Purdue and Indiana University split joint venture at IUPUI

After five-plus decades as a joint venture, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis is taking on a new form, one that will not continue the collaborative effort between its namesake partners. IUPUI will soon have a new name and structure as Indiana University and Purdue University split IUPUI into two institutions.

The two universities announced the decision at their respective Board of Trustees meetings Friday morning, significantly reshaping a partnership that was minted in 1969 when the two institutions merged a number of programs to create the research institution in Indianapolis.

Now, in a world of higher education where mergers are becoming common, Indiana and Purue will break programs apart at IUPUI, with each institution operating independently.

The expected completion for the realignment is fall 2024, according to joint statements.

The Announcement

The Board of Trustees for each institution approved a new memorandum of understanding Friday that will fundamentally reshape the current order, essentially converting IUPUI into two different institutions on shared grounds. Indiana University will continue to own and manage the shared campus even as IUPUI breaks apart, with Indiana providing certain administrative services for both institutions and housing the college’s Division I athletics program.

Going forward, the IUPUI campus will be known as Indiana University Indianapolis. The Purdue portion of the campus will serve as an academic extension of its home base in West Lafayette, though Purdue officials have not yet decided on a new name for its extension in Indianapolis. Exactly how facilities will be divided between the two institutions has not yet been finalized.

Whether tuition will differ between home campuses and the Indianapolis location has yet to be determined. Purdue has famously frozen tuition for years, and President Mitch Daniels said Friday that students in West Lafayette will pay the same rate, though fees may differ.

“We see this not as a new regional campus, but it’s fully part and parcel of our flagship at West Lafayette—a new set of options for students, a new set of options for faculty, and certainly some new options for the employers of Indiana to engage with top talent,” Daniels said.

University leaders say the decoupling will allow each institution to play to its strengths.

“This bold move will allow us to more effectively provide the world-class higher education and research capabilities needed by the state at a time when economic and technological forces are driving an enormous change. So the new framework calls for a more energized role in Indianapolis for both universities with an even greater number of graduates who are ready to participate in our modern economy,” Pamela Whitten, president of Indiana University, said Friday.

According to details in university statements, “Purdue will assume responsibility for engineering, computer science and technology as a fully integrated expansion of Purdue West Lafayette.” Purdue aims to grow engineering, technology and computer science enrollments on the Indianapolis campus and also sees opportunities to create internships or cooperative work arrangements, connecting current students in West Lafayette with employers in Indianapolis.

Purdue aims to open a branch of its Applied Research Institute and possibly a residence hall.

Indiana will assume operations of the IUPUI School of Science—minus the computer science portion, which will go to Purdue—which aims to expand such offerings in Indianapolis. Indiana will also look to build out more science programs around its School of Medicine in the new structure.

Though the decision lacked faculty input, officials say the professoriate will be involved now.

“The vision of this new path was set forth by the presidents and the board of trustees. Several constituents across both universities, including faculty, will be heavily involved in the tactical planning to execute this vision by fall 2024,” IU spokesperson Amber Denney said by email.

Whitten said a number of task forces will be convened to help guide the transition.

The Reactions

Friday’s move caught many by surprise, including most faculty members at IUPUI.

Philip Goff, professor of American studies and president of the IUPUI Faculty Council, said that while “there has been talk of changing the structure here for decades,” he first learned about the new memorandum of understanding between Purdue and Indiana about two weeks ago in a meeting with Whitten.

“While there was no input from faculty on the MOU, there will be considerable input on what IUI looks like over the coming two years. I always want more faculty input on the front side of these decisions. That said, the task forces that will figure out what IUI will look like, done in conjunction with an IU-wide strategic plan, will consist of faculty with deep knowledge about each task area. The faculty council is already working behind the scenes to be sure that many of our faculty on standing committees that overlap with these task areas are invited to serve,” Goff said by email.

Goff added that faculty have been assured that no jobs will be lost during the transition and that employees who transition from one university to the other will retain their ranks and salaries.

Local officials at various levels of government heaped praise on the decision to split up IUPUI.

“As a university, a research institution, and a frequent civic partner, IUPUI has become a foundational Indianapolis resource. Today, as it evolves to meet the needs of a rapidly approaching future, I am confident that reputation will only deepen for residents,” tweeted Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett.

Eric Holcomb, governor of Indiana, said the realignment will be transformational.

“As Purdue and Indiana University—two of our state’s globally competitive universities—continue to focus on their individual strengths, they will also now create an epicenter for research and a training ground for future focused innovative fields to ensure students are ready for the modern- day economy. This bold move will ensure Indiana is a leader in developing the workforce of tomorrow and attracting more companies to Indiana that are on the brink of cutting-edge discovery,” Holcomb wrote in a joint statement released by both universities.

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