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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

IPFW Split Almost Assured


Photo credit: Kody Kieler

Written by: Bernadette BeckerDecember 07, 2016

IU passed The Agreement and Plan of Realignment for Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne regarding approval of the LSA recommendations on Dec. 1, and with it came a joint statement by IU and Purdue presidents stating the agreement is expected to be passed by the Purdue Board of Trustees at their Dec. 16 meeting.

The agreement is a response to the Legislative Services Agency recommendations from Jan. 15, 2016. It affirms the LSA proposal to split IPFW into an IU school with health sciences and turn all other IU mission programs to Purdue.

“The agreement they have put forward is written in very legalistic language,” said Jeffrey Malanson, speaker of the IPFW University Senate and associate professor of history, shortly after the release of the agreement. “It’s very clear a lot of the specifics are being left to future negotiation.”

Andrew Downs, an associate professor of political science and director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, who was on the LSA working group, said many questions and criticisms of the feasibility of the split were designated “details to be worked out.”

Questions still to be decided include: Who will be eligible for sports teams when two distinct universities share a campus? Who will provide general education requirements for IU health sciences students? And how will IU students retain options for minors and double majors?

One of the more complex undertakings will be related to the transference of the library from IU to Purdue. In the “IPFW Transition from IU system-wide library network to Purdue Library System” report by Dean of the Library Cheryl Truesdell, the issues that would need to be worked out included: renegotiating contracts with interlibrary loans, subscriptions and databases; the loss of 170 databases and information from IU medical and IU law schools; changing library management systems; re-cataloguing the library and rebarcoding nearly 700,000 physical items in the library; among other issues.

One way the split could possibly simplify IPFW’s governance is by creating a sole entity responsible for tenure, compensation and retirement among faculty. Currently most faculty are Purdue paid employees with Purdue benefits even if they are in IU mission departments, which means they receive tenure through IU, according to Downs. There will be a transference of tenure of professors from one university to the other where there department will be placed if this split goes through.

With this LSA agreement in progress, its implication for USAP program cuts is still to be seen. In an email from Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Carl Drummond, he said the Oct. 18 USAP program cuts will be kept except the Women’s Study Program has been reinstated under the Political Science department. As reported previously, Drummond has stated that the cuts and the LSA agreement are linked and the USAP program cuts were made to enable the LSA split agreement. Departments to be most readily affected are those that are slated to switch universities, such as Nursing, Radiologic Sciences and Dental Assisting or the numerous IU mission programs switching to Purdue. These programs will have many alterations and curriculum realignments to IU’s standards, according to Jeffrey Malanson, speaker of the IPFW University Senate, who said that although the agreement emphasized a smooth transition for students, faculty “won’t have as smooth of a transition” because they will be figuring out how the split will affect programs.

If the Purdue Board of Trustees approves this agreement to split the campus, the agreement will go before the Higher Learning Commission and then finally the General Assembly will decide how much funding should be given for the project.

General Assembly funding is actually one of the ways the agreement can dissolve or at least change; the agreement has several options to allow the universities to withdraw. Another necessary term for the split is that all the various ancillary agreements are decided.

The final premise for the split to go through is that all matters relating to accreditation are settled. The fact that Purdue will gain a music school was a concern of many community members after the LSA recommendation release, since Purdue does not offer a music degree. According to Downs, since IPFW is independently accredited outside of the IU school of music, accreditation will just transfer and Purdue will gain an accredited music department.

While understanding the negative emotions many in the IPFW community may feel about these changes, Malanson said, “I do think there is opportunity here for new good things to happen.”

A statement from IPFW to students regarding the IU agreement said that this will not change the mission of IPFW.