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The Journal Gazette

  • Wyss

  • Mirro

Sunday, May 14, 2017 1:00 am

Two jobs, one big obligation: Set a course for campus

Two job vacancies at IPFW are important not just for students and faculty, but for all of Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana.

The individuals tapped to serve as chancellor of Purdue University Fort Wayne and as administrator of Indiana University's health-related programs here are key to a successful campus-community partnership.

As a Purdue search committee begins the process of selecting a chancellor and as IU officials consider the role their Fort Wayne representative will play, community leaders should be vocal in reminding both institutions of the region's needs.

Purdue's selection process for chancellor is promising on that front. The successful candidate “will have proven ability to build effective relationships with the leaders, businesses and civic organizations of the northeast Indiana community” and will “raise funds to support the institution and its strategic priorities,” according to the position profile.

Tom Wyss, an IPFW graduate and former state senator, is one of 11 members of the search committee. He said he's been emphatic that the new chancellor must work with the local business community to help serve the region's interests.

“I was never a supporter of the split,” he said of the division of Purdue and IU programs. “But it's been done, and now we have to look at what we can do to ensure the future – that's with picking the right person.”

The committee's timeline is tight, with interviews, selection of finalists and public forums tentatively set for June and a recommendation to Purdue President Mitch Daniels in July. IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein announced her retirement early last month but – to her credit – agreed to stay on to help with transition to the new structure, which will require a larger Purdue role in some areas.

One expanded role will be in music studies – Purdue's first and only music degree program – represents both the potential and need for partnerships. IPFW's Department of Music now awards IU degrees, but credit for its strong reputation belongs here – with a distinguished faculty lending their talents as musicians and instructors throughout the community. 

Like Wyss, Sweetwater founder Chuck Surack initially wasn't happy with IPFW's realignment, but he's now enthusiastic for the potential offered by start-up programs in a new music program overseen by Purdue. 

Community collaboration also is important to the future of IU's health-related programs.

John Applegate, executive vice president for academic affairs for the IU system, said there won't be a chancellor overseeing the programs, but the university will select an individual to serve as the “external face” for Fort Wayne programs.

IU Trustee Michael Mirro, a Fort Wayne cardiologist, told our editorial board the university now can bring more resources to Fort Wayne and “make the IU brand stand out.”

Northeast Indiana residents can't be faulted for their uneasiness over campus changes.

But with the right individuals in place, they could soon be enthusiastic supporters of both Purdue Fort Wayne and IU Fort Wayne.