college in a North Clinton Street storefront. The now-closed National College was once awarded space on directional signs posted on Coldwater Road near Interstate 69.
Fortunately, the state belatedly installed two IU Fort Wayne signs, along Coliseum Boulevard west and east of North Anthony Boulevard.
“It was a significant step, but we believe additional and larger signage in other locations would be beneficial,” Obergfell said. “The lack of signage can add to the confusion in the community and creates a need to continue to emphasize IU Fort Wayne's presence in this local higher education space.”
She's right. Whatever campus branding agreement keeps IU signs and flags off the Coliseum Boulevard site looks like a petty turf battle. Serving prospective students, the community and campus visitors should be the foremost concern, and that means making it clear that IUFW programs exist there. To do so would not diminish Purdue's dominant role on the campus.
As the IPFW slogan suggested, its students and all northeast Indiana residents recognized the value of having two great universities on one campus. Purdue gains nothing by obscuring IU's presence. Make it easier to find IU Fort Wayne.