INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana University and Purdue University took the first steps Friday (Aug. 12) on a bold new vision for higher education in Indianapolis, designed to increase the number of job-ready graduates in an innovation-led economy, fuel economic growth in the region and the state, and enhance service to the Indianapolis community and beyond.
This new vision, outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding approved Friday by the IU Board of Trustees and the executive committee of Purdue’s Board of Trustees, will transform the 52-year-old IUPUI – a joint venture between the two universities on a campus IU owns and manages – into separate academic organizations in which IU and Purdue will each govern their own programs. It calls for a more energized role for each university and the production of more graduates ready to participate in the modern economy.
The MOU outlines a platform for collaboration in which each university’s strengths will expand research activity in Indianapolis and enhance funding opportunities for joint research initiatives, including the creation of a joint biosciences engineering institute. This new institute will harness the power of the universities’ collective academic and research strengths and ongoing collaboration between Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and other Purdue health-related disciplines, and Indiana University’s School of Medicine and health-related disciplines to develop new life-enhancing therapies and technologies while simultaneously creating a highly sought-after pool of professionals whose unique research and training will create startups and attract new companies to Indiana.
The presidents of both universities pointed to the joint institute as an example of how this agreement brings them together in ways that will create transformational change in Indianapolis and the state, creating a global center of research and an engine of growth.
The MOU charges campus leaders to work together over the next year toward the optimum model for strengthening the city and state in the modern economy. To create that model, various operational details will be worked out through careful planning and consultation with all impacted groups. Working groups will be formed to address a variety of specific areas, and both universities are committed to executing a smooth transition that puts students first. Completion of the realignment is expected in time for the fall 2024 semester, at which time the new academic organizations will become official.
Both presidents hail decision
Presidents Mitch Daniels of Purdue and Pam Whitten of IU hailed the trustees’ support and action for the positive effects they foresee.
“This is an historic moment for Indianapolis, for IU, and for our entire state,” Whitten said. “We are building on IUPUI’s more than 50 years of accomplishment to propel us into becoming one of the preeminent urban research universities in this country. In addition to expanding our science and technology programs, we plan to grow across the board, create more opportunities for students, and become even more deeply integrated with the Indianapolis community through close relationships with local businesses, nonprofits, sports organizations, and more.”
Said Purdue’s Daniels: “This new vision will enable the number of Purdue’s STEM graduates to grow and also provide more opportunities to our students and faculty both in Indianapolis and in West Lafayette. What we are announcing today responds to calls we have heard from Indianapolis and across the state for a bigger and more visible Purdue in Indianapolis. Our state and its largest city require a world-class, high-technology research presence of the quality Purdue represents.”
Each university building on its strengths
Indiana University owns and operates the IUPUI campus, but certain programs grant Purdue degrees. Under the MOU, various activities will be allocated as follows:
Indiana University will take over operation of what is now the School of Science at IUPUI, except for its Department of Computer Science, which will become part of Purdue. IU will accelerate training for tomorrow’s IT workforce by expanding its Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering with new computer science programs in Indianapolis.
IU also expects to enhance integration of its science programs with its School of Medicine and other allied health science schools, expanding the number of students who will be prepared for health science-based careers, improving the pipeline of doctors and nurses and keeping more graduates in the state. IU will also establish innovative collaborations in new research areas, which will benefit the state through increased funding and resulting startups.
In addition, IU will have responsibility for providing certain administrative services for both academic organizations and for maintaining the intercollegiate athletic program. IU will continue to provide innovative educational experiences for the more than 27,000 students in other IU programs such as business, law, nursing, social work and a wide range of other academic disciplines.
Purdue will assume responsibility for engineering, computer science and technology as a fully integrated expansion of Purdue West Lafayette. The new structure will allow Purdue to grow engineering, technology and computer science enrollments in Indianapolis, and create exciting opportunities for current West Lafayette students to “study away” in Indianapolis while pursuing internship or cooperative work opportunities with Indianapolis companies.
In addition to its new urban campus, Purdue intends to open a branch of its Purdue Applied Research Institute on or near the current IUPUI. Overall, Purdue anticipates growing today’s Indianapolis enrollment by more than 1,000 students, housing many together in a new residential building near their academic buildings, Daniels said. These may be seniors finishing their education on the new urban campus, students who opt to undertake their entire Purdue experience at Indianapolis or options in between.
New programs to support growth, opportunity
In Friday’s announcement, both presidents emphasized IUPUI’s 52-year record of accomplishment. During that time, it has evolved from a local commuter school to the third largest undergraduate campus and one of the biggest research campuses in Indiana. Its 206,000 living alumni contribute mightily to the state’s economic growth.
But the opportunities and challenges of that growth, and the changing demands of a modern economy, demand a new approach, they said. Central Indiana and business community leaders have expressed concern about shortages of talent, especially in the sciences, engineering, technology, and health care, as well as a need for high-end research. Companies have even reported that they’ve had to invest elsewhere as the result of a lack of trained local talent.
“This new arrangement will give us opportunities to create immersive new programs in innovation and entrepreneurship that strengthen Indianapolis’ position as one of our country’s great urban centers,” Whitten said. “And, in recognition of the importance of research as an engine of economic growth, I am today announcing a goal of raising our School of Medicine’s ranking in NIH funding for research in medicine and biosciences among public universities from 14th, where we stand today, into the top 10 within five years.”
