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Celebrating 40 Years of Excellence!

1969 - 2009


The Irwin Years

The Irwin Years

It was 1969 when the Indianapolis extensions of Indiana University and Purdue University would merge to become Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis I-U-P-U-I. If anyone had ever questioned IUPUI's destiny as a major urban university, the institution's growth in its early years should have removed all doubt.

"It was obvious at the end of my term - this was becoming a major urban university," says Glenn W. Irwin Jr., who in 1973, became the second chancellor of the IUPUI campus.

Irwin says his tenure was marked by "rapid growth of facilities, marked increase in the number of total faculty members, and marked increase in the number of degrees offered by Indiana University and Purdue University and we remained IUPUI and not the University of Indianapolis.

"During my term as chancellor, there was a bill every year in the legislature to make this all the University of Indianapolis and I had a lot of things to do to kind of block that," Irwin said.

The second chancellor's major challenge was trying to meet budgetary needs.

"The Indiana General Assembly had some very lean years, and there we were urgently needing to add fulltime faculty and staff and that was very hard to do without getting outside money to do it.

"That was the thing occupying most of my time....I remember one year during my tenure our enrollment dropped over a thousand students because times were good so everybody was working. And that dropped our income from the Indiana Assembly substantially... (but) we survived."

Some would say that the campus did more than survive.

Its operating budget grew from $97 million to $409 million; $200 million in new construction was completed; the full-time faculty increased from 800 to 1,300; sponsored research increased from $21.3 million to $40.7 million; and the 50,000th graduate had earned a degree at commencements, according to Irwin's autobiography.

The current generation of IUPUI students can take pride in the history of their campus, says the retired administrator.

"There are a lot of firsts here....first Indiana hospital, first and largest school of physical education in the country, one of the oldest schools of social work in the country, the largest school of nursing in the nation, and that's just the start," he says.