Purdue Trustees Approve IPFW Split Despite Risk Concerns

Dec 16, 2016

Some Purdue trustees say they worry about long-term financial implications if Indiana University changes the way it offers classes.
Credit Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership / https://www.flickr.com/photos/northeastindiana/

As expected, the Purdue University Trustees have approved the broad outlines of a plan to realign Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

But unlike the vast majority of the board’s votes, Friday’s was not without its dissenters.

Some trustees worry there isn’t enough detail in the plan, outside of noting which programs are slated for elimination or for a switch from one school’s governance to the other.

Others say they’re concerned the agreement may become a financial drain on Purdue.

IPFW faculty and Purdue Trustee Gary Lehman say they worry IU – which is slated to pay Purdue for access to many classes – will simply decide to save money by offering similar classes online in the future.

“And then all of those classes that we had geared up for – all those faculty members that we have in place, that are tenured faculty members – all of a sudden don’t have any students to teach because all of the IU students are going someplace else to get that degree," he says. "What do we do then? We’ve got worse problems.”

Lehman says such a move would leave Purdue at an even bigger financial loss than the system faces now with IPFW’s declining enrollment. That’s why he cast one of three “no” votes on the proposal.

“There’s just so many items that are still yet to be decided," Lehman says. "From the standpoint of how the students are going to go back and forth, how the financial ramifications of losing those programs are going to go. And I would just like to see a little bit better balance of risk between Indiana University and Purdue University if we’re going to do this.”

Trustees Jo Ann Brouillette and Tom Spurgeon also voted against the deal.

The discussion began more than a year ago when an IU Trustee called Purdue Board Chairman Michael Berghoff proposing the split.