Purdue University became a presence in the area shortly after World War II when the University began offering technical courses at “extension centers” in more than 40 sites around Indiana, including LaPorte and Michigan City. The centers offered Purdue’s complete freshman engineering program, as well as a two-year technical institute.
Purdue Barker Center
In 1948 the Barker Welfare Foundation made available to the University the John Barker mansion. All of the area classes were consolidated in this fine old structure in the spring of 1949. Through the 1950s, enrollments at the Barker Memorial Center continued to grow, as did the population of the north central region of the state. By the early 1960s, it was evident that this part of the state was due for a population boom and significant industrial expansion, and Purdue began to make plans for a new regional campus that could more adequately serve the area.
Permanent Campus Opens
In May of 1962 Purdue University, through the Ross-Ade Foundation, purchased 160 acres in LaPorte County at a location that could best serve the cities of LaPorte, Michigan City and Valparaiso.
With the site available, serious plans started on the development of the first building of the new campus. The Education building, containing 90,000 square feet, provided modern academic facilities when it opened its doors for the Fall 1967 semester, with an enrollment of 1,200 students. In September 1968, construction was begun on a $750,000 addition on the east side of the building. One year later, the addition was ready for occupancy. In 1984, this building was renamed Schwarz Hall in honor of Robert F. Schwarz, the first dean and director.
Schwarz returned to teaching in 1972 and John W. Tucker served as Chancellor from 1972 to 1979, when he returned to full-time teaching. William R. Fuller was Interim Chancellor until June 1982, when Dale W. Alspaugh was named Acting Chancellor. Alspaugh became Chancellor in 1984, retiring from that position in December 1999. James B. Dworkin became Chancellor in January 2000.
More Buildings Added
In 1969, the Indiana General Assembly appropriated funds for construction of a second building. The Library-Student-Faculty building (LSF) was dedicated in March, 1975. It encompasses 100,000 square feet of space, 30,000 of which serve as the library facility. In February 1993, construction began on the 70,000 square-foot Technology building, and was completed in 1995. The 2,600 square-foot Robotics and Flexible Manufacturing Technology Laboratory, built in the spring of 1985 and previously located in the LSF building, was moved to the Technology Building.
In December of 2000, PNC announced the opening of the Valparaiso Academic Center, a 10,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art education and training facility designed to serve the professional development needs of management and technical professional as well as degree-seeking adults. This facility now has two buildings that have been gifted to the campus. These structures house classes offered for the Master of Business Administration courses as well as selected undergraduate courses. The facility was renamed Purdue North Central-Porter County in the spring of 2006.
In May of 2002, Purdue North Central announced the opening of the North Central Veterinary Emergency Center (NCVEC). The $1.4 million facility is located on the PNC campus and was made possible through a unique, public-private partnership that brings together Purdue and an investor group of 36 area veterinarians. The center provides 24-hour emergency and specialty veterinary care to the owners of dogs, cats, and other small animals within 50 miles of PNC.
Unification of Purdue North Central and Purdue Calumet
In February, 2014, it was announced that Purdue is moving forward with the preparation of a plan that will unify the administration of the university’s two northwest Indiana campuses, Purdue North Central and Purdue Calumet.
On July 18, 2014, the Purdue Board of Trustees approved Purdue University Northwest (PNW) as the name of the unified Calumet and North Central campuses. Once unification is complete, the two campus locations will be respectively identified as the Purdue University Northwest-Calumet campus and the Purdue University Northwest-North Central campus.
Honorary Degrees Awarded by Purdue North Central
2007: Sylvia Bankoff – Doctor of Humane Letters
2004: Harley Snyder – Doctor of Management
2002: Eugene Jaffe – Doctor of Management
2001: Angela DelVecchio – Doctor of Science
2000: William R. Fuller – Doctor of Science
1995: Peter C. Kesling – Doctor of Science
1991: Russell L. Arndt – Doctor of Agriculture
1990: Joe R. Urschel – Doctor of Technology
1987: Burton B. Ruby – Doctor of Laws
1986: Charles F. Bowman – Doctor of Agriculture
1985: John A. Garrettson – Doctor of Laws