WESTVILLE | Members of the Board of Trustees for Purdue University had nothing but good things to say about the consolidation of Purdue University Calumet in Hammond and Purdue University North Central in Westville.
Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon and Purdue North Central Chancellor James Dworkin presented a status report on the "unification committee" work at the Purdue Board of Trustees meeting Friday at the Westville campus.
The chancellors said the goal of the unification initiative is to enable a stronger Purdue presence in Northwest Indiana by streamlining and combining administrative functions and reinvesting those saved resources in academic programs and faculty.
The first step in the consolidation was the appointment of Stephen R. Turner as the vice chancellor for Finance and Administration for both Purdue University North Central and Purdue University Calumet effective April 1.
Trustee and local businessman Bruce White said as an employer with more than 11,000 employees across the country, he is really excited about the unification of the two campuses. "It will make the university stronger. It gets me very excited. We have confidence in the outcome and investment. This is going to be great for the university and the community." he said.
Trustee Gary Lehman said one of the things that he is very pleased about is that it is a "bottom-up" initiative. He said he gives both chancellors a lot of credit for developing the idea and seeing it through.
Trustee Vanessa Castagna asked chancellors what were they doing to involve students and the community. Both chancellors said they are working with the community and members of the student body are on the unification committee.
As the consolidation moves forward, chancellors said some things like facilities and the police force will be seamless while other things like academic courses and student data records will take much more time.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels said the action is in the hands of the two chancellors and the main university would not interfere in the consolidation efforts.
"We are not going to tell them how to do this," he said. "They have a great concept and administration. The board is enthusiastic. We are not going to micromanage it. At this point at least, there is nothing that needs the board's ratification. We try to operate on the basis of as much autonomy as possible for the various regional campuses. They know their students, they know their community and they know their region."
Dworkin said the whole idea is to have administrative savings "to plow" back into students, faculty and scholarship.
Keon said issues such as courses, course alternatives, student data, admissions and degree offerings will take some time, and they also will need to consult with the Indiana Higher Education Commission on some issues.
"This coming school year, our admissions departments will remain separate," Keon said. University leaders also are accepting suggestions for a new name for the consolidated university through April 9. The top choices will be selected the week of April 28 and could be presented to the Board of Trustees in mid-May.