As classes start, PFW sees enrollment up

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ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 1:00 am

A decades-old campus got a symbolic fresh start Monday as fall classes began at Purdue University Fort Wayne, whose chancellor encouraged students and faculty to build its “very bright” future.

“Let’s work together to create the Purdue University Fort Wayne that is uniquely ours,” Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer said to hundreds gathered for the college’s inaugural fall convocation at the Rhinehart Music Center.

IPFW officially split into Purdue Fort Wayne and Indiana University Fort Wayne on July 1.

“It will be messy at times,” Elsenbaumer continued, “but I think we have proven we are up to the task. We’ve just been through a realignment – a very, very successful realignment – that has challenged us to be creative and resourceful in ways you could have never imagined, and we have emerged stronger than ever.”

Gary Lehman, a Purdue University trustee, characterized the realignment as a merger.

“The city of Fort Wayne, recently recognized as the best city in the state of Indiana for you to live, and Purdue University, one of the top five best public institutions in the nation, coming together – wow,” Lehman said. “What two great brands, two great institutions with great futures coming together in order to address the needs of higher education.”

The distinctions were awarded to Fort Wayne by Business Insider and to Purdue by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education.

Both Elsenbaumer and Carl Drummond, a vice chancellor, noted strong enrollment. Total credit hours are up 1.6 percent and new student enrollment is up by nearly 17 percent among undergraduate students and by nearly 40 percent for graduate students, the chancellor said, describing it as an incredible accomplishment.

Student housing is also in demand, creating a problem any university would want – full occupancy, Elsenbaumer said.

At an institution heavily dependent on tuition revenue, a larger student body is good for its employees, he added.

“I’m very pleased to announce today that having met and exceeded our enrollment projections, we will be in a position to offer a merit program for eligible faculty and staff late this fall,” Elsenbaumer said, acknowledging recent years have been challenging.

Purdue Fort Wayne also will start developing a comprehensive strategic plan, or its “road map to success,” this fall, he said.

“With a clarity of mission and purpose,” Elsenbaumer said, “this institution will become a force to be reckoned with.”

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