Purdue sees big Indianapolis expansion potential from IUPUI revamp

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Purdue University President Mitch Daniels speaks during an announcement about the transformation of the IUPUI campus, on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

Purdue University says it sees big potential to grow its Indianapolis presence as part of an IUPUI revamp announced Friday that will give both Purdue and Indiana University autonomous identities in the state’s capital city.

On Friday, Purdue and IU’s boards of trustees both approved a new agreement that will rebrand much of IUPUI as Indiana University Indianapolis.

As part of the agreement, Purdue will continue to operate in Indianapolis but will do so under the Purdue name—with plans to grow enrollment in the city by at least 1,000 and likely more as well as expand or place several programs here.

“Many of us at Purdue for years have felt that we would like to have a bigger, more visible and I hope a more impactful presence here in Indianapolis, but the current structure did not permit us to do that,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said at a Friday afternoon press conference.

The changes, which Purdue and IU are describing as a realignment, are expected to be completed by the start of the 2024/2025 academic year. Because the process has just begun, many details are still being worked out.

Among those details, Purdue hasn’t yet settled on what it will call its Indianapolis operations.

But the school says it plans to open a branch of its Applied Research Institute on or near the current IUPUI campus. Purdue will also take responsibility for the engineering, computer science and technology programs at what is now IUPUI.

And Purdue and IU will also collaborate on a new biosciences engineering institute in Indianapolis.

Currently, IUPUI graduates earn either an IU degree or a Purdue degree, depending on their program of study. Under this setup, IUPUI’s enrollment includes about 5,000 Purdue students and about 26,000 IU students.

Purdue’s initial goal is to increase its Indianapolis enrollment by 1,000 students, but “I really hope it turns into much more,” Daniels told IBJ after the press conference.

Daniels said Indianapolis could be a good site for Purdue’s long-standing co-op programs, in which students gain real-world work experience by completing alternating periods of work and study.

Typically, Daniels said, participating in a co-op extends a student’s time in school an extra year because the co-op experience may involve working at a company far from Purdue’s campus.

But having a co-op site in Indianapolis, Daniels said, could allow students to complete their work experiences more quickly because both their academics and their work experiences would be in the same city.

Another potential option might be for Purdue students to spend their entire four-year college career in Indianapolis.

Either way, having an expanded presence will give Purdue the chance to offer a big-city experience to those that want it, said incoming Purdue President Mung Chiang.

“It creates exciting urban opportunities for students and faculty at Purdue,” said Chiang, who assumes that role effective Jan. 1.

Now that the realignment has been made public, Daniels said, Purdue plans to reach out to its students and get a sense for what options they’d like. “We’ll see which one has the most appeal.”

As for IU, that university said it envisions expanding its existing Kelley School of Business and IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering programs in Indianapolis.

IU President Pam Whitten said her school isn’t yet prepared to talk about what its specific Indianapolis enrollment expansion goals might be. IU will start tackling this topic, and other aspects of the realignment, next week, she said.

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8 thoughts on “Purdue sees big Indianapolis expansion potential from IUPUI revamp

  1. don’t get it. If this arrangement is really about making Indianapolis a major force in higher education and job creation, why doesn’t the State simply consolidate these universities into a single entity headquartered in Indianapolis, thereby eliminating the redundancies of two separate universities that each separately compete for state dollars? Why do we need two? Why not let not let Bloomington and West Lafayette be two regional campuses, as befitting their less urban locations, and have the great urban university in Indianapolis that Dick Lugar envisioned in 1969?

    1. Alexander –
      Agreed completely. I never understood why IUPUI wasn’t turned into an
      independent university and renamed the University of Indianapolis.
      Indianapolis would have truly benefited.

  2. To be clear, if “branding” is the issue—rather than education itself—we have a much bigger problem than partisan wars between IU and Purdue over which entity controls.

  3. The potential of the Purdue programs was never going to be reached, or even approached, as a part of an “IUPUI” because it was part of the IU system, so priorities at IUPUI have always been based on the interests of the IU system as well as IUB. Daniels deserves great credit for seeing this and taking action. Previous Purdue Presidents also recognized this potential but simply wrote off Indy because they figured there was nothing that could be done under the existing IUPUI structure. The question now is whether “IUI” will be allowed to approach its potential? Lugar deserves credit for initiating all this, but the administrative structure of IUPUI held it back. The lesson in this is that the administrative structure of organizations matter, hugely! Anyone who has been through a major corporate merger knows this. Big academic organizations are no different. The sad thing is the decades of lost potential. But on the bright side, the leadership of Purdue, IU, and the state have finally got it right, and the future for higher ed in Indy now looks much brighter.

