Mass rejection of  IPFW to PU LSA plan by those most impacted calls for plan reevaluation

| February 15, 2016

By Thomas R. Butler

Over the past several weeks, I have read with much interest the LSA Proposal as well as various views on the proposed IPFW to Purdue changes.  My initial reaction based on the information that I have at this time is one of great concern. The major source of my concern is based on the reaction of those who are either receiving, delivering or administrating the education.  The plan has been rejected by the IPFW students, the faculty, and the administration including the chancellor. Perhaps it would be well to examine some of the elements of the concerns. One concern is the apparent lack of due diligence. The very small group that developed this plan have apparently done it in haste with little or no due diligence, cloaking their work in secrecy until the last minute when they exposed it.

Another concern is that IPFW has been unfairly criticized in the report. One example of such a criticism is that IPFW student population takes a longer time to graduate. The criticism ignores the fact that for many, IPFW is a path to a degree while they work full time or have to spread their education out over a longer period of time for other reasons; accurate observation, inappropriate criticism. It should be a positive reflection that the needs of this community are being served. It does perhaps reflect on the lack of understanding or the motivation of those who did this assessment.

What are the motivations and focus of those proposing this plan?  The plan appears to benefit very few at the expense of many more.  It reads like the strategic plans of very narrowly focused business men. In the case of IPFW, it means that IU will abandon its support of current degree programs that they do not directly control. The primary focus of IU in Fort Wayne will dwindle to Health and Medicine and Medical Engineering, positions primarily favored by local businesses, dropping entirely the collaborative and rich educational structure that exists under the IPFW model in favor of a solely business-centric focus.

This strategy plays well to those that subscribe to a simplistic management concept of “I will not invest in what I can not control.”  Simple, yes, but one that unfortunately ignores the power of collaboration in which absolute control does not exist but the opportunity for greater gain through collaboration does and one that is borne out by the current IPFW collaborative model. Collaboration is a hallmark of smart leaders and where it is lacking, it is often used as a sign to replace leadership.

In summary, the plan has been rejected by the IPFW students, the faculty, and the administration including the chancellor. With all those that are impacted, except the business community, expressing serious concerns or complete rejection of the plan, the plan must as a minimum be re-evaluated. The risk of the loss of broad and richly diverse educational opportunities that meet the needs of all of our children and grandchildren in NE Indiana is not acceptable.

Thomas R. Butler is a retired engineer who worked for more than 40 years in the defense industry where he served many years as a director of research. As part of his work he collaborated with many universities and helped to influence the direction of their research by creating grants, funding chairs, and providing scholarships that were beneficial to the objectives of the defense companies. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Community Friends of Women’s Studies Inc.

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Category: Education, Letters, Opinion

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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