Incoming IPFW/Purdue Fort Wayne chancellor talks changes

Incoming IPFW chancellor, Ron Elsenbaumer, answered media questions about his goals Tuesday in Walb Student Union during a visit to the campus. He'll become chancellor Nov. 1. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Incoming IPFW chancellor, Ron Elsenbaumer, right, stops to talk to students Tuesday in Walb Student Union during a visit to the campus. He'll become chancellor Nov. 1. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)

IPFW’s incoming chancellor, Ron Elsenbaumer, who starts Nov. 1, sees the changes occurring at the campus as beneficial to its students.

“We are here for the students,” said Elsenbaumer, most recently a special advisor on entrepreneurship and economic development to the president of the University of Texas at Arlington. While change is unsettling, it must be done to ensure students’ success.

A Purdue alumnus with an academic and business background, Elsenbaumer will be the 10th chancellor at IPFW. However, he will be the first chancellor of Purdue University Fort Wayne when Indiana University and Purdue split July 1 at the campus at 2101 Coliseum Blvd. E. that they have shared since 1964. Elsenbaumer, who said he is a first-generation college graduate in his family, sees the changes as beneficial for graduates.

Graduates did not receive IPFW degrees, he pointed out Tuesday during a talk with media at the university, but rather earned them from Purdue, based in West Lafayette, and IU, based in Bloomington. Continuing as a Purdue regional campus, “We’ll live up to that name,” said Elsenbaumer, who is replacing the retiring Vicky Carwein. She has overseen the university since 2012.

Ensuring the success of the school’s graduates is foremost to Elsenbaumer.

“We’re transforming lives,” he said. “Our graduates get jobs.”

And as the average worker changes jobs 7-10 times during his or her lifetimes, employers looking at a candidate having graduated from Purdue University Fort Wayne means the name must mean something, he said.

He knows that the realignment of degrees and programs over the past year was difficult. Among the changes: degree programs for French, geology, German and philosophy ended, and IU will maintain control of the campus’ School of Medicine along with inheriting additional medical programs from Purdue. The realignment followed January 2016 recommendation after more than a year of study by the Legislative Services Agency, directed by the Indiana General Assembly, that IPFW transition to two separate universities. The changes created anger and frustration among some faculty, staff and students.

Individuals can have different viewpoints, but understanding and listening to those viewpoints is required, he said.

Working with Purdue President Mitch Daniels was one of the things that drew Elsenbaumer to the job, because Daniels’ changes are being looked at nationwide, he said, though he didn’t give specifics. Daniels, a former Indiana governor, received praise from Purdue’s trustees during his recent performance review, and his yearly salary now tops $769,000 a year. Most recently, he led Purdue to acquire for-profit Kaplan University and operate it online as Purdue NewU.