  4. Well, a bunch of issues. As for why IUPUI never became the University of Indianapolis, look to the School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry. And somewhat to the School of Business. Those three in particular blocked the effort at every turn in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Medicine and Dentistry because they truly were the state’s respective schools for those programs, with ancillary programs at Purdue West Lafayette and Bloomington. So we offered to let them stay IU, and move the undergrad and some non-medical grad programs to U of I moniker. NO.
    School of Business because Bloomington didn’t want to lose bragging rights, as an Indianapolis campus, using its urban placement near real businesses, overtook the Bloomington school as a national leader. IU School of Education had the same issues. Didn’t even want to talk about a program focusing on urban education. Indy Law School was already outscoring Bloomington on bar exam passage rates, and offering real life internships. So that couldn’t become a U of I law school, even though it was originally the Indiana School of Law but merged into IU in 1944 and was administratively separate from Bloomington.

    At one point, as John Ryan was retiring in 1987, it was suggested the President of IU should be on the Indianapolis campus, not Bloomington, to be near the government. But that would have diminished Bloomington’s status, and so was killed.

    So, Indiana Central was assisted in taking the name University of Indianapolis so as to end that discussion once and for all. I used to have the maroon and gold flags and t-shirts designed by members of IUPUI Student Government for the U of I effort. Finally got rid of them a decade or so ago…didn’t think a museum was going to want them…

    Purdue never REALLY wanted to expand in Indy. It could have. It finally moved from 38th Street to the main campus, but never chose to dramatically expand the programming. It didn’t want students not being on main campus. Had nothing to do with being part of an IU administered campus. Purely lack of interest in developing programs in Indy. That Mitch Daniels has now seen the value derives from the changing nature of education. There is less interest in heading off to the countryside for four years, isolated from the real world. Especially the science and engineering which are in big cities. Not to mention the legislature that needs to be lobbied for funding and programs.

    So IU wins. Purdue talks of adding another 1000 students in Indy. That’s all??? Really??? That’s nothing. If Purdue is serious, it will add capacity for another 5000 or more students. If you build it, they will come. But does Purdue really want them to come to Indy? Maybe Purdue could build on the old stamping plant across the river…ELANCO was supposed to be building there…ELANCO and Purdue. Science and Agriculture; academia and business. Opportunity is there…

    I foresee a decline in the undergrad programs at the present IUPUI, especially in School of Liberal Arts, as this unfolds. Emphasis will again be on pushing the best and brightest to Bloomington, and not permitting excellence to flourish in Indy.

    1. The odd thing is that the School of Science will be under IU, not Purdue, under the new configuration. Currently the degrees for the School of Science are Purdue degrees, and students and alumni believe that a Purdue degree is more valuable to them. I suppose that the School of Science was moved to IU because of the medical and dental schools. If I were starting a university fresh, I would put the medical and dental schools under Purdue and keep the science programs with them. It’s hard to imagine a technology school without basic sciences, and they’re a lot of collaboration between science and engineering faculty. Students interested in STEM often spend a year or two deciding if they want to pursue pure science or scientific application fields. Currently the School of Science and the Engineering School even share the same building at IUPUI. The Medical School and Dental School don’t feed many students into the School of Science either, but the nursing program does. Some science students do research with faculty in medicine and dentistry, but with the move of the medical school to the Methodist Hospital campus, it will be physically separated from the rest of IUPUI. The decision to move the School of Science to IU is going to hurt recruitment and devalue the degree while leaving Purdue without basic sciences. It’ll be interesting to watch how Purdue moves forward.

    2. JO. Purdue programs will not be left without basic science. Whitten and Kleine clarified yesterday that Purdue degree students on the “IUI” campus will take all courses outside E&T and CS from IUI departments. So, math, science, etc. And I disagree with the idea that a Purdue degree carries more weight than an IU degree in the purse sciences. I’d say they are roughly equal in prestige. Plus, the substance won’t change since the faculty isn’t changing!

  5. Science to IU will allow IU to merge the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts, my alma mater, into the IU School of Arts and Sciences. IU couldn’t have Arts and Sciences in Indy because Science was a Purdue school. A way to keep IU Science students going to Bloomington rather than Indy. They likely could have worked that out with Purdue 50 years ago, but that would have meant IU students taking science from Purdue schools, and that wasn’t going to happen.