Daniels and Whitten will welcome reactions and suggestions to these plans and hope for active support from business, public sector, and philanthropic leaders in bringing them to reality.
Both leaders also emphasized that, amid the change, key elements of what has made IUPUI successful would remain:
- Proximity to world-class employers.
- Proximity to state government, within walking distance of campus.
- Engagement with the community, extending even to faculty, a cutting-edge attribute only now being emulated by others.
- The collaborative spirit on campus, which will be maintained under the new structure.
- Pride in what has been accomplished over 52 years, gratitude to the faculty and staff who made it possible, and a loyal alumni base.
- A commitment to continuing executive and mid-career education.
What will ultimately emerge from that transition will be a much stronger platform for two world-class higher education powerhouses to meet the needs of Indiana and its capital city for decades to come. An FAQ is available online.
What they’re saying:
“The decoupling better positions both universities for the future – allowing them to further promote and build on the programs each is known for. In turn, this will likely attract more students, afford them increased collaboration with their cohort and overall better prepare them for the jobs of today and tomorrow. This is also exciting news for the Hoosier business community – particularly in central Indiana – because of the positive impact it will have on the state’s talent pipeline.” – Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber of Commerce president and CEO
“IUPUI has provided an important educational role to central Indiana for over half a century. Today’s news is a welcome and important first step in positioning Indiana’s workforce to better support the needs of future-focused, rapidly evolving global businesses. Competing to win in a complex, global economy requires our universities to specialize and, at the same time, collaborate with industry and in academic research, which is exactly what this change will help achieve. While change is difficult, failing to change can be even more challenging, so this is great news for Indiana.” – Brad Chambers, Indiana secretary of commerce
“In this innovation economy, companies and communities need to think differently about the development of technology talent. I am optimistic that the IUPUI realignment plan will better position Indiana University and Purdue University to both accelerate investment into technology-related disciplines and unlock the tremendous potential that an urban campus provides to students and the business community.” – Scott Dorsey, co-founder and managing partner, High Alpha
“One in 10 jobs added in Indiana over the last decade were in tech, and the tech workforce increased 60% faster than the overall growth. With the number of tech and tech-enabled jobs hitting record demand, the cities that can produce the most talent will attract the most investment, catalyze the most innovation, and spark the most new venture creation. The bold steps that these two great research universities are taking to increase their presence and active engagement in Indianapolis sets the stage for Indy’s next step toward being a top ten tech hub in the decades to come.” – Ting Gootee, president and CEO, TechPoint
“As a university, a research institution, and a frequent civic partner, IUPUI has become a foundational Indianapolis resource. Today, as it evolves to meet the needs of a rapidly approaching future, I am confident that reputation will only deepen for residents.” – Joe Hogsett, mayor of Indianapolis
“IUPUI’s realignment will create a transformational change across Indiana’s landscape and far beyond. As Purdue and Indiana University – two of our state’s globally competitive universities – continue to focus on their individual strengths, they will also now create an epicenter for research and a training ground for future focused innovative fields to ensure students are ready for the modern-day economy. This bold move will ensure Indiana is a leader in developing the workforce of tomorrow and attracting more companies to Indiana that are on the brink of cutting-edge discovery. Congratulations to Presidents Daniels and Whitten for keeping Indiana’s trajectory straight up.” – Eric Holcomb, governor of Indiana
“Over 50 years ago, state and city leaders called for the creation of a world-class research university in Indianapolis because they knew it was vital to the economic growth of the region. That’s still true today, and I’m fully supportive of these changes which will fuel the next wave of growth for the campus, Indianapolis, Central Indiana, and our state. I look forward to supporting this important initiative in the next legislative session. It’s my hope that our thriving business and corporate community also steps up their support of this critical initiative that could be a major force behind Indiana’s talent pipeline for years to come.” – Todd Huston, speaker of Indiana House of Representatives
“The leaders of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership’s innovation-driven corporations salute and celebrate the truly good news of a new day for both Purdue University and Indiana University in our capital city. With this announcement, and the exciting proposals for each university to build an expanded, focused and complementary world-class, STEM research presence in downtown Indianapolis, we join the ranks of other great regional R&D hubs across the United States, featuring major research institutions located in urban centers to collaborate with industry and to drive our best possibilities for future growth.” – David Johnson, president and CEO, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership
“Today, Indiana University and Purdue University initiated strategic and collaborative steps to reimagine the potential for higher education and research in Indianapolis, our state’s capital. I am confident the vision being contemplated will provide transformative opportunities for our citizens, employers, and state.” – Chris Lowery, commissioner, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
“As a graduate of IUPUI, I have seen how much this campus has transformed over the past few decades. 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.” – Rep. Cherrish Pryor, Indiana House of Representatives minority floor leader
“As a proud graduate of both universities, I’m excited to see this natural transformation of their Indianapolis presence. The world needs more graduates who are ready for STEM careers, and this evolution offers the promise to unlock the full potential of our state university institutions and their graduates. This change will also increase the opportunities for our great state institutions and their faculty to collaborate with Indy-based global science and technology companies to solve some of the world’s most pressing scientific, technological and health challenges.” – David A. Ricks, chair and CEO, Eli Lilly and Company
“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. 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.” – Jennifer Rumsey, president and CEO, Cummins