IPFW Concerns Brought to Light at Public Hearing

By Stephanie Parkinson
By Max Resnik

September 4, 2012 Updated Sep 5, 2012 at 6:23 PM EDT

Indianapolis, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – State lawmakers are looking into big changes for Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Sen. Dennis Kruse and Sen. James Banks, who both serve on the Education Committee, say a public hearing was set for September 4 mostly because of the forced retirement of former IPFW chancellor Michael Wartell.

Tuesday multiple lawmakers and officials from Purdue, IU and IPFW spoke at the public hearing in Indianapolis addressing concerns about the governance of the Fort Wayne campus.

Wartell spoke about the challenges the faculty and administration face because of the current policies in place by Purdue. Wartell said autonomy is an option but thinks keeping the affiliations is in the best interest of everyone right now. He suggests restructuring the board of trustees, having local board members and creating a chancellor of the Purdue West Lafayette campus.

Sen. Dennis Kruse thinks allowing the managing of staffing and finances to be done locally in Fort Wayne would help create a better environment at IPFW.

Tim Sands, Acting Vice President at Purdue University, addressed the Education Committee at the hearing and explained how no research has been done on what these changes could mean for IPFW, Purdue and Indiana University.

No formal decisions were made Tuesday. Sen. Kruse says the committee will discuss what was brought up at the hearing and decide together if the state should take action on the matter.

Many students at IPFW Indiana’s NewsCenter spoke with say they are enrolled at IPFW because a degree earned would come complete with either Indiana University or Purdue University attached to it. The students also commented on the transferability of credits towards one of the aforementioned schools as well as the lower tuition costs and proximity to their homes in the area.

For these reasons, many of the students said they would prefer IPFW to remain aligned with Purdue University and Indiana University. Raiajn Mir, an international student and senior studying mechanical engineering, says a move towards independence might benefit students wanting to work in local industries but could hurt students wanting to move outside the Northeast Indiana area.

“For local students, the industries are pretty good because they will still hire them, but I think if you want to go out of state— of Indiana— or want to move out of Fort Wayne, there might be a lot of problems for the students, I guess,” he says.

Mir says a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue is prestigious, and IPFW has made that opportunity affordable.

“IPFW has small classes that benefit me and the tuition fees are really cheaper than the Purdue main campus so that’s the cost of coming to IPFW actually.”

Grace Harvey, a freshman studying business, says she likes the affiliation IPFW currently has but would not mind if IPFW became independent of its parent schools.

“If it broke off, it would have a lot more freedom in that way to just express sort of its own views on certain things and not have the cap of the other schools a little bit. It would just feel a little bit more independent as it’s just becoming a bigger school.”

Harvey also says more students are sticking with IPFW as opposed to transferring to Purdue or IU and a change towards independence could ultimately benefit IPFW.

“I think a lot of people are deciding that it's worth it to stay in the same school all four years and not transfer, and in that case, having the name of Purdue or IU wouldn't make as big of a difference.”

Close to 14,000 students are enrolled at IPFW.

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