Our viewpoint: IUPUC rebrand is more than just name change

Aim Media Indiana

The transformation that will happen in the coming years at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus has the potential to expand and focus local educational offerings as the institution rebrands.

Following the lead of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the Columbus affiliate that originally was called Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis-Columbus also is reorganizing.

Just as IUPUI earlier this year announced it would form two independent academic organizations — the larger of which will be known as Indiana University Indianapolis — locals in the near future will know the school as IU Columbus.

These reorganizations are part of IU President Pamela Whitten’s IU 2030 initiative, under which each campus must prepare a seven-year plan by March 2023. As The Republic’s Andy East reported, the IU and Purdue components that constitute IUPUC will split into separate schools in the next couple of years with the rebranding to IU Columbus expected on or around July 1, 2024.

“I fully expect that IUPUC will become IU Columbus and continue to be a part of the IU Indianapolis operation,” IUPUI Chancellor Andrew Klein told The Republic. “The programs that IU runs in Columbus are really important to the state and to the Columbus community, and I fully expect those will continue and hopefully grow and thrive.”

Those are the expectations we have for IUPUC, which has served the community well for more than 50 years. More than 1,400 students are enrolled, and the IU 2030 process presents an opportunity that should be welcome to students who are seeking a degree through either Indiana or Purdue.

And to be clear, this is much more than just a name change.

As IUPUC Vice Chancellor and Dean Reinhold Hill said, the university is “exploring ways in which we can enrich and expand the higher education offerings from our campus to better serve the region.”

For its part, Purdue says it is committed to the mechanical engineering program and is expected to take over operations of a bachelor’s degree program currently offered through IUPUC, East reported.

Local stakeholders from the education, civic and business sectors are excited about the changes.

In fact, Cummins President and Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Rumsey was among those who hailed the realignment plans when they were announced this summer.

“We applaud the leaders of both universities for their continued strategic thinking and approach and how it will bolster our collective effort to increase the number of STEM graduates,” she said at the time.

In truth, the mid-20th century roots of IUPUI, and by extension, IUPUC, were a marriage of convenience and efficiency that allowed the state’s two leading public universities to pool resources and establish a statewide network of campuses to serve students and communities.

But that was then.

Now, it makes sense for local students on track for an IU degree or those seeking a degree from Purdue to do so through institutions that will bring a stronger focus to the strengths of those very distinct programs.

But the bottom line is this: Both IU and Purdue offer strong educational programs through IUPUC, and there is every reason to believe the realignment now underway will only improve those offerings.