IPFW’s restructuring plan goes into effect January 1, which means after the new year, some degrees won’t exist at the university. And that’s not the only change planned for IPFW. IU and Purdue trustees approved a plan to split the school into two separate universities.
2016 was a tumultuous year for IPFW. It started in January, when Indiana’s Legislative Services Agency first proposed splitting the university.
That’s what IPFW leadership is calling “realignment,” and it means the school could become two campuses, run separately by IU and Purdue. Indiana University would run health science degrees, and Purdue University would run all other departments.
For example, nursing students currently graduate IPFW with a degree from Purdue. But once the changes go into effect, new students enrolling in the nursing program will graduate with an IU degree. Students already enrolled in affected programs will have until 2021 to finish their current program under the university in which they started.
Many liberal arts degrees that were run by IU, like political science and women’s studies, will change to Purdue. Political science professor Andrew Downs says that while many students won’t even notice the change from IU to Purdue, other students might not be happy about this.
“For some of our students, they will be disappointed, because there are some advantages to coming out of an IU program versus a Purdue program, or being in an IU program versus a Purdue program,” Downs said.
Downs says a lot of questions remain about the split. He says three things need to be addressed before the school will be realigned: funding needs to be made available for the two schools, all accreditation needs to transfer, and IU and Purdue leadership has to agree on all of the details of the split.
That first checkpoint, funding, will be the topic of conversation in the beginning of next year. Whether or not the split makes financial sense will be decided in the upcoming legislative session. There will be budget discussions at the Indiana Statehouse in the next few months, and a decision will be made when the state’s budget is finalized in April.
The second checkpoint, accreditation, will be an ongoing process, says Downs.
“There are several bodies that accredit programs here at IPFW, and so each of them, each of those accrediting bodies, will have to be approached with some sort of an amendment to the last document they approved, or the last accreditation that we went through here at IPFW, and they will have to decide if they will continue to accredit us or not,” Downs said.
- Ancillary Details
The third checkpoint is making sure the two schools work out all of the details. Downs says this will likely be finalized in June of 2017 at IU and Purdue board meetings.
A lot of the changes are in the details. Some of those changes are small and likely won’t be noticed by the general public, like changing the numbers on courses. And the library will switch schools as well, which means every single book will be given a new barcode and label. Downs says planning for those transitions will start after the new year.
Other changes will be much more public, like possibly changing the name and mascot of IPFW. A website set up to answer frequently asked questions says there’s no specific proposal to change IPFW’s mascot from the mastodons to anything else, and it still needs to be addressed.
As far as the name of the university goes, Senate President Pro Tem David Long proposes keeping the name.
“It has had 50 proud years of existence, and the IPFW brand means a great deal to this community,” Long said.
Long, who represents Northeast Indiana in the legislature, suggests naming the schools the IU Center for Medicine and Health Science at the IPFW campus and Purdue University Northeast at the IPFW campus, or something similar.
Once the three checkpoints are met, the university will be split on July 1, 2018.
All of these changes are happening as internal restructuring changes take place. The restructuring goes into effect on January 1. After the first of the year, geology and philosophy will be eliminated. Students in those programs will technically be able to complete their degrees, but Downs says it will be difficult to do that as teachers retire, leave, or move to other departments.
“When a student two years from now, or three years from now, is needing a 3 or 400 level geosciences class, that faculty member may be teaching to a really, really small class of one or two students,” Downs said.
Women’s studies was slated for elimination in the original restructuring proposal, but faculty in that department and the political science department came up with a plan to merge the two. Now, women’s studies will be housed under political science.
So, while 2016 was a newsworthy year for IPFW, it seems like 2017 will be just as busy, if not even busier, as the university moves ahead with plans to split the school and eliminate degrees.