Your guide to what’s next ahead of IUPUI split July 1

Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis just wrapped up its final semester before each school goes its separate ways this summer. The road ahead for both seems to be bright, in the eyes of their leaders anyway, as each school wants to hone on in becoming an urban campus integrated into the City of Indianapolis.

The universities plan to grow in Indianapolis, particularly in STEM programs.

Purdue University in Indianapolis is eager to build its footprint in the city, focusing on growing its engineering and technology programs. IU Indianapolis is ready to position itself as a top research institution, earning an R1 designation.

IUPUI, as you know by now, will dissolve officially on July 1, per an agreement between Purdue and IU signed last year. Talks of a split have persisted for years, even ahead of the first official 2022 announcement. Many, including us, have been waiting over the last year to discern precisely how the two schools will shape up as they separate after 53 years together in Indianapolis.

Your favorite education newsletter happened to be at IUPUI’s final commencement ceremony on May 9. A good amount of time was spent heralding the long-time partnership between Purdue and IU during the ceremony . . . but we noticed there was no mention of “IUPUI” officially coming to an end, as well as no fanfare over this moment being the last commencement with both schools.

As we’ve said, both schools are eager to move onto the next chapter. We’ve already seen IU start to rebrand the IUPUI campus as IUI, with different signage throughout. If you venture further in the campus, you’ll see Purdue making its mark with more branded black and gold signs and banners waving over on the 28 acres it will lease from IU. Both have also already been advertising their respective Indianapolis campuses throughout the last year.

Leaders from IU and Purdue overseeing the transition to two separate campuses afforded us details on what to expect from both institutions heading into the fall, from physical changes to bigger picture visions to ensure each school holds its own footprint in Indianapolis.

Purdue in Indianapolis Ready to Establish a Footprint

One can’t help but notice that IUPUI largely was dominated by IU, with Purdue taking a more secondary seat. Dan Hasler, a former Eli Lilly executive and former Daniels Administration secretary of commerce, who is leading Purdue’s Indianapolis effort as the chief operating officer, describes this to us as, “IUPUI was basically mostly IU with a spritzer of Purdue.”

Purdue acknowledges it has a bit of a bigger hill to climb in establishing its urban campus, as IU is retaining the IUPUI campus, and most of the students. Purdue is essentially starting from scratch creating a name for itself in Indianapolis with a new campus.

“It’s been a fascinating journey for the last year and a half on the job,” Hasler, who also served five years as president of the Purdue Research Foundation, tells us. “What (IU is) really doing, if I can make a metaphor, is they basically amputated an arm and then cauterized it, right? We’ve had to take that arm and reattach it to another body. So, making sure everything works and the arm doesn’t get rejected. That’s quite a bit more complicated and tedious process.”

So, physically, where will Purdue be in Indianapolis? The answer is simple, but also complex.  David Umulis, senior vice provost and chief academic officer for Purdue in Indianapolis, describes Purdue as being integrated within the city.

That will likely be true, since the university has several locations lined up already to operate from. The heart of Purdue in Indianapolis’s physical campus will remain on part of the original IUPUI grounds, as Purdue entered into a 100-year lease with IU for 28 acres surrounded by Michigan, West, North, and Blake streets and Indiana Avenue.

Purdue received $60 million from the state to fund an academic and student success building on its campus. Students will be able to use existing IUPUI engineering and technology buildings. Purdue also will maintain a footprint at 16 Tech Innovation Park, and possibly the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a partnership for a motorsports engineering program. The Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business Executive Education and some Purdue Innovates programs also already found a home with High Alpha in the Bottleworks District.

“We see the city as part of our campus and the industry partners that are there in the city to help support the way that we envision training our students in Indianapolis,” Umulis remarks.

The newest partnership announced Thursday where Purdue will also make a footprint comes with Elanco Animal Health. Purdue will join them in a Purdue-Elanco research facility on three acres of land to be built at a new OneHealth Innovation District situated near the future Elanco Global Headquarters in Indianapolis at the former GM Stamping Plant site. Purdue President Mung Chiang sees this latest partnership as continuing to follow the vision for the university making its mark on Indy.

