Study outlines 5 recommendations for change at IPFW

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)   The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership released the results of a study Thursday morning which looks at ways IPFW can change to help better meet the needs of employers in the region.  The IPFW Roles and Governance Study includes five key recommendations based on the perspectives of business leaders in the region as to the best ways to develop, attract and retain talent with the goal of increasing the proportion of residents with a degree or credentials to 60 percent.

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Engage in a re-engineering process. For IPFW to continue to serve as an asset for the community, it must look into streamlining programs to align with student needs and interests and the regional workforce needs.
  • Emphasize the importance of degree completion. Increasing the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees will help the region as it works toward the Big Goal.
  • Strengthen the engagement between IPFW and the local business community. The university’s Community Advisory Council should be more involved in the strategic direction for the campus, while the business community should be more willing to extend resources and expertise to the university.
  • Transfer administrative oversight of IPFW from Purdue University to Indiana University. Indiana University has eight regional campuses throughout the state and the institutional infrastructure in place to administer them.
  • Adjust Indiana’s performance funding metrics. The state’s metrics should be modified to shift their emphasis from rewarding funding based on degree completion at the four-year interval and provide incentives for faster degree completion at regional campuses. It must recognize that regional campuses like IPFW have a different student body make up than their parent campuses.

“IPFW plays a significant role in preparing our workforce to meet the needs of regional employers, and it is a critical partner in achieving the Big Goal,” said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “Those factors must be considered when we talk about the future of the university.”

“The study identified the critical importance of increasing the level of engagement between IPFW and the business community,” said Bill Sheldrake, president of Policy Analytics and a co-author of the study. “While this will take efforts from all the stakeholders in the community, the Partnership can take a leading role in improving that engagement from the business side.”

IPFW issued the following statement following the release of the study: 

On Thursday, August 14, Policy Analytics, LLC, presented the final “IPFW Roles and Governance Report” to the State Budget Committee, as commissioned by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. We appreciate the work of the study in bringing important issues forward for consideration.

IPFW’s mission is to provide access to globally recognized degree programs that drive the intellectual, social, and cultural advancement of our students and region. In order to realize this mission, we continue our longstanding advocacy for the changes that we believe will enable us to more fully achieve our mission.

These changes include:
• academic autonomy at the graduate level equal to what we have at the undergraduate level;
• designation as a Multi-system, Comprehensive Institution;
• substantive increase in our base funding as well as changes in performance funding metrics to increase alignment with our mission
• a culture of substantive collaboration resulting in tangible academic and economic benefits for northeast Indiana.

IPFW is committed to working with both Purdue and Indiana Universities in any capacity that allows us to realize our mission and achieve our strategic objectives.

Purdue also issued a statement Thursday afternoon: 

Purdue favors whatever arrangement is best for the students on the IPFW campus and for the region it serves. We believe, and have much confirmation from the IPFW community, that communication and collaboration around the system are much improved in the last year or so. But if the local community, the people of IPFW and the state’s public leadership conclude that a shift to administration by IU is advisable, we will cooperate fully in a swift transition.

The following statement from Mark Land, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations at Indiana University was also issued Thursday afternoon:

As for an IU comment, the university is aware of the proposal that came out of the IPFW Roles and Governance Study but we have no comment on the specifics. As you know, IPFW is managed by Purdue so it isn’t IU’s place to comment regarding the recommendations in the study.

During the study, six focus groups were conducted with approximately 40 members of the local business community, including IPFW graduates, collaborators on university programs and employers of IPFW degree holders. Additionally, independent interviews were conducted with area business leaders, representatives from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) and members of Northeast Indiana’s legislative delegation.

The study also looked at the current governance agreement for IPFW; history of campus funding and governance; academic performance data; and policy documents from the state, ICHE, Indiana University and Purdue University.

The full report can be found here.

According to a news release issued by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the organization was formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana. It is a public-private partnership creating business investment by generating business leads, developing product and fostering regional collaboration. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. The 10 counties of Northeast Indiana include Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.

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