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Fort Wayne campus facing cuts after enrollment decline

May 16, 2016

Some faculty members at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne have criticized a budget-cutting plan they argue unfairly targets liberal arts programs.

A report released this month projects that IPFW could see a $2 million to $3 million revenue shortfall next year on its $110 million operating budget. That follows a January recommendation that the joint campus be split into separate schools and comes as enrollment has declined 11 percent since 2011, to 12,719 students last fall.

The report compiled by an IPFW task force proposes restructuring 13 academic departments. Nine of those are in the College of Arts and Sciences — anthropology, geosciences, history, international languages, philosophy, physics, political science, sociology and women's studies, The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne reported.

The task force recommended that IPFW focus on health science and engineering programs.

Rachel Hile, an associate professor of English and interim chairwoman of the Department of Communication, said she believed those recommendations were being driven by top administrators and were biased against liberal arts programs.

She described the report as "focusing on education as job training instead of teaching critical thinking skills that would enable a student to have multiple jobs, multiple careers."

About 100 faculty members attended a meeting last week to discuss concerns about the recommendations.

IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein said she hasn't directed the campus task force to recommend any specific cuts.

"This has been a tremendously difficult time for the faculty, for the staff, for the students, for the administration and for all of us," Carwein said. "So, bringing some closure to this would be wonderful, and it's up to the two boards of trustees. The two presidents."

Purdue currently oversees IPFW, with students able to receive degrees from either IU or Purdue.

Last year, state lawmakers created a committee to examine how the campus is run. Its recommendations included having IU directly operate health science and medical education offerings, including the undergraduate nursing program. Purdue would control all other course offerings and expand its focus on advanced manufacturing and biomedical engineering.

The separate campus task force said it is unlikely IPFW will ever have the money to pay for the more than 200 academic programs it now has and develop new ones.

"The uncomfortable fiscal reality is that the university can no longer afford to be what it has become, and after four years of cost-cutting and trimming, more substantial measures are necessary to set the campus on a new path," the report said.

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