January 14, 1969.
On this day, the Purdue University Board of Trustees met in the Purdue Memorial Center on the West Lafayette campus. The meeting occurred in secret on a Tuesday night, with only board members and Purdue administrators and staffers in attendance. After discussing appointment, admissions, and other issues, the board heard a report from John W. Hicks, executive assistant to President Frederick L. Hovde, regarding developments in the Indiana State House during the current session of the General Assembly. According to minutes of the meeting, Hicks reported that newly inaugurated Governor Ed Whitcomb "expressed strong interest in the current move for development of a single, autonomous university in Indianapolis." He said the governor was cognizant of the cost of such a move and hoped that Purdue and Indiana University would "work on this development," as well as a similar consolidation of university campuses in Lake County.
Next, Vice President Charles H. Lawshe, who oversaw Purdue's regional campuses, reviewed cooperative efforts between IU and Purdue regarding their regional campuses around the state through the years. He noted that "intensive effort during the past two weeks has resulted in a proposal for a similar cooperative venture in Indianapolis." In this case, the plan would consolidate management of "scattered facilities into a single unit." He reported that he and IU Vice President Joseph Hartley had negotiated various matters, including a division of responsibilities and missions. "When the proposed combined operation reaches the point at which the General Assembly may wish to separate it from the home campuses," he reported, "it would become the University of Indianapolis and would be autonomous." IU would assume "prime management" of the Indianapolis operation, while Purdue would manage the combined campus at Fort Wayne. However, he emphasized, this arrangement was not a "quid pro quo."
At this point, Lawshe shared with the board a proposed resolution, a timeline for the consolidation, and an agreed academic-mission assignment, all for the board to consider. He noted that if the Purdue board approved the merger resolution, IU president Joseph L. Sutton would take it to the IU Board of Trustees for their approval on January 24.
The minutes indicate that "Interested discussion followed."
Lawshe added his personal belief that "in this age of inadequate resources, an individual can gain nothing for the institution to which he is loyal by trying to cling to everything." The board members then unanimously adopted the merger resolution.
Dr. Lawshe urged the board to keep silence on their action. There was, he said, a "strong need for very tight security in this matter in order to reduce problems of many kinds." He suggested that the university presidents make a joint announcement "at the appropriate time."
Afterwards, John Hicks added his view that "the relationship between Indiana and Purdue Universities has never been better than it is at this moment."
The Purdue board then moved on to other matters.
The first official step toward merging the Indianapolis campuses having thus been taken, the ball moved into IU's court. In the coming days IU's trustees received information on the proposed merger and their Purdue counterparts' approval of it. At this time Indianapolis politicians were calling for a completely autonomous state university in the city. The Purdue board meeting minutes suggest that Purdue officials were fearful that the state legislature would take away their and IU's Indianapolis assets. Lawshe's comments expressed resignation that the General Assembly would go so far.
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