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Bronze mastodon silhouetted in the evening sunset.


This is our Story

Mastodons Make History


Purdue University Fort Wayne is located in Indiana’s second-largest city and offers a traditional campus experience within a thriving metropolitan setting. As part of the venerable Purdue University system, students earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from one of the most trusted and prestigious brands in higher education. 

With more than 8,000 students and over 300 full-time faculty members, Purdue Fort Wayne is perfectly sized to offer small classes and individualized attention, yet large enough to have all the attributes of a major research university. Students have the opportunity to work alongside faculty to tackle
real-world challenges through groundbreaking research, to create exciting new scholarship, and to explore new facets of creative expression.

These are the moments that made us who we are.



Indiana University and Purdue University opens the combined campus of Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne


Student body adopts the mastodon as a mascot

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Historical 1969 photo of a classroom at IPFW.
Mastodon bones

Why the Mastodon?

Mastodons roamed the southern Great Lakes region of North America more than 10,000 years ago. But it was in 1968—four years after the university was founded—that Jack Sunderman, chair of the Department of Geology, identified a leg bone of a mastodon found just south of Angola, Indiana. Sunderman and his team of faculty and students subsequently unearthed the entire mastodon skeleton—along with the skull of a baby mastodon.

Later that year, Steve Pettyjohn, who served as the student body president in
1968–69, wrote a letter to the Communicator, the university newspaper, extolling the virtues of choosing the mastodon as the mascot: “It sounds different, strange. That’s exactly why [we should choose it]. I’m tired of slavishly copying what Bloomington, West Lafayette, and other big schools do. Let’s have the courage to be a little different.”

The following year, a student government committee selected the Mastodon as the university mascot. Don lives on as a fierce representative of Purdue Fort Wayne!

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Arial view of campus in the 1960s and early 70s


Campus administration formally merges


University creates academic structure to emphasize relationships among departments


Major facilities open, including the Visual Arts Building, Williams Theatre, and the Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science Building


University completes a new campus facilities master plan and the first strategic plan


    Science Building opens

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    Ernest E. Williams Theatre located on the main campus.
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    Student Housing buildings under construction.


    University dedicates the new Crescent Avenue Bridge, which connects the main campus to the Waterfield Campus


    Student Housing on the Waterfield Campus opens


      Student housing expands with two more buildings, and the John and Ruth Rhinehart Music Center opens


      Holiday Inn at IPFW and the Coliseum (later renamed Purdue Fort Wayne Holiday Inn) joins the campus family


      Ron Venderly Family Bridge and the Medical Education Building open


      Student housing adds four more buildings with new floor plans, as well as a new clubhouse building


      Keith Busse Steel Dynamics Alumni Center (later renamed the Steel Dynamics Keith E. Busse Mastodon Alumni Center) opens


      Indiana Commission for Higher Education grants the university the status as northeast Indiana’s Metropolitan University


      University officially splits into two campuses, Purdue University Fort Wayne and Indiana University Fort Wayne; IU Fort Wayne takes charge of the health sciences, while other areas become a part of Purdue University Fort Wayne

      Purdue University Sweetwater Music Center opens

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      Student housing on the Waterfield Campus.