“Great state university in Indianapolis,” established in 1969
Only a few years before The International Center was created, Indiana University and Purdue University combined to create Indianapolis’ first urban university focused on the community – not just in Indianapolis, but across the entire world.
In 1968, Mayor Richard Lugar called Indiana to action, challenging higher education institutions to invest in the Hoosier state and our capital city.
“For many years, many voices have called for a great State University to be established in Indianapolis,” Lugar said in his broadcast. “The great cities of the world have many common features which stimulate greater vitality in the central city and a greater variety of experiences for every citizen in surrounding regions. A key factor in each great city is the strength of a distinguished city university.”
In 1969, city planners finally answered the call—and Indiana University and Purdue University merged their programs to create Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
During its first commencement in 1970, IUPUI awarded degrees to 1,535 individuals. Now, IUPUI offers more than 550 degree and certificate programs with more than 27,000 students currently enrolled. The university has experienced steady growth over the past decades with milestones too numerous to count, including new schools, world firsts, and famous alumni. A few notable landmarks include their world-class Natatorium, the renowned Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, a new School of Public Health, and the only School of Dentistry in Indiana.
“IUPUI has always had a slightly different scope of its mission because it’s always been about community,” said Dr. Hilary Kahn, Associate Vice Chancellor for International Affairs. “Over the years and with Richard Lugar’s support, we have expanded on the notion of what a community is. For us, it has become not just our local state, but the world.”
In 1989, IUPUI established the Office of International Affairs to help connect Indianapolis with the world. This pivotal moment demonstrated the university’s commitment to focus on global engagement. Under the leadership of vanguards such as Dean William Plater and Associate Vice Chancellor Susan Sutton, the Office expanded IUPUI’s programs by internationalizing the curriculum, increasing communication and research, and forging strong international partnerships.
“International education allows us to break through the barrier of the status quo,” said Dr. Kahn. “Students need a global education because the world is not local. Indianapolis is global, and regardless of their career path, they are going to work with people of diverse backgrounds. The more our students, our community [and] everyone interacts with people who are not like themselves, the smarter, nimbler, and more successful they are.”
IUPUI recently announced the next step in the university’s evolution, just a few years past its 50th anniversary. In the summer of 2022, Indiana University and Purdue University announced that their joint venture in IUPUI would become two independent academic institutions once again. This will allow both universities to expand their operations in Indianapolis and bring new, joint research opportunities to the community.
In reaction to the change, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said, “IUPUI’s realignment will create a transformational change across Indiana’s landscape and far beyond… This bold move will ensure Indiana is a leader in developing the workforce of tomorrow and attracting more companies to Indiana that are on the brink of cutting-edge discovery.”