Weekly Features


IUPUC shares many ties with Indy campus

December 6, 2016

Outside on the IUPUC grounds

IUPUC is becoming more student-friendly, featuring public art, green spaces, and more benches and seating areas for people to relax between classes.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis shares a lot with Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus -- and it's more than just a similar name.

IUPUC, the widely used name for the Columbus center, was established in 1970 as an extension of IUPUI. The Indianapolis campus was launched just one year before the Bartholomew County site, which was originally known as IUPUI-Columbus.

The center owes its presence to a group of industry leaders who wanted a four-year institution of higher education located in Columbus.

Like IUPUI, Columbus offered classes at a wide range of sites throughout the city as well as in other municipalities in the eight-county area it serves. It didn't take long -- less than a year, in fact -- for the classes to be moved to a facility near Bakalar Municipal Airport, now called Columbus Municipal Airport.

IUPUC still calls the former Civilian Personnel Building at the airport its home, but circumstances have changed. The Indiana General Assembly approved funding for science and technology labs and a new exterior of the IUPUC building in 1984. A year later, the IU Trustees approved plans to expand and renovate the Columbus center.

Like IUPUI, the IUPUC campus has skywalks.

As on the IUPUI campus, the skywalk in Columbus is nicknamed the "gerbil tube" -- yet another connection between IUPUI and IUPUC.

Columbus center filled a gap

From the outset, Columbus fulfilled a need, providing a more convenient way for south-central Indiana students to pursue their higher education goals, often while working part-time or full-time jobs. It also provided lifelong learning opportunities for adults who wanted to improve their professional prospects.

By 1994, IUPUI Chancellor Gerald L. Bepko announced that the Columbus center would have a new name: Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, or IUPUC.

Roughly four of every 10 IUPUC students come from Columbus and Bartholomew County. But the center also is an attractive option to students from the other counties in the region, including:

  • Bartholomew
  • Brown
  • Decatur
  • Jackson
  • Jennings
  • Johnson
  • Ripley
  • Shelby

The area is scenic, a blend of rural areas, small towns and business centers such as Columbus, Greensburg, Seymour, Shelbyville and Franklin. The region's economic foundation ranges from agriculture to small businesses to large operations like Cummins Corporation (in Columbus) and Honda Manufacturing (in Greensburg).

IUPUC has provided the business community with well-trained graduates armed with IU or Purdue degrees -- and most IUPUC students enter (or return to) to the regional workforce after graduation.

IUPUC has many success stories, from faculty contributions in animal-assisted therapy and autism research to staff leadership in higher education to students involved in research projects, child safety seat improvements and entrepreneurial business practices.

Faculty and students explore a variety of subjects.

Columbus has a high faculty-to-student ratio, giving students strong academic support.

Student attractions

Like the Indianapolis-IUPUI connection, Columbus offers a great expanded area for students to work, play and attend college.

Columbus has significant appeal, featuring "the best city park system in the U.S.," according to the National Recreation and Park Association, and is ranked among the 100 best communities for young people according to America's Promise Alliance. It is situated less than 30 minutes away from the scenic hills of Brown County.

Columbus is also renowned for architecture and public art, with more than 60 buildings designed by such highly regarded architects as I.M. Pei, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Richard Meier, and Harry Weese, and works of art created by such renowned figures as sculptors Dale Chihuly and Henry Moore. The city has been ranked among the nation's leaders in architectural innovation and design by the American Institute of Architects. It is also home to the IU Center for Art and Design, which opened in 2011.

The Columbus area has some famous connections: Vice President-elect Mike Pence is from the area, and Brown County native Charles Hollis "Chuck" Taylor, who helped establish Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers as a best-selling basketball shoe for Converse after wearing Converse shoes while a high school basketball player, attended and played at Columbus High School.

Vice chancellor Reginald Hill meets IUPUC students often around campus.

Vice Chancellor and Dean Reinhold Hill is head of the Columbus center, a post once held by IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar.

IUPUC operations

IUPUC is connected to IUPUI in many ways. It is governed by the IUPUI policies, and its leaders report to the IUPUI administration.

Reinhold Hill is the vice chancellor and dean of IUPUC and reports to IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar -- one of Hill's IUPUC predecessors -- and Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Johnson.

Faculty are eligible for the same support as IUPUI faculty and are hired to serve specifically at IUPUC. Tenure for IUPUC faculty is center-specific. Many IUPUC faculty serve on committees based in Indianapolis.

City provides backdrop to IUPUC campus.

IUPUC students have many options when classes are done for the day, with public art installations, galleries, restaurants, diners and dessert shops, and the Commons (pictured).

Human resources needs for faculty and staff are handled by a team of HR professionals: IUPUC has an onsite representative, but also enjoys central support from IUPUI and from University Human Resources for those needs.

Degree options

Students at Columbus can complete 10 undergraduate and two graduate degree programs exclusively at IUPUC, but they may take courses at IUPUI if they choose.

IUPUC students who pursue degrees not offered in their entirety at Columbus often transfer to IUPUI to complete their degree work. Columbus students are able to register for classes, obtain financial aid, and receive advising and other academic support services without traveling to Indianapolis.

The student population was about 1,527 part- and full-time students in 2015-16, about 65 percent of whom are under the age of 24. Check out the degree programs available at IUPUC.

IUPUC has developed regional partnerships to strengthen the impact of higher education within its service area, sharing facilities with Ivy Tech Community College and the Purdue University College of Technology.


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