Daniels: IPFW better off staying under Purdue

(WISH Photo, file)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels believes Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne is better off staying connected to the state’s two largest universities than becoming independent.

The former Indiana governor told community leaders on Monday that the biggest strength of the university with more than 13,000 students is its ability to award a diploma that says “Purdue University” or “Indiana University” — something it would lose if it were to break away, The Journal Gazette reported.

Purdue now runs the joint Indiana-Purdue campus in Fort Wayne.

“I don’t have a hard, thick view of this,” Daniels said. “I’m for what the community decides is best for it, and I’m respectful of what the Commission on Higher Education thinks the role of regional campuses should be.”

Two years ago, before Daniels became university president, Purdue’s board of trustees enforced the university’s policy requiring administrators in high policy-making positions to retire at the end of the fiscal year in which they turn 65, forcing Chancellor Michael Wartell to retire. Seven times previously, the university had granted exceptions.

After that, area legislators started pushing for more autonomy for IPFW, a move that has continued, with some saying Purdue exerts too much control from West Lafayette.

Daniels concedes the entire Purdue system could work better, saying faculty has not worked well together across campuses. He said he’s trying to change that.

“There are regional meetings between faculty that didn’t used to happen,” he said. “And we’re trying to address little, nagging problems that have existed.”

Daniels said the regional campuses are important not just to the Purdue system, but also to higher education for the entire state.

“I tell people, if you have questions, go to a regional commencement,” he said. “You get everything – there’s students who could never afford it if they couldn’t stay home and attend, nontraditional students – it’s just a whole spectrum.”

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