On This Day in IUPUI History: March 11, 1970

March 11, 1970. 

On this day, Indianapolis mayor Richard G. Lugar asked for IUPUI's help in solving the problems of local government.

The Indianapolis mayor spoke to the faculty of IUPUI's 38th Street Campus, where the university's engineering, technology, and science programs were located. "Universities have an obligation" to help units of local government owing to their physical proximity and specialist knowledge, he said. He encouraged faculty scholars to engage their "expert backgrounds" to "become involved as citizens." 

Lugar noted that, over a year since both his December 1968 speech chastising Indiana University and Purdue University for failing to serve the higher-education needs of Indianapolis and the merger that created IUPUI, he was still in favor of the establishment of an independent state university in Indianapolis. However, he admitted that IUPUI, with its greater autonomy and self-rule, fit somewhere between his goal of independence and continued control by IU and Purdue.

At one time, the mayor noted, city leaders had not been "particularly interested in public higher education." And IU and Purdue had showed little interest in erecting laboratories in the city. But things had changed. Since his speech an atmosphere of cooperation had arisen. He applauded both Purdue and IU for paying more attention to their Indianapolis campuses. He noted that the recent downtown building boom had come about in part because investors wished to be near the university. He urged campus leaders to speed up efforts to consolidate all parts of IUPUI at its downtown location adjacent to the IU Medical Center. He also reiterated his support for a state board of regents to govern the state universities. 

Lugar's speech to the 38th Street faculty showed that political leaders in the city were still not sold on the IUPUI merger. Lugar and others still preferred a new, independent state university unconnected to IU and Purdue. His continued support for a board of regents was anathema to IU and Purdue leaders, who relished their independence from significant oversight. But he and the other city politicians were willing to cooperate with existing university leadership to develop higher education opportunities for citizens and businesses.

Indianapolis mayor Richard G. Lugar, 1970 UA24-007343

Interested in studying town-gown relations in Indianapolis? Stop by IUPUI Special Collections and Archives to see lots of interesting records on the subject. Contact us at speccoll@iupui.edu.

Updated Mar 11, 2019 by Editor Name Missing