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Unification committee to plan PUC, PNC merger

A Purdue North Central student talks with Purdue President Mitch Daniels during break Friday's Board Trustees meeting Westville. | Carole

A Purdue North Central student talks with Purdue President Mitch Daniels during a break at Friday's Board of Trustees meeting in Westville. | Carole Carlson~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 8, 2014 9:40AM



WESTVILLE — Plans for the unification of Purdue University Calumet in Hammond and Purdue North Central should crystallize by September, campus leaders told the university board of trustees on Friday.

PUC Chancellor Thomas Keon and PNC Chancellor James Dworkin gave a joint presentation to the trustees during their regular business meeting at the PNC campus.

The two leaders expect to present an overview of the plan at the Sept. 19 trustees meeting. They said a 26-member unification committee composed of faculty, administrators and students met last week and will meet monthly to iron out obstacles and create a working plan.

“We wanted their input and wanted them to tell us about miscommunication, have an ear to the ground in case of roadblocks or areas overlooked,” Dworkin said.

The merger materialized after university President Mitch Daniels and the board of trustees directed the two campuses to cut administrative costs to keep college affordable for students. PUC, which has about 9,000 students, has a budget of $84.2 million while PNC, with about 4,000 students, has a $32.8 million budget.

The administrative merger was announced last month, with the goal of achieving it by July 2016. Officials said the two campuses, about 35 miles apart, would be preserved, but academic and administrative functions will be streamlined to save money.

The news spread concern and worry among faculty members at each campus. On Friday, Jason Curtis, PNC’s Faculty Senate president, said faculty at both campuses have responded as responsibly as possible given the uncertainty and confusion that followed the announcement.

“This cannot be something we regret or forget,” he said.

Trustee Bruce White, chairman and chief executive of White Lodging in Merrillville, said the merger will make the regional campuses stronger and add value to students and faculty.

“It will improve our recruiting reach into Porter County,” he said.

PNC Student Government Association president Greg Mohlke, of Wanatah, who’s on the unification committee, said money saved can be directed to academic areas such as new faculty and equipment.

“It will increase the presence of Purdue in Northwest Indiana,” he said.

The merged campuses will also receive a new name. Dworkin said there have been about 45 suggestions, and the list will be whittled down to three names by April 28.

Keon said the two campuses will maintain a separate data and admission process until September 2015.

At the request of Daniels, the trustees approved an exception to the university’s retirement rule for Dworkin, allowing him to remain in his job until June 30, 2016. The policy requires staff to retire in the year they turn 65.



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