March 29, 1971.
On this day, Onomatopoeia, the student newspaper of the "westside campus" of IUPUI, reported that the Indiana General Assembly had voted to create a Commission for Higher Education, a state agency to oversee Indiana's institutions of higher education. The CHE, dubbed the "weak board of regents," would have the power only to review university budgets and not amend them in any way. In this way, Indiana University and Purdue University retained their much-cherished independence.
Readers of this blog will recall that in his December 14, 1968, televised speech calling for an independent state university for Indianapolis, city mayor Richard G. Lugar had also called for a state board of regents to be established to bring the state schools under control and reallocate funds to a new university in the metropolis. Legislators allied to the mayor introduced bills to create a board of regents. IU and Purdue's merger of their Indianapolis campuses was a move to head off losing their city assets as well as to stop a regents move. Two years later, the universities succeeded in watering down legislation to limit state oversight over them.
The issue of the student newspaper contained other content relative to IUPUI's place in the higher-education firmament. Weeks before it had published a student poll showing support for autonomy from IU and Purdue. But a student protested that the survey was not valid and IUPUI benefited from ties to Bloomington and West Lafayette. It also ran an opinion piece penned by History professor Miriam Langsam noting that the faculty were much exercised on the issue. "I personally feel," she wrote, "that Bloomington and Lafayette are just beginning to understand the new creature being born in Indianapolis. If this growing awareness is followed up [by] financial encouragement, cooperation and a concern for our development, then I for one would be proud to remain affiliated with both institutions."
Two years after the merger, IUPUI was still in a ferment over autonomy.
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives has records documenting the attitudes of students, faculty, and staff on the issues of independence and autonomy. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.