New IPFW Chancellor visits campus, greets students and staff

Photo of Ronald Elsenbaumer provided by Purdue University

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – IPFW’s newly-appointed chancellor stopped in Fort Wayne to visit the campus and meet with students and staff, Tuesday. Ron Elsenbaumer, who will replace Vicky Carwein, begins his duties November 1. Elsenbaumer is first generation college student and graduate of Purdue University. He said becoming the chancellor brings his journey full circle.

“Here’s an opportunity for me to really be a role model for students,” he said. “To show them that this experience, getting a college education from a really well respected institution, is going to change their lives.”

The current Chancellor, Vicky Carwein, announced she would retire in the midst of growing uncertainty about IPFW’s future. Purdue University and Indiana University’s board of trustees approved a realignment plan. Under the realignment taking effect in July 2018, Purdue will oversee the campus and most programs while IU will provide health science, nursing and social work degrees.

The move drew criticism from both students and staff and even sparked some protests. Elsenbaumer will oversee IPFW’s transition to Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“Change is always unsettling,” said Elsenbaumer. “You always have to look forward and understand that change is being done for a purpose. IPFW did not offer degrees. It was Purdue University and Indiana University that offered degrees on our campus. That’s confusing.”

Elsenbaumer said the realignment is the best move for the university.  He said name recognition is important and splitting the schools keeps down confusion. However, enrollment has dropped 13 percent this fall semester as the schools prepare to split into separate entities next year.

“I know that we have challenges with enrollment and enrollment declines,” said Elsenbaumer. “But I do believe that given the educational opportunities here, the degree programs that we have here, and the opportunity for employment for graduates, our enrollment will turn around.”

Elsenbaumer would not go into details but said there could be more changes ahead. The university is working with some marketing firms to determine what those changes should be.

“All of that will become apparent very soon,” he said. “I’m not going to comment on that yet because there’s still a lot going on behind the scenes.”