Listen Live
What to Know About IUPUI Split

Source: Jenna Watson/Mirror Indy

Story by Claire Rafford

INDIANAPOLIS–Last week, IUPUI students returned from spring break to a surprise: a huge “IU” symbol on the roof of the campus center.

The shiny new signage is a hint of what’s to come as IUPUI inches closer to officially becoming IU Indianapolis and Purdue in Indianapolis in July.

The universities have been working to hammer out details since the split was first announced in August 2022. To recap how we got here, Purdue will take the engineering and technology programs, and IU will keep all other academic concentrations, including the life sciences and liberal arts majors. Purdue’s Department of Music and Arts Technology also moved to IU’s Herron School of Art & Design. 

By this point, students and faculty know which school they’ll fall under.

But because the majority of academic programs, facilities and students are staying with IU in the divorce, lots of questions remain about how Purdue plans to establish itself in Indianapolis.

We attempted to answer those questions below. Many of these came from a Mirror Indy survey asking readers to submit questions and thoughts about the IUPUI split.

Can Purdue in Indianapolis students get student tickets to West Lafayette sports games?

It’s no surprise we got this question. After all, Purdue’s men’s basketball team is a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.

The answer is yes, Purdue students in Indy will be able to attend West Lafayette sports games, said David Umulis, senior vice provost for Purdue University in Indianapolis.

The university will offer transportation from Indianapolis to West Lafayette that will ramp up during peak times, like during football and basketball games.

“There’s been a lot of work with athletics and student life to make sure that students have access to those experiences,” Umulis said.

Will IUPUI athletes with Purdue majors be able to continue playing sports?

In the split, all IUPUI athletic teams are going to IU Indianapolis. While IU Indianapolis will still be the Jaguars, the school will not recruit students who are interested in pursuing engineering or other Purdue degrees going forward.

“We have no doubt we’ll continue to be successful in terms of recruitment and retaining prospective student-athletes,” said Ed Holdaway, IUPUI’s senior associate athletic director for external affairs.

But that leaves a handful of current student-athletes hanging in the balance. The NCAA dictates that students cannot play sports at a school where they’re not enrolled.

Holdaway told Mirror Indy the IUPUI athletics department is working to remedy this by requesting a blanket NCAA waiver for all current IUPUI athletes who will be Purdue students come July. Holdaway estimated that around 20 of IUPUI’s 260 student-athletes would be studying at Purdue come July.

Though that waiver deal is not yet final, Holdaway said it’s “well in progress” and that the athletics office is confident all current student-athletes will be able to play sports and continue with their education. Athletic scholarships for those Purdue students, should the waiver deal pass, would remain the same.

Holdaway is hoping the waiver process will be completed this spring.

I’m an IUPUI grad. How does this affect my degree?

The schools have always operated separately when it comes to granting degrees. That won’t change after the split.

Engineering and technology students received Purdue degrees, whereas students studying liberal arts, for example, earned IU degrees.

What resources will Purdue students have in Indianapolis?

Purdue is essentially starting from scratch in Indianapolis. The school’s aim is to attract 800 first-year students, along with around 2,650 continuing graduate and undergraduate students, according to a presentation given to Purdue’s board of trustees in December.

Umulis said the university’s vision for Indianapolis relies heavily on in-person experiences and resources. Purdue plans to have several therapists and tutors, a financial aid office, writing lab, a disability resource center and experiential education to assist with career counseling and internships.

Students also will have access to some IU amenities, such as the library, gym, pool and campus center.

Purdue’s already hired many employees, but they’re still hiring several more, including at least one staff therapist, according to the Purdue jobs board.

“There’ll be a full breadth of what you’d expect in a campus experience,” Umulis said.

Where will Purdue’s campus be, and what will it look like?

Purdue is looking to develop 28 acres of land just north of Michigan Street, south of Indiana Avenue and west of West Street, near the Madam Walker Legacy Center. The Indiana General Assembly approved $60 million for a new Purdue academic and student success center, including amenities, classroom space and dorms.

Purdue also will lease five IUPUI engineering and technology buildings from IU to use for classes and lab research.

Beyond the campus boundaries, Purdue is planning to house its executive education program at High Alpha in the Bottleworks District along Mass Ave.

What are Purdue’s future plans to make a mark in Indianapolis?

Purdue plans to operate in Indianapolis as an extension of its West Lafayette campus, Umulis said.

The school plans to lean into Indianapolis’ reputation as a sports town by bolstering its motorsports engineering program and launching a new master’s degree in sports engineering.

Purdue also plans to focus on the industry opportunities in Indianapolis and surrounding areas, such as Lebanon’s LEAP (Limitless Exploration/Advanced Pace) district, which the state is leveraging as a manufacturing and innovation supercomplex. The school also is creating a graduate degree in pharmaceutical engineering, likely to prepare students for careers at Eli Lilly.

“There’s going to be a very large need for additional highly trained engineers and tech leaders,” Umulis said.

As for undergraduate students, Purdue plans to provide more internships to keep students in-state after graduating, a major priority for the state’s Commission for Higher Education. The school is working with several local talent development organizations, including Conexus Indiana and Ascend Indiana, to help connect students with Indianapolis companies.

What are Purdue’s long-term plans for student housing?

Purdue has leased two-thirds of North Hall, an IUPUI dorm, and 400 beds at Lux on Capitol, an apartment complex just off campus at Michigan Street and Capitol Avenue.

Purdue has access to North Hall for an indefinite period of time, with an option to eventually purchase.

The Lux on Capitol lease is for the next two academic years, according to a lease document approved by the university’s board of trustees. Both buildings will embed Purdue resident assistants and learning communities.

Long-term, the plans are more vague. Purdue’s Q&A said the school is considering building a new dorm, but nothing concrete has been announced at this time.

Will Purdue students be able to take IU electives?

Purdue engineering students take a prescribed first-year curriculum that includes math and science courses, as well as several communication electives.

Five professors will be coming from West Lafayette to teach those introductory courses, making the curriculum standard across both Purdue campuses.

[Urban Beekeepers at IU Indianapolis welcome students from all majors.]

“It doesn’t matter where you’re sitting in Purdue University in terms of what you can expect in these types of courses,” Umulis said. “It will be provided and consistent across the two locations.”

Indianapolis Purdue students also will be able to take classes in West Lafayette, though Umulis acknowledged the drive isn’t the most convenient.

As for classes outside of Purdue, the school is working toward a program for Purdue students to be able to take elective classes at IU Indianapolis as “visiting students.” Similarly, IU students would be able to take Purdue electives according to the transfer agreement between the schools.

Students will not have to transfer out to take those classes.

“It’s important for students to have access to the breadth of those types of different areas,” Umulis said.