Daniels asks Higher Education Commission to make IPFW 'metro' university, increase funding



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FORT WAYNE, Indiana — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels asked the Indiana Commission for Higher Education on Friday to designate Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne as the state's second metropolitan university and make it eligible for additional state funding.

Designating IPFW as the second metro university after Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis "would provide for a closer match between the nature of IPFW's degree production and the state's performance funding formula."

"In recent years, IPFW has sought to increase the percentage of its graduates earning degrees in science and technology disciplines — a trend reflective of the close relationship between Purdue's regional partners and the West Lafayette campus, with its STEM focus," Daniels wrote in a letter to Indiana Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers.

IPFW currently is designated as a regional campus, like most other Purdue branches, leaving it limited in the types of degree programs it can offer, including master's and doctorate degrees. Purdue has administrative oversight over IPFW.

"IPFW's primary responsibility remains undergraduate education," Daniels wrote. "But the growing and increasingly complex nature of the region's economic focus — advanced manufacturing, defense, and the life- and materials sciences — calls for a broader array of master's degrees and terminal professional degrees than currently offered."

The regional designation also excludes IPFW from the state's performance funding metric, which awards schools for graduating students with "high-impact" degrees in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, IPFW spokesman John Kaufeld said.

"We are already producing with those degrees," Kaufeld said. "We've got 24 programs in bachelor's and master's programs that would be eligible if we were part of the program."

IPFW last year graduated 275 students with bachelor's degrees and 36 with master's degree that would have been eligible for the performance award, which would have amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars, Kaufeld said. The campus has about 13,500 undergraduate and graduate students.

Fort Wayne, the state's second-largest city, has experienced a 47 percent increase in population since 1980, leaving a large base of residents without the services that college graduates can offer, Kaufeld said. IPFW would like to offer more programs in advanced actuarial science and applied statistics, engineering and health care, he said.

"It's things that our region is telling us they need, but as a regional campus, we face a lot of hurdles in providing them," Kaufeld said.

A study released last August by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership recommended IPFW streamline its programs to meet the needs of students and the regional workforce and strengthen the school's engagement with the local business community.

Higher Education Commission spokesman Jason Bearce confirmed Lubbers received Daniels' letter but hasn't discussed it with any of the agency's board members.

"She expects to do so at our upcoming Commission meeting on February 12, which would be the earliest point at which they would be able to discuss this matter and consider taking a formal position on the issue," Bearce said in an email.

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