“We committed to bring the totality of Purdue to the totality of our capital city, all the programs at Purdue to many different locations in this city,” President Chiang remarks at Thursday’s  unveiling of the Elanco partnership. “Today is a milestone in fulfilling that commitment.”

More on the physical campus side, for student housing, as we’ve told you in previous issues, Purdue leased two-thirds of North Hall, an IUPUI dorm, and 400 beds at Lux on Capitol, an apartment complex located just off campus at Michigan Street and Capitol Avenue.

This venture to expand in Indianapolis comes at an interesting time for Purdue. The West Lafayette campus is enduring growing pains and facing some capacity problems. The university simply doesn’t have enough room for all of its interested students, which we’ve detailed for you several times in these pages. While not the reason for Purdue in Indianapolis, the extension campus could help alleviate some of those issues, Hasler and Umulis explain.

The vision for Purdue in Indianapolis extends beyond physical locations and adding more buildings. A unique setup we’ve mentioned is that Purdue Indy will be an extension of West Lafayette, different from current approaches with regional campuses, which have chancellors and almost stand on their own.

“We committed that Purdue University will come to the city of Indianapolis, not as a regional campus, but as the southern part of an integrated one Purdue campus,” President Chiang describes.

As an extension of Purdue’s main campus, leaders expect the campuses to be fluid with each other, with students and faculty being able to travel back and forth for what they need. A student, for example, could spend one semester in West Lafayette and then move to the Indianapolis campus for an internship or a specific Indianapolis campus class the next. Students can also simply choose to remain at either campus without venturing back and forth at all.

Purdue wants to almost double its current enrollment of 2,500 at IUPUI within the first few years of launching Purdue in Indianapolis. The goal for this first semester is to enroll 800 new students. More than 100 faculty members have expressed interest in teaching either part time or full time at the Indianapolis campus.

Leaders believe this enrollment goal can be accomplished with truly taking advantage of marketing specific programs and the appeal of an urban campus setting.

Purdue is still building out the curriculum as whole for Indianapolis, with the idea of offering the same rigor of courses between Indianapolis and West Lafayette, so there won’t be a need to transition back and forth, unless students want to, Umulis explains. One campus won’t be seen as inferior to or better than the other . . . at least that’s the goal of the “extension” concept.

The university wants to promote flagships for programs just in Indianapolis, though, as a way to entice students to choose to enroll there. Motorsports engineering, a new degree program, for example, will only be offered in Indy.

The first programs to be offered at the school will be engineering, computer science, and polytechnic studies. This fall, Purdue plans to offer writing, liberal arts, and mathematics courses in Indianapolis, either through its own faculty or by partnering with IU professors who can teach the Purdue courses using West Lafayette standards and textbooks.

Building pipelines and getting students connected with employers is also a top advantage Purdue hopes to enjoy with roots in Indianapolis, since the area is the state’s largest economic driver. The goal is to land 15 corporate sponsors, and the university already near that goal with 11 lined up.

Big picture, Hasler foresees Purdue and IU using their individual footprints in the city to be an economic driver.

“By having both IU and Purdue separated, frankly stronger, each with stronger brands. And each with different programs and each growing our ability to attract high tech, high money jobs into Central Indiana has to go up,” Hasler asserts.

IU Indianapolis will Refocus on Research, Filling Gaps

Indianapolis stands out as being one of a few large cities with a university presence that doesn’t have a top research institution designation. IU hopes to change that. The university’s leaders are confident the newly rebranded Indianapolis school will quickly establish itself as a top U.S. urban research university.

Unlike Purdue, which is building a new campus, essentially, IU has the task of rebranding  itself, and figuring out the next vision for its urban campus. Achieving status as a top research institution in the country is no small feat, and it may not come as quickly as IU hopes . . . but the university is certainly cashing in big bucks to show it means business about its focus on research.

Since the announcement that IUPUI would split, the state and IU have announced plans for more than $100 million in research endeavors at IU Indianapolis. That includes building two science and health research institutes with the Convergent Bioscience and Technology Institute and Institute for Human Health and Wellbeing. The university has also committed to expanded and renovated research and laboratory space, building a lung cancer research program, and hiring additional faculty.

IU is also retaining and expanding the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, with hopes to double enrollment there.

