Daniels talks IPFW split, Cook Medical partnership, trip to Colombia

Purdue President Mitch Daniels (WLFI File Photo)
Purdue President Mitch Daniels (WLFI File Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Purdue University may part ways with its regional campus in Fort Wayne. That decision may come after the results are known of an ongoing study of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

In addition to the West Lafayette campus, Purdue oversees three regional campuses including Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne or IPFW. But that could change pending a study of IPFW’s governance by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

“This is not about discrediting how we got to where we are today, but we’re asking after 50 years of this institution being in place, do we need to look at a different governance structure going forward? We simply want to have an open and honest conversation about that in a way that positions this university for success in the future,” said President and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, John Sampson.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership is a public-private partnership that markets the Fort Wayne area for economic development purposes. Sampson said the study will help determine if IPFW has the ability to develop and expand degrees and programs to the needs of the employers in the area. He said it’s all part of the Big Goal of increasing the number of Northeast Indiana residents with high-quality degrees or credentials to 60 percent.

“We see as playing an essential role in us reaching the Big Goal by 2025. And if they don’t have the flexibility or the funding or the post-graduate degrees to be responsive to our employers, we see that as an impediment to us reaching the Big Goal,” said Sampson.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said it will be up to the Fort Wayne community, the faculty and ultimately the state to decide if a different arrangement is better. But if the two institutions split, a degree with the Purdue name is at stake.

“Our faculty have to have the ability to certify that that diploma and the education that went into it meets Purdue’s standards. Everything after that, seems to me, is up for discussion and review,” said Daniels.

A bill that would designate IPFW as a metropolitan campus and give it more power was voted down in the Indiana Senate Tuesday. Daniels said legislators are waiting to see the results of the study. The study is expected to be completed by May 30.

Meanwhile, the Purdue Research Foundation and Cook Medical will collaborate to support life sciences start up opportunities.

It was announced that PRF and Cook Medical plan to establish an evergreen investment fund to support Purdue-based life sciences companies. The Foundry Investment Fund, a non-profit fund, will join with other investors to fund companies that are based on Purdue technology or expertise in human and animal health and plant sciences. The fund will provide a match to outside investors’ funds and add capital for the transition from the discovery of a technology to founding a life sciences company.

Daniels said  as those companies succeed, the money that’s earned will go back into the fund and help the next company.

“It’s all about moving more of the brilliant research happening all over this campus out in society and in particular, strengthen the local economy and the Indiana economy,” said Daniels.

Daniels said he hopes the new partnership will create new jobs. He said the easiest way to look at it is it’s early-stage money to help a new business take off.

Daniels’ trip to Colombia was cut short because of the deadly shooting on campus two weeks ago. Daniels said the country has a lot of potential as far as agriculture and engineering go.

Although the five-day trip was cut down to three for him, other university officials stayed. The trip started off with meetings with Colombia’s president and businesses. In all, Purdue established six agreements, four with universities. Daniels said that will create stronger ties for exchange opportunities for students, particularly graduate students at Purdue from Colombia.

He said he wants Purdue to act as a larger institution and make a significant difference in Colombia.

“It’s a place that fits Purdue, we fit their needs. It’s a place where we could really do something important while our students learn and our faculty grow and do great research,” said Daniels.

Meanwhile, Daniels said university officials continue to look back on the response to the shooting on campus. He said they are reviewing the law enforcement response, the emergency alert system and some of the professors’ responses. The Provost Office is still collecting feedback. He said the university is also seeing if there are any preventive measures that could have been taken to keep the shooting from happening.

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