Message from President Daniels

February 2018

Dear Boilermakers,

I’m excited to announce the launch of what we intend to be the biggest celebration of Purdue excellence we’ve attempted to date.

Mitch DanielsThe year 2019 marks Purdue’s 150th anniversary — our sesquicentennial. Of course, we will mark this milestone in part by looking back with pride on the great things that have happened over the past 150 years. But, at Purdue, we are always looking forward into the future that Boilermakers will be instrumental in creating. That we remember our history is important, but our future — our next 150 years — is even more vital.

You know of Purdue’s great accomplishments in research, teaching and engagement. You know the outstanding individuals at work and the world-changing research that is happening every day on our campuses.

We intend to devote our anniversary year to highlighting this excellence while bringing the best minds and voices in technology, science, business, the liberal arts and beyond to our campuses and to Boilermakers everywhere.

Ideas Festival

The centerpiece of this celebration will be an Ideas Festival, a world-wide conversation focused on critical issues facing our world. The topics will cut across academic disciplines and will connect world-renowned speakers and Purdue expertise.

We’ve put out a call to faculty, staff and students earlier this week for their ideas on what themes these events should contemplate. Suggestions so far include: 

  • Immortality: Can we achieve it? Should we?
  • Artificial intelligence: Where is it taking us and is it worth the risks?
  • Pros and cons of social media for individuals, society and democratic institutions
  • Space: Our next frontier or the source of our demise?
  • Democracy: Wave of the future or historical aberration?
  • China, India, Africa, U.S. ... Whose World in 2120?
  • Our robotic future: Life without work?

We want these events to go well beyond lectures — we intend them to include curricular and classroom experiences, workshops, community outreach, and full-day opportunities that will be provocative and engaging for all comers. Read on for more on how the Ideas Festival will commemorate our sesquicentennial and how you can help shape the celebration.

Curricular Components

To engage our students meaningfully in the yearlong Ideas Festival, faculty will be encouraged to use themes from the Ideas Festival events in their classrooms, and to find ways to talk about a variety of topics across disciplines — for example, our hope is that students in an English course will be just as likely to discuss the implications of artificial intelligence advancements as will our Computer Science students.

Student Engagement

We also want our students to be actively and centrally involved in the festivities planning. In addition to inviting students to contribute topic and speaker suggestions for the Festival of Ideas, we hope our more than 1,000 student clubs and organizations, our residence halls and our athletic teams, for instance, will look for ways to celebrate within their groups as well.

Purdue Student Government, in particular, has been instrumental in helping us develop ways to get students involved and will continue to lead that effort.

Community Outreach

As Indiana’s land-grant university, our tradition has always been to engage and serve beyond our campus, and this anniversary celebration will be no different. All Ideas Festival events on campus will be open to everyone — I hope you’ll join me in encouraging your friends, family and neighbors to join us for an event or two throughout the year.

We’re also planning a series of events specifically for the broader Indiana community, incorporating ideas and discussions into lesson plans for K-12 classrooms, outreach at local schools, and roving mobile exhibits and activities.

Alumni Events

Naturally, you are all invited to join us on campus during 2019 for the Ideas Festival. As much as we’d love each of our 450,000 alumni around the world to join us in West Lafayette, we know that’s just not possible for some. Because we truly want you to be part of this celebration — after all, what would our last 150 years have looked like if not for you? — we’ll be livestreaming Ideas Festival events throughout the year on the sesquicentennial website.

I also encourage you to consider hosting your own events in your communities, such as watch parties during Ideas Festival lectures or other celebratory events through your local Alumni Club. The Purdue Alumni Association would be happy to lend a hand in planning — send an email to for more information.

We’re open to any and all ideas for making 2019 a year to remember for Boilermakers everywhere. Visit the celebration website,, for more information, and check back often as we announce new plans over the coming months.

Let’s do this so well that the eyes and ears of the world will be on us for a year that will culminate in a new level of recognition and renown for our great institution.

Boiler Up and Hail Purdue!