Funding Disparity Leads To Closer Look At IPFW Governance

By 21Alive

January 30, 2014 Updated Jan 30, 2014 at 4:11 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) has the fifth largest student population among state institutions. However, the university ranks 13th out of the 14 public four-year institutions in funding per full time equivalent.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership is spearheading a comprehensive study to examine future governance options for the university in an effort to ensure IPFW has the resources it needs to position itself for future student success.

Both the Indiana Senate and House are currently considering bills that would alter IPFW's governance structure. To help legislators understand the potential impact changes could have, Indianapolis-based Policy Analytics has been contracted to perform a detailed analysis to consider models for other regional campuses and independent public universities in Indiana and examine best practices of other national university systems. The study is expected to be completed by May 30, 2014.

"We need to take a fresh and candid look at the governance of our regional campus against the best possible options to be responsive to the future workforce needs of the region's employers," said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. "As our largest and only four-year public university in the region, IPFW is integral to the economy of Fort Wayne and the communities of Northeast Indiana. We are exploring options to assure that our regional campus has the necessary resources and flexibility required for the future."

Currently, 90% of students enrolled at IPFW reside in Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio. Historically, more than 80% of the university's graduates transition directly to regional employers. By ensuring that IPFW has the autonomy to develop and expand degree and graduate programs aligned to the needs of employers in the region, the university will be better positioned to support Northeast Indiana's Big Goal. The Big Goal is one of the priorities identified through the Regional Partnership's Vision 2020 initiative. It aims to increase the percentage of Northeast Indiana residents with high-quality degrees or credentials to 60% by 2025.

"Our region's universities play a critical role in preparing our students with the skills area employers are requiring. We look forward to reviewing the study's findings," said Senate Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne).

The study will complement efforts already underway by lawmakers. Last summer, an Interim Study Committee (ISC) was commissioned by the state legislature to review and make recommendations relative to the governance and funding of regional campuses. A study of the region's workforce needs sponsored by Northeast Indiana Works, the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership was also conducted at that time at the request of the Indiana State Senate to help guide decisions regarding degree programs and regional campus governance.

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