Indiana University, not Purdue University, should govern IPFW, and the state's performance funding formula should reflect the number of students who graduate in five or six years instead of four.
Those were a few of the recommendations from local business officials who met with the State Budget Committee at IPFW on Thursday.
John Stafford, retired director of IPFW's Community Research Institute, and Bill Sheldrake, president of Policy Analytics and a co-author of the study, presented its findings.
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership's study resulted in five recommendations for IPFW's governance options and funding considerations, Sheldrake said. Those recommendations:
•Engage in a re-engineering process and streamline IPFW's programs to align with student needs and interests and with regional workforce needs.
•Emphasize the importance of degree completion and of those earning bachelor's degrees.
•Strengthen the engagement between IPFW and the local business community.
•Transfer administrative oversight of IPFW from Purdue University to Indiana University. Currently, Purdue runs the IPFW campus.
•Adjust the state's performance funding formula.
Sheldrake said he and Sampson had met with both university presidents to discuss the study.
They had also talked with trustees from both universities in addition to the presidents about the recommendation to switch IPFW's governance from Purdue to IU, Sheldrake said.
“Everyone was very open to consideration,” he said.
The move makes sense because Indiana University has eight regional campuses and the institutional infrastructure in place to administer them, according to the study.
“The governance (switch) would make very little difference to students,” Stafford said.
“It's traditionally always been an even split – 50/50 – between Indiana and Purdue students at IPFW. That would not change.”
Sheldrake said: “It's a very unique and wonderful situation at IPFW where programs from two top tier institutions are offered to students.”
Purdue issued a statement saying it favors whatever arrangement is best for IPFW students and northeast Indiana.
IU spokesman Mark Land said it wasn't proper to comment on the study's recommendations since IPFW is managed by Purdue.
During a visit to IPFW in June, Purdue President Mitch Daniels told The Journal Gazette he has an open mind on whether IPFW needs more autonomy but recognizes that the campus' biggest strength is its ability to give a diploma that says “Purdue University” or “Indiana University,” something it would lose if it were to break away.
Sheldrake said that for years, IPFW has asked for more autonomy or control, not just for undergraduate programs but for graduate programs, as well.
IPFW needs to manage and adjust its graduate programs to meet the needs of students and maintain a direct, consistent and formal communication structure between its campus and its governing main campus, the study found.
In addition, IPFW is requesting a state funding metric that is more responsive to the challenges and realistic performance patterns of a regional campus, according to the study.
The state's performance funding is based on increasing the number of those receiving degrees based on two- or four-year programs. It does not apply to IPFW or other regional campuses because those universities deal with a different demographic, Sheldrake said.
Modifications to the funding formula should include an incentive for regional campuses that increases baccalaureate degree completions at the five-year and six-year intervals, Sheldrake said.
“The two- or four-year programs many times do not apply to IPFW or other regional campuses because those universities are dealing with a different demographic,” he said.
“Many students are working full time in addition to attending school.”
State lawmakers will address the recommendations in the near future, said state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, chair of the State Budget Committee.
“IPFW and other regional campuses are beginning, in some ways, to play a more important role in higher education,” Kenley said. “This is one particular area where we need to focus the hardest during the next few (legislative) sessions.”
IPFW is a critical component in achieving one of the Regional Partnership's Vision 2020's priorities – the Big Goal. That initiative aims to increase the proportion of residents with a degree or credential to 60 percent, according to the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership website.
Funding for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership study was provided by various area employers and by the Regional Opportunities Council, the Partnership's investor board that oversees the Vision 2020 initiative.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.