February 7, 1969.
On this day, Indiana state representative Donald T. Nelson of Indianapolis introduced House Bill 2023 during the ongoing session of the Indiana General Assembly. The bill would create a "State University of Indianapolis."
While the boards of trustees of Indiana University and Purdue University had days before agreed to merge their Indianapolis campuses in an attempt to head off losing them to a threat posed by Mayor Richard G. Lugar to form a new state university, some city politicians were not satisfied. They wanted an independent state university to provide better educational opportunities to residents and city businesses. They did not believe the merger plan would satisfy city needs. They continued their clamor for action.
Rep. Nelson's bill would establish a new state university in the city on July 1, 1970, led by its own board of trustees. It would have its own budget approved by the General Assembly in its 1971 session. The undergraduate programs in Indianapolis of IU and Purdue would be transferred to it, including all real estate and equipment. It provided for collaboration with IU and PU in running existing graduate and professional programs.
The bill's language stipulated that the new university "shall forthwith develop, or if programs exist, expand programs of instruction in arts, business, education, engineering, fine art, humanities, physical education and recreation and urban affairs, with regard to providing a firm foundation for expansion into broad undergraduate and graduate education."
During the session and in future sessions, the bill and others like it did not pass. The state "University of Indianapolis" did not come to fruition. However, ongoing efforts by legislators and city political leaders to create an independent state university in the city made sure that IU and Purdue leaders did not backslide on their commitment to the newly merged campus. Indianapolis needed a vibrant and comprehensive public university was needed to propel the city's economic and cultural development. A strong, growing, and responsive IUPUI was necessary to make the city attractive and competitive.
To study the relationship between Indianapolis and IUPUI, please consult records in IUPUI Special Collections and Archives. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.