For research, IUPUI is currently rated an R2 institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Notably, the ranking system is getting an overhaul into 2025. Carnegie is trying to pivot away from what some say is a “murky formula” to a simplified model that generally boils down to two benchmarks: amount of annual research spending and number of doctoral research graduates, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.

IUPUI right now already meets the new R1 threshold of at least $50 million a year spent on research and at least 70 annual doctoral research graduates. So, IUI expects to be reclassified as R1 next year.

IU Indianapolis Chancellor Latha Ramchand, who just assumed leadership in February, points to expanding research as one of several key changes coming to IUI as it transitions from IUPUI. She sees IU’s research in Indianapolis to be “research that will make a difference” with its focuses on bioscience and life sciences.

“We need to create an ecosystem where we start with research. We take that research into commercialization opportunities. We use that to develop patents and licensing opportunities, and we create startups, we create firms that are starting in the life science area, and then we graduate them to go public,” Chancellor Ramchand tells us. “So this whole value chain of what it means to start with, you know, thinking about a problem­ ­– Alzheimer’s or say, Down syndrome, or diabetes or any human disease that you can think of how do we create solutions in a way that starts with research and ends with a product or a service in the marketplace?”

She also believes that creating a significant research program ecosystem ensures longevity.

“You can have companies come and go you can have startups will come and they’ll merge, they’ll move. But if you have an educational institution anchored in a region that has this into their programs, right, the minute you put something into a degree program, trust me it’s not going away,” she explains. “And that makes sure that beyond my lifetime, if we have a bioscience, life science, biotechnology, informatics programs at IU Indianapolis, it’s going to outlive 20 chancellors and in the process, we’ve created this ecosystem where our students learn to create solutions they learn to create develop startups.”

Apart from the research aspect, IU Indianapolis is also trying to establish where gaps need to be filled in terms of recruiting students. Another large part of IUI’s new vision is working more closely with high schools to entice students to pursue higher education at IUI.

“Universities have often stayed in this space of ‘if we build it, they will come,’ and anymore we’re being challenged to explain why should I go to college?” Dr. Ramchand observes. “So as much as we can, we’re going into the high schools, we’re going into chambers of commerce and inviting, you know, school districts to come and tell us what it is we’re missing. Where are the gaps?”

Some of that can be seen with the new seamless admissions program with Indianapolis Public Schools, a program in which we also heard some early whispered skepticism about establishing an automatic admission policy, particularly one premised entirely on grades from a particular district, and whether it also may be appropriate for an institution seeking to establish itself as a premier research institution.

But the program has proved to be wildly popular not long after IU announced its creation, as the university found itself fielding calls from schools asking when they planned to expand the program. An expansion is already coming, which Ramchand was first to tell us. Now, IPS Innovation Network charter schools will be added to the roster of schools where students are eligible for the auto admissions program.

Just how many IPS students will take advantage of the opportunity is to be seen as it rolls out this coming fall. IPS graduates don’t currently make up a lot of the student population at IUPUI, as only 2.1% of undergraduate students enrolled at IUPUI for the 2022-23 academic year were IPS graduates. IU hopes that number will increase over the implementation of the new program.

In addition to connecting to high school students, IUI also wants to bring in more adult learners by promoting more programs to them.

“We want to do everything we can to promote the kind of workforce that our state needs. So that’s one part of the equation,” Chancellor Ramchand asserts.

IUI hopes to see enrollment growth overall. Ramchand reveals that the Indianapolis campus is expected to have more students enrolled this fall than last year at IUPUI, which she notes is “pretty amazing,” given that IUPUI will be losing about 2,500 students to Purdue in the split.

IUPUI for years has, to some, been seen as more of a commuter college, a lesser place to attend compared to going to the main campuses at Bloomington or West Lafayette. Dr. Ramchand expresses confidence that IU Indianapolis can shake that narrative.

“There’s nothing wrong in students commuting . . . but the reputation of the institution will grow as its research grows, will grow as its students graduate and become leaders in the community and I think everything I talked about, is all about creating that next generation of leaders, right?” Ramchand observes. She adds on that issue, “give me about two or three years, and then we can talk again.”