February 17, 1969.
On this day, WFBM television and radio stations ran an editorial in support of the creation of a state board of regents to control the running of public universities in Indiana. The idea had been raised in Mayor Richard G. Lugar's December 14, 1968 televised speech calling for an independent state university in Indianapolis. In the speech, Lugar called on the Indiana General Assembly to strip Indiana University and Purdue University of their Indianapolis operations and vest them in a new, independent state university. As part of his threat, the mayor called for the creation of a board of regents to oversee all state universities. To date, Indiana's state universities had had no central oversight or control.
The WFBM editorial was part of city politicians' orchestrated effort to press IU and Purdue to act to develop better higher-education options and facilities to serve the metropolis. The recently announced merger of IU and Purdue campuses in Indianapolis did not satisfy city leaders, who did not trust the universities' motives in the merger.
Indianapolis legislators linked to Mayor Lugar had introduced identical bills in the state House and state Senate to create a board of regents. The bills had begun to advance through the respective chambers of the General Assembly. The bills called for a twelve-member board appointed by the governor. The board and its staff would have powers to investigate and review operations at all the state universities. The regents would have authority to recommend state appropriations of tax monies to the schools. They would also have the power to create new state universities.
The WFBM editorial voiced support for greater oversight of the state universities. "[W]hen you're putting 3 or 4-hundred million dollars a biennium of taxpayers' money into higher education, it's hard to argue that you don't need, or shouldn't have, a coordinating body to see that these schools meet the needs of the people without wasteful duplication of effort."
In the end, a board of regents was not created. However, the Indiana Commission on Higher Education was later established by the General Assembly. It fulfills some of the duties that Indianapolis politicians called for in 1969.
In the coming years, legislators continued to call for an independent state university in Indianapolis. They believed IU and Purdue were dragging their feet and continued to pressure Bloomington and West Lafayette to allocate resources to IUPUI to allow the campus to meet the growing needs of the city.
To learn more about the birth of IUPUI, please consult records in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.