The Higher Learning Commission approved the creation of Purdue University Northwest, the result of the unification of Purdue University Calumet and Purdue University North Central, effective Friday (March 4).
Michael Berghoff, chair of the Purdue Board of Trustees, said the HLC approval, along with the November naming of Thomas Keon as chancellor-designate to lead Purdue Northwest, will keep the process on track to build what will be the state’s fifth-largest public university.
“Tom has been involved with this process from the start, and he understands not just the challenges of bringing together two campuses, but also the ultimate promise that Purdue Northwest holds for the region’s cultural and commercial enrichment,” Berghoff said. “We are grateful to him and Jim Dworkin for bringing this bold concept forward and for bringing it to fruition.”
Keon, who has been chancellor of Purdue Calumet since 2011, said his new role at Purdue Northwest means finding the best way to combine the strengths and resources of the two existing institutions into a single university that provides enhanced opportunities for students and more options for community engagement and professional development.
“Unifying two Purdue regional campuses into one unparalleled Purdue University Northwest enables us to combine and allocate resources in ways that strengthen academic programs; benefit students, faculty and staff; increase institutional value; and expand opportunities for economic growth and development across northwest Indiana,” Keon said. “Satisfying the many components of our PNW unification process has been laborious and challenging, but thanks to the hard work and commitment by faculty and staff of both our campuses, we are excited to move forward as Purdue University Northwest.”
James B. Dworkin, who has served as chancellor of Purdue North Central since 2000, and Keon were instrumental in spearheading the Purdue Northwest unification process. Dworkin will remain as North Central’s chancellor through June 30, then will take a one-year sabbatical before returning to the West Lafayette campus as a full professor in Krannert School of Management, where he began his Purdue career in 1976.
“I am very pleased that the Higher Learning Commission has approved the application for Purdue University Calumet and Purdue University North Central to become Purdue University Northwest,” Dworkin said. “This is a history-making day for all of us. So many of our faculty, staff and students worked very hard to make this day possible. Purdue Northwest is a tremendous asset to northwest Indiana. I am confident that PNW will soon be considered a statewide leader in education, economic development and innovation.”
Purdue Northwest will be a comprehensive university enrolling more than 15,000 students, employing some 1,500 faculty and staff, and offering more than 70 graduate and undergraduate programs of study on two campuses – Calumet in Hammond and North Central in Westville.
As chancellor-designate, Keon will be responsible for working with stakeholders from the two existing campuses to advance academic quality, student success and affordability. He also is charged with engaging with local employers and community leaders to ensure that the new institution is meeting the needs of the regional economy.
Purdue trustees approved the creation of Purdue University Northwest in July 2014, reflecting the university’s commitment to finding administrative cost savings and promoting student affordability and accessibility. Trustees in October 2015 also approved a plan to unify the academic structures of the two campuses into six colleges.
A website with updates on the integration process is available at http://www.unifynorthcentralcalumet.org/.