INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana and Purdue universities are revamping the 52-year relationship that is IUPUI and rebranding the urban campus as Indiana University Indianapolis, a move intended to end confusion and drive growth in enrollment, research and prestige.
Under a memorandum of understanding negotiated by IU President Pamela Whitten and Purdue President Mitch Daniels, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will shed its tongue-twisting name by fall semester 2024.
During that time, the 536-acre campus, located on the west edge of downtown, will undergo a major transformation meant to give both IU and Purdue stronger identities in the state’s capital city that will allow them to play bigger roles in the region’s economy and get students more prepared for hot jobs in science and engineering.
The implications of Friday’s announcement for IUPUC in Columbus were not immediately clear. IU spokesman Chuck Carney said in an email, “the exact impact will be determined through a set of working groups to develop the operational plans for the realignment. That will take place over the next 24 months.”
The IU board approved the changes at a board meeting 9-0 on Friday in Bloomington with no debate. Purdue board’s executive committee, which is authorized to act between full trustee meetings, also was set to vote Friday.
Whitten, who took over as president of Indiana University just one year ago, said the change represents “an amazing opportunity.”
“We get to design a world-class urban university for the city of Indianapolis and really put the city on the map,” she said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement the realignment “will create a transformational change across Indiana’s landscape and far beyond.” He said the schools will “create an epicenter for research and a training ground for future focused innovative fields to ensure students are ready for the modern-day economy.”
IUPUI, until now a joint venture between the two universities on a campus owned and managed by IU, could look and operate much differently in coming decades. Besides its new name, the institution will realign or shuffle some of its programs and schools, with Purdue taking on more responsibility for engineering and computer science, and IU continuing to operate much of the life science and health care programs.
It could be a huge change for a major institution on the Indianapolis skyline and for the city itself. For five decades, IUPUI has operated as a collaboration between the two, with each offering their own degrees. Students do not receive IUPUI degrees; they receive either an IU or a Purdue degree.
IU has owned and operated the campus — and will continue to do so.
Daniels negotiated the new agreement for IUPUI with Whitten. He told IBJ he’s been interested in discussing a change for some time, but it hadn’t been a priority for IU until Whitten came on board last year.
Purdue, the longtime smaller partner in the collaboration, now occupying just five of IUPUI’s 129 buildings, will continue to offer science and engineering programs under the Purdue brand.
But Purdue said it plans to expand its presence on or near the Indianapolis campus. One way is by opening a branch of its Purdue Applied Research Institute, a not-for-profit research arm that serves as an incubator for advanced development and transition of technology that has potential for large-scale prototypes, pilots and start-ups.
Purdue said it anticipates expanding its Indianapolis enrollment by more than 1,000 students, housing many in a new residential building near its academic buildings. Currently, Purdue has about 5,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled at IUPUI, compared to about 26,000 for IU.
Whitten told the IU board on Friday that there are still details to work out, but that the memorandum of understanding “lays out the timeline and general parameters for which both institutions will cooperate and collaborate in good faith to develop and implement the realignment plan with a view toward entering into a definitive agreement” by June 20, 2023, with an effective date for the realignment of July 1, 2024.
A major goal of the transformation, both institutions say, is to make students better prepared for the sharply rising number of jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the so-called STEM sector), which business and civic leaders identify as the future of the Indiana economy.
Among the many Indiana government, civic and business leaders applauding Friday’s announcement was Columbus-based Cummins Inc. President CEO Jennifer Rumsey.
“Today’s announcement complements Cummins’ efforts to train youth around the world with employable, technical skills and connect them to good-paying jobs. We applaud the leaders of both universities for their continued strategic thinking and approach and how it will bolster our collective effort to increase the number of STEM graduates,” Rumsey said. “We will continue to work with universities across the nation to help equip students and train current workers with the skills for the jobs of today and for the future, just as these two great universities are seeking to do with today’s announcement.”
Chris Lowery, commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and former chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College for the Columbus/Southeast Indiana Region, also welcomed the developments.
“As a graduate of IUPUI, I have seen how much this campus has transformed over the past few decades,” he said. “It has truly become a world-class urban campus with opportunities for students in medicine, business, government and more within walking distance of their classes. I look forward to seeing this next transformation play out, and the potential it holds for our entire city.”