President Michael A. McRobbie’s remarks about the LSA’s recommendations for IPFW

Friday, April 21, 2017

The LSA report mapped out an exciting future for higher education in Fort Wayne. With the assistance of the Indiana Legislature, Indiana University will build on our School of Medicine’s Medical Education Center to create a truly interdisciplinary health sciences program, which will serve the educational needs of the students of northeast Indiana, as well as contribute to the economic development of this critically important region of the state.

We are delighted to be partnering with Purdue University in making this a reality, and we are grateful to Purdue for its part in implementing the LSA report by taking sole responsibility for the broad range of programs that make this campus a comprehensive institution. Purdue and IU have left competition on the playing field, as we like to say, and collaborated closely to ensure that we have two viable, thriving, and nimble educational institutions where there once was only one.

Following years of criticism, multiple studies, and a commitment of significant time and resources by our institutions and many others in this community, our goal has been, first and foremost, to improve the way that we provide higher education opportunities for the Fort Wayne community and the people of northeast Indiana.

  • To provide clarity, where now there is confusion and often poor coordination

  • To provide accountability, where today there is a lack of understanding as to which university is responsible for what

  • To bring a sharper focus and new programs to better serve the needs of this vitally important region of our state

  • And finally to respond to the criticisms and concerns that have been expressed by so many, on the campus and in the community, about the structure of this important campus

I want to thank Senator David Long for his relentless and passionate support of this campus and the needs of this community. In him, the people of Fort Wayne have a strong advocate for taking action to put the status quo behind us and move to a better, more accountable structure for addressing the concerns that have been expressed for so long. Without his leadership on this, we very well might be looking at yet another study and therefore yet another delay in addressing those concerns. Again, thank you, Senator Long for your leadership.

Finally, as the president of Indiana University and speaking here this afternoon in a community with so many IU alumni and friends, I really must address one criticism we have heard that is truly unfortunate and absolutely wrong. And that is the notion that this agreement between IU and Purdue somehow represents an “abandonment of Fort Wayne” by Indiana University. I want to state here today that nothing could be further from the truth. And I think that this agreement—this new and strong commitment by Indiana University—is the clear refutation of this unfair and inaccurate criticism. The fact is that this agreement will allow, for the very first time, Indiana University to assume budgetary and operational control and responsibility for programs in Fort Wayne, beyond our medical school facility presence here. Now—and I give great credit to Purdue for working with us on this—IU will assume full responsibility for a very specific, but very important, part of the academic program, and that represents a substantial ENHANCEMENT of our commitment to Fort Wayne and the northeast region of our state.

Change can be difficult for all of us and we readily acknowledge that. All of us will need to step up to make this change a success. For our part, we will need to commit the time and focus to build the interdisciplinary program we have committed to; For Purdue, they have already agreed to relinquish some health sciences programs they very well may have wished to keep . . . and President Daniels, we thank you for making that happen. For the Legislature, we will need some financial resources to bring all of this about. And for the campus and community, we ask for your help and support.

Change may, indeed, be hard but to move past the problems that have been talked about for so long, the time has come to implement a new course for this campus and community. And that is precisely what we intend to do.

Thank you.