Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne finally has its long awaited designation – multisystem metropolitan campus.

This new status will empower the 50-year-old university the ability to better serve the region through greater autonomy with its programming and offerings.

The classification is important because the guidelines that govern regional campuses are more restrictive. Moving forward, IPFW will be able to offer more undergraduate and graduate degrees, including doctoral degrees, to meet local economic needs. This will allow the university to offer more degrees that cover a greater number of the STEM areas of study – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

These are the types of degrees that can be put to use in northeast Indiana where manufacturing and biotech industries have such a stronghold.

As Sen. Susan Glick, R-Howe, pointed out at a legislative summary breakfast May 12, IPFW’s new designation is as much about economic development as it is about education.

Only 5 percent of IPFW’s undergraduate students are from out of state. About 92 percent of them commute. Many of these students are balancing family, work and school as they pursue their American dream.

Currently, IPFW is penalized in terms of fudning when its students take more than four years to graduate. But, along with the classification change that came with the governor’s signing of the state budget, the Commission for Higher Education is required to set new performance funding measures. This should enable the university to receive additional funds to further its service in the region.

The “historic outcome,” as the Northeast Indiana Regional Chamber described the redesignation, was in part due to attention focused on the matter by Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne, who introduced a bill to address the issue. While that bill didn’t go far, Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, made sure to have the language included in the final budget bill.

The new budget takes effect July 1. As soon as the IPFW’s designation is also official, the university can begin taking longer strides toward building a workforce that will keep northeast Indiana competitive.

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