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IUPUI faculty vote to keep public affairs school

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The School of Public and Environmental Affairs won’t be eliminated from IUPUI anytime soon.

Faculty members at SPEA have turned down a proposal to merge with the Center on Philanthropy. The proposal would have dissolved SPEA, one of Indiana University’s top-ranked programs, from the local campus and created a new school centered on public service.

“While that concept will not be pursued, the campus is committed to developing a new school of philanthropic studies,” IUPUI spokesman Richard Schneider said in an e-mail Thursday.

As IBJ reported in February, IU administrators like the idea of turning the influential Center on Philanthropy into its own school. Currently part of IUPUI’s School of Liberal Arts, the center has a $7.4 million annual budget and an endowment worth $66.5 million.

Although the Center on Philanthropy conducts research and has created degree programs in philanthropic studies, the degrees are awarded by the School of Liberal Arts. As a free-standing school, the center could grow enrollment and attract high ratings from college-rankings publishers, according to the proposal written by Patrick Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy and SPEA deans.

SPEA-IUPUI’s 21 full-time faculty members received the merger proposal March 2 and e-mailed their responses this week. Roughly two-thirds turned it down, Schneider said.

IU administrators targeted SPEA for the merger because professors in its “nonprofit management” program already work closely with the Center on Philanthropy.

Most professors didn’t see the benefit of erasing the SPEA brand. Criminal justice professor Samuel Nunn, who opposed the merger, thinks there are other ways for IUPUI to create a school around philanthropy.

“You may be able to come up with a better plan down the road,” he said. “Folks felt like this was a shotgun marriage being forced down their throats."

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