- The public research institution that's operated for 52 years as Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis — IUPUI — will be split up come fall 2024 as the two institutions that run it as a joint venture divide its academic programs.
- Trustees for Indiana University and Purdue University approved a memorandum of understanding Friday that will split the 27,000-student IUPUI's academics and have each institution managing its own programs in the state's capital city. The bulk of the campus and its programs will become IU Indianapolis, while Purdue has yet to choose a name for the assets it will inherit. The institutions will also create a joint biosciences engineering institute.
- Leaders at the two universities cast the move as a necessary evolution amid worries about talent shortages and a need for more research in the Indianapolis area.
The decision to split up IUPUI can be seen as an example of state and university leaders across the U.S. grappling with how best to connect legacy research universities — which are often located outside of major population centers — with urban areas that have become increasingly important to economic growth.
Other examples of this phenomenon in recent years include Cornell University standing up a New York City campus and Virginia Tech building a new campus in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.
But IUPUI's history shows this isn't a new struggle.
The university traces its roots to 1968, when Richard Lugar, then-mayor of Indianapolis who would go on to become a U.S. Senator, asked for "a great state university in Indianapolis." The next year, IU and Purdue merged their programs in the area to form IUPUI. The joint venture has since expanded from a commuter campus to an institution with the third-largest undergraduate enrollment in the state.
IU is the state's flagship research university, located about 51 miles Southwest of Indianapolis, with its main campus in Bloomington. Purdue is the state's land-grant research university, with historic strengths in engineering and science. Its primary campus is located about 68 miles Northwest of Indianapolis in West Lafayette.
Indiana University owns and operates the IUPUI campus, but some programs grant degrees from Purdue. Leaders hope that splitting up the universities' programs will better define academic and research operations.
The changes creates incentives for each university to invest in Indianapolis operations — incentives that don't exist when they function as a combined IUPUI, Purdue's president, Mitch Daniels, said during a news conference Friday. Purdue leaders have long wanted a larger, more visible presence in Indianapolis, but IUPUI's structure didn't allow that, he said.
"Circumstances have changed," said Daniels, who was governor of Indiana from 2005 to 2013 and is set to step down from Purdue at the end of the year. "I hope we're at the dawn of what can be the second great half-a-century for this institution — redesigned, reconfigured to meet the needs of today's information economy and the great companies that have grown up here."
Business leaders in central Indiana were particularly concerned about engineering and technical talent shortages, according to a Purdue Q&A. They wanted "a dramatically expanded Purdue presence in Indianapolis," it said.
"While many graduates of the flagship West Lafayette campus find their way to internships and jobs in Central Indiana, a large opportunity exists to engage more of them with Indy-area firms if they were residents in Indianapolis for a year or more of their Purdue experience," the Q&A said.
Purdue is also planning on opening an applied research institute branch at or near what is currently IUPUI.
Meanwhile, IU has said the plan may stem a shortage of healthcare workers and provide an opportunity to increase research funding.
IU will absorb the current IUPUI School of Science, with the exception of its computer science department. That will go to Purdue, while IU will expand its own informatics, computing and engineering school with new Indianapolis programs.
Each university will set its own tuition and fee rates. Many details have yet to be worked out under the agreement — including which physical facilities Purdue will have after the change and what additional space might be built for the university. IU will provide some administrative services for both academic operations and keep up an intercollegiate athletic program at the campus.
About 4,000 students currently pursue Purdue degrees in Indianapolis. Purdue has said it plans to boost its enrollment in the city by over 1,000 students.
The change has drawn support from the state's governor, legislative leaders, secretary of commerce, and business leaders including those of major employers Cummins and Eli Lilly and Co.
The institutions will split IUPUI several years after they divided another joint campus they operated, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. IU assumed health sciences programs there, while Purdue took over other programs. That change, effective in 2018, came after a legislative report recommended it.