New IPFW Chancellor Ron Elsenbaumer reassured members of the Fort Wayne Rotary Club on Monday the institution he has headed since November would remain a full-service university and an NCAA Division I school in athletics.
And, seeking to quash talk that Indiana University was, as he put it, “abandoning the campus and taking their faculty with them,” Elsenbaumer said IU would still be on site and continue to be involved in premedical education.
The role IU had in music is being assumed under Purdue's umbrella, he said.
“We're claiming it,” he said of the music program in response to a Rotary member's question. “It's ours, and it's now the only music school at Purdue.”
As for athletics, Elsenbaumer said remaining in Division I “is incredibly important” to sustaining IPFW's reputation as a school with a scholar-athlete orientation. “I want to make sure it gets preserved,” he said, adding: “In terms of branding, it (Division I affiliation) is very important as well.”
As of July 1, IPFW will make the switch to a new name, Purdue University Fort Wayne, while the IU programs will be known as Indiana University Fort Wayne.
Rebranding efforts, Elsenbaumer said, are both an accomplishment since he was hired and a priority.
Reorganizing the university's department of marketing and communications is now underway, he said. Recently, Jerry Lewis was named to head that department – a position that was elevated from a directorship to a vice chancellor slot.
Elsenbaumer said he and Lewis had worked together at the University of Texas-Arlington for seven years. The new chancellor, a native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a Purdue graduate, came to IPFW from a position as special adviser to the president at the University of Texas.
Already, IPFW has approved a new logo that replaces blue and white with Purdue's traditional old gold and black.
Among other changes, Elsenbaumer said three new schools – a school of education, a music school and a polytechnical school – are being created, and the university is cooperating with Sweetwater Sound in establishing a music technology program on the company's Fort Wayne campus.
The program will open in August. “That will be a huge event,” Elsenbaumer said.
Officials also are now working on an upcoming campuswide reaccreditation, which takes place every 10 years, the chancellor said.
Officials also are evaluating how degree offerings mesh with the needs of regional employers, Elsenbaumer said, adding that in his first 100 days, he has met with more than 200 business and community leaders to discuss their needs and the university's offerings.
But that should not be construed to mean that non-career offerings – in the liberal arts and humanities – are going away, he said in a brief interview after the meeting.
Those fields “are the critical components for careers, and we will be promoting the humanities and the liberal arts,” Elsenbaumer said.
“We are a comprehensive university,” he said. “We'll offer degree programs in just about anything you can think of. It will just be under a different name.”