On This Day in IUPUI History: February 5, 1969

February 5, 1969. 

On this day, WISH-TV 8 television channel in Indianapolis broadcast an editorial commenting on the recent announcement of the merger of the city campuses of Indiana University and Purdue Universities. The opening line of the editorial took a combative tone. "Indiana and Purdue Universities ought to get serious about an Indianapolis campus," it intoned. The resolution passed by the boards of trustees of both universities and announced on January 28 agreeing "in principle" to a merger was "about as vague a commitment to action as we can imagine." The broadcaster was "put out" by the "pompous attitude" evidenced in the resolution, which only aimed to pass legislation in the 1971 session of the Indiana General Assembly. Why wait until then?

Despite "years of talk," the universities had not taken bold steps to "serve the thousands of local residents who are unable now to go on to college elsewhere, or who want and need to pursue graduate study while continuing their regular employment." Only Indianapolis mayor Richard G. Lugar's December 14, 1968 address calling for an independent state university in the city kicked the universities into action. When would the universities "mean business?" the editorial asked.

The writer of the TV editorial wasn't impressed by the name agreed by the trustees: "Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis." The name was "pretty indicative...that IU and Purdue are still more concerned about their own identities and interests than the true educational needs of Indianapolis. And that's not fair to the people who live and work in this community."

The editorial concluded powerfully by asking university leaders to jettison the "jargon" and "paper pipe-dreams about agreeing to agree to have a school here someday, maybe....Action is needed now."

The editorial elicited a letter from Bob Petranoff of the IU News Bureau in Bloomington, the text of which we do not have, which noted that the two universities had been in communication about a joint Indianapolis campus since 1958. In reply, R. Lee Giles, the news director at WISH, perhaps the writer of the editorial, wrote that that fact only underlined the point that IU and Purdue only got serious when Lugar threatened to take away their city campuses. He admitted that IU and Purdue probably could serve Indianapolis with "greater educational opportunities" than a new state school. "But it does seem IU and Purdue ought to be moving more quickly and firmly" than the timeline announced in the resoution.

This exchange serves as evidence that city leaders and allies did not stop holding the universities' feet to the fire in the aftermath of the merger announcement. Many in Indianapolis continued to call for an independent state university for the city. Others had to be won over.

IUPUI chancellor Maynard K. Hine, 1969 UA24-006757

To learn how IUPUI leaders followed through on the 1969 merger, please consult records in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives speccoll@iupui.edu.

Updated Feb 05, 2019 by setowne