Panel mulls making IPFW an independent university

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A state legislative committee leader said it is time to discuss whether the joint campus run by Indiana and Purdue universities in Fort Wayne should become an independent school.

The Legislature's Select Commission on Education is to review the governance of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne during its Sept. 4 meeting at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, the Journal & Courier reported Tuesday.

"This is about the potential of IPFW becoming more self-sufficient and more independent," said Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn. "And the possibility of independence to separate and become Fort Wayne University."

The Fort Wayne campus enrollment of 14,326 students last fall far outranked three state universities — Indiana State, Vincennes and Southern Indiana. In the past 10 years, enrollment has grown by 28 percent at IPFW, spurred by students who can commute from home and receive degrees from Purdue or Indiana, depending on the program.

Purdue oversees administration of the Fort Wayne campus, while IU handles administration of the Indiana-Purdue campus in Indianapolis that has about 30,000 students.

Walter Branson, acting chancellor at IPFW, said he wasn't surprised by the study group's focus.

"I think that it's an understandable and predictable step in the maturing of our campus … and we really don't have any idea of what the outcome of the study committee will be," Branson said.

Kruse, who represents part of Fort Wayne and is chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he believed Purdue's leaders concentrate on the university's main campus in West Lafayette and treat IPFW as an afterthought even though it is in the state's second-largest city.

"I think that is what people don't like," Kruse said. "It appears Purdue has not pushed for IPFW to get money when they are in front of lawmakers."

Kruse said it makes sense for the Fort Wayne campus to control its own budget and planning, but that he wasn't advocating for IPFW to split from Purdue and Indiana.

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