Realigning to a new identity: IUPUC expected to be rebranded as IU Columbus

Indiana University officials say plans to transform IUPUI in Indianapolis into two independent academic organizations is expected to result in the rebranding of IUPUC within the next couple of years.

Officials from Indiana and Purdue universities are continuing to work out the details of plans for an academic “realignment” at IUPUI that was announced this past summer, officials said. The realignment seeks to increase the number of job-ready graduates and fuel economic growth in the region and state, the two universities said.

Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding that the two universities agreed to in August, IU will continue to own and operate the Indianapolis campus and will take over operation of what is now IUPUI’s School of Science, except for the Department of Computer Science, which will become part of Purdue.

Officials expect that the IUPUI campus will be rebranded as Indiana University – Indianapolis.

And as IUPUI moves forward with those plans, university officials expect IUPUC — which is a regional division of IUPUI — to undergo a rebranding of its own and focus entirely on IU degree programs.

“I fully expect that IUPUC will become IU Columbus and continue to be a part of the IU Indianapolis operation,” IUPUI Chancellor Andrew Klein told The Republic. “The programs that IU runs in Columbus are really important to the state and to the Columbus community, and I fully expect those will continue, and hopefully, grow and thrive.”

Since the announcement in August, the two flagship universities have formed working groups that include representation from IUPUC “to make sure that we’re focusing on issues that will impact students in Columbus, as well as our campus in Fort Wayne in here at Indianapolis,” Klein said.

The goal is for the working groups to complete their work by the end of this academic year so that the trustees of both institutions can enter into a final agreement by June.

After that, Klein expects that officials will need the 2023-24 academic year to implement the new arrangement, with the new structure taking effect for the 2024-25 school year, or July 1, 2024, when the two universities start new fiscal years.

“That’s when we expect to rebrand the campus here as IU Indianapolis, and that’s when I would expect that the Columbus campus will be IU Columbus,” Klein said.

Locally, IUPUC officials this fall started updating the campus’ strategic plans, as well as its academic master plan, and are “exploring ways in which we can enrich and expand the higher education offerings from our campus to better serve the region,” said IUPUC Vice Chancellor and Dean Reinhold Hill.

IUPUC has just over 1,400 students, according to its website.

“For more than 50 years, IUPUC has provided higher education opportunities to residents of south-central Indiana as a branch campus of IUPUI, and that will not change moving forward,” Hill said. “We will, however, only be focusing on degree programs offered by Indiana University.”

Purdue, for its part, is expected to take over operations of a bachelor’s degree program in mechanical engineering that is currently offered at IUPUC and awards a Purdue degree, officials said.

Purdue University spokesman Tim Doty said the university is currently “moving forward” with its work on the planned academic realignment and said the mechanical engineering degree program is “an important part of those conversations.”

“Our work on the academic realignment is moving forward, and the program at Columbus is an important part of those conversations,” Doty said in a statement. “We are sensitive to the workforce needs in Columbus, and those needs will certainly be part of any decisions regarding that specific program as we move forward with the realignment planning.”

Doty said Purdue’s realignment efforts are expected to ramp up next year.

Many Indiana government, civic and business leaders have praised the plans for realignment, including Cummins Inc. President and 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 told the Indianapolis Business Journal in August. “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.”

Additionally, Community Education Coalition President and CEO John Burnett said the realignment seems “very positive,” has a lot of “upside potential” and will bring clarity to what IU and Purdue offer in Columbus.

“I’m very confident that our community and our region will benefit from the work that is going on with Indiana University and Purdue University as it relates to IUPUI, and as it relates to IUPUC and Purdue Polytechnic,” Burnett added later in the interview.

Hill, for his part, said IUPUC is “enthusiastic” about the transition and “the opportunity to begin to build our own identity within the IU system.”

“When our branch campus began in 1970, we were known as IUPUI-Columbus, and eventually transitioned to IUPUC,” Hill said. “While we will continue to be a branch campus for Indianapolis, we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to begin to build our own identity within the IU system as we move through this transition and beyond.”