To:          Executive Vice Presidents, Chancellors, Vice Presidents, Vice Chancellors, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors and Heads of Schools, Divisions, Departments and Offices

From:      Jay Akridge, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Diversity

               Suresh Garimella, Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships

Date:      September 6, 2017

Subject:  Data Science at Purdue

We’re writing to let you know of our intent to explore a major new Purdue initiative in data science. With much enthusiasm, we invite you to take part in a campus-wide discussion convened jointly by our offices, to help shape this effort and to identify specific areas where as an institution we are well positioned to lead.

Data science—the grand interdisciplinary challenge to extract new knowledge from big data through advanced analytics­­­–presents a transformational opportunity for Purdue. It touches nearly every discipline we study and will impact the future of virtually every student we educate. The needs and opportunities here are broad - from foundational research questions to the practical requirements of putting data science to work - opportunities abound for all of our faculty and many staff to engage.

 For these reasons, we wish to convene an open, inclusive discussion which will position us best to:

1)      Prepare our students to engage fully in a data-driven world;

2)      Empower our faculty by creating a research ecosystem that supports the data science