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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

While You Were Out

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Photo credit: Dustin Keeslar

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Written by: Communicator StaffAugust 27, 2014

While students were out of school for the summer, IPFW had been under a lot of transition and public speculation. From Budget issues, questions of gaining more autonomy to the role that the university is to play in the community IPFW has been in the public eye throughout the summer.

Decrease in Enrollment Reduces Budget

On May 16, 2014 the Purdue Board of Trustees approved a spending plan for the fiscal year 2015 that included a near 3 percent decrease from $111 million to $107.9 million.

A recent decrease in enrollment at IPFW caused the budget to be reduced. IPFW’s enrollment rate has been decreasing, this after a record spike in 2009-2010. In the 2014 fiscal year IPFW experienced about a 4.5 percent decrease in enrollment. Meaning, when there are fewer students there is less tuition revenue.

“The 2.9 decrease in the budget was enrollment driven,” IPFW chancellor Vicky Carwein said.

She also said that the headlines were wrong; Purdue did not cut the university’s budget, but rather it was proposed by IPFW.

“This whole process is our normal annual budget process that all campuses at Purdue proceed through,” Carwein said. ….”We all do the same thing every single year, and at their main meeting then the trustees, we, each campus proposes it’s own budget. So the headline in the newspaper [a local Fort Wayne newspaper] was really, it was just flat out wrong and it was misleading. Purdue did not cut our budget. We proposed our budget for the 14-15 fiscal year and it was 2.9 percent less than it had been the year before.”

Carwein said that there are numerous projects in the works in hopes to spike enrollment rate again, one of which is a tuition incentive program aimed to entice students who had left IPFW after accumulating at least 60 credit hours to come back to complete their degree with a 50 percent tuition reduction.

Carwein says that this hopes to bring back students who had left after the recession began improving.

“Anytime there is a recession, people get laid off, there aren’t as many jobs, people go back to school….so what we’ve seen over the decades in this country is where there is a recession there is a blip in enrollment…and then as the economy starts to improve, and more jobs are available people then tend not to go to school, but they go back to work. And so, what you see is where there is a recession the enrollment starts to increase a little bit and then when the recession starts improving the enrollments start to go back down,” Carwein said.

The tuition incentive program, beginning this year, has attracted “maybe 30-40 students.”

She also mentioned that she hopes tuition prices do not raise, but it could happen.

“I suppose that [tuition increases] is a possibility. It’s something we have not talked about at all. … We certainty hope not. We know that students here –many of them have a lot of financial challenges, and we continue to try to put more and more emphasis on scholarships. … Tuition increases have occurred all over the country, and we would very much like to limit what we do,” Carwein said.

A Push for More Autonomy

Some community members have been raising the idea of IPFW going independent and on Monday June 16, 2014, former Indiana Governor and Purdue University President, Mitch Daniels, addressed the debate. Daniels told community leaders that IPFW would be better off staying connected to the state’s two largest universities, Indiana  and Purdue, rather than go independent.

Daniels said that IPFW’s greatest strength was that it provided students with a diploma that says “Purdue University” or “Indiana University” and that it would lose that strength if it were to become it’s own independent university.

IPFW agrees that the ties to IU and Purdue are valuable.

“What President Daniels said mirrors IPFW’s view. Our students want us to maintain our IU and Purdue connections, so that’s what we want, too. Rather than independence, we’re looking for more autonomy and local decision-making. It’ll make us more nimble in serving our students, community, and region,” John Kaufeld, chief communications officer, said.

In February, lawmakers denied a legislation that would have given IPFW this autonomy. Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, wrote Senate Bill 265 that aimed to provide the university with greater autonomy. Part of the bill aimed to distinguish IPFW as a metropolitan campus. As such, the university would not have to regard some regional campus rules as strictly, including a limitation on on-campus housing for students. Likewise, the bill would have been able to provide IPFW with new degree and doctoral programs and perhaps more students to combat the decreasing enrollment. Carwein said that there were a number of things that IPFW appreciated in the bill and, was grateful for the avocation in the legislative delegation for the university.

“The purpose of it was to bring attention to IPFW and to bring attention to the issue, and I would expect there will be other bills maybe introduced in this coming season,” Carwein said.

Carwein maintains that it is not in the best interest of IPFW to go independent.


“Different people will have different views on that,” Carwein said. “From my perspective, and talking to students, faculty and staff and in particular alumni of this campus that the value and prestige and cache of the IU brand and the Purdue brand is very, very important to people and most everyone I talk with….When you have Purdue University in the name people know who that is and that brings a lot of credibility…helps us recruit faculty, students. There are a lot of people who came here because they either want a Purdue degree or an IU degree.”


Purdue President Upsets Some IPFW Faculty

The harmonious agreements between Daniels’ statements and IPFW became strained when Daniels made comments about the role IPFW is to play in the Fort Wayne community.

During an interview Tuesday Aug. 12, on Regionally Speaking with Steve Walsh on Lakeshore Public Radio Daniels said, “The Higher Education Commission [ICHE] continues to remind folks, you’re not there to offer doctoral programs. You’re not there to do research. We have other places for that. You are there, in the regional setting, to provide an affordable option that prepares young people well for the careers that are available and the jobs that are being sought in the area where you live.”

IPFW disagreed with Daniel’s statements. On Aug. 5, 2014 members of IPFW wrote a response in the form of an email to Daniels. The email was sent from Janet Badia, Speak of the Indiana University Faculty, Andrew Downs, Presiding officer of the Fort Wayne Senate, Peter Dragnev, speaker of the Purdue University Faculty and John Niser, Purdue University Senator.


“….IPFW does not strive to be a Research I institution, but the faculty at IPFW does and should do research and other scholarly activities….While our students attend classes at a regional campus, they expect and deserve the same quality of education that they would receive at West Lafayette or Bloomington….Ending faculty engagement in research and scholarly activity will only diminish the quality of the education students receive at IPFW.”

The email further addresses that Daniel’s comments were at odds with what the ICHE Policy on Regional Campus Roles and Missions states which says “Research and scholarly activities related to faculty teaching responsibilities and local and regional needs are of special significance at regional campuses.”

Daniels Clarifies His Remarks

Daniels made clarifications to his initial statement after reading the email and replied, “My recent radio interview comment was more concise and general than it should have been as I discussed the role and importance of our distinct campuses.” He furthered to agree that research and scholarly activities “are extremely important to the needs of your local and regional economies.”

Study Suggests IPFW Would be Better Governed by IU

After the cusp of this controversy Thursday August 14, 2014 Policy Analytics, LLC, presented a study “IPFW Roles and Governance Report” commissioned by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership that suggested IPFW transfer control from Purdue to IU. Among this suggestion it also suggested that IPFW “emphasize the importance of degree completion to increase the number of students earning a bachelor’s degrees.”

IPFW released a statement in which said, “IPFW’s mission is to provide access to globally recognized degree programs that drive the intellectual, social, and cultural advancement of our students and region. In order to realize this mission, we continue our longstanding advocacy for the changes that we believe will enable us to more fully achieve our mission.

These changes include:

·         academic autonomy at the graduate level equal to what we have at the undergraduate level;

·         designation as a Multi-system, Comprehensive Institution;

·         substantive increase in our base funding as well as changes in performance funding metrics to increase alignment with our mission

·         a culture of substantive collaboration resulting in tangible academic and economic benefits for northeast Indiana.”

There are no immediate plans for IPFW to switch governess to IPFW.


By: Logan Hursh