Moving Forward Together: PNW faculty address issues and rumors, confirm Westville campus will remain open

PNW’s administration confirmed last week during the Moving Forward Together forum that the Westville campus will remain open, dispelling a growing concern among faculty, staff and students.

Speculation surrounding the closing of the campus, which has seen enrollment declines and subsequent class cancellations, has increased this year following the announcement of Imagine PNW, the academic program prioritization plan, and recurring budget difficulties.

Steve Turner, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, said that due to Westville’s spacious land and resources, the campus has the most potential out of any other campus in the Purdue school system.

Chris Holford, dean of the College of Engineering and Sciences, said Purdue’s Trustees, Purdue University President, Mitch Daniels, Chancellor Keon and the senior leaders are “not interested” in closing the campus.

“We are here to stay,” Holford said.

Moderators of the event said a greater emphasis will be placed on growing PNW’s alumni community and increasing reach through the redesign of marketing and branding, as well as other initiatives such as the integration of banded tuition, 1-on-1 meetings between Chancellor Keon and the Westville faculty, community outreach in La Porte County and a new budget model and university plan, which is a component of Imagine PNW.

The information discussed at the forum received a mixed response: some attendees were pleased to see a plan for the campus laid out in detail; many others were both confused and frustrated about PNW’s current state and wanted clearer answers. Present at the forum was the lingering acrimony surrounding the 2016 merger of the Hammond and Westville campuses, which many believe to be the root of PNW’s recent speedbumps.

“It seems to me that this merger is not so much a unification but rather a marriage of convenience,” Alex Heaton, SGA Chief of Staff, said.

Despite such feelings, the moderators were optimistic about the campus and the community, and satisfied with the discourse that occurred at the forum.

“One of the things that impressed me was the faculty talking about the student perspective,” Holford said. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that the faculty and staff talk about and be invested in the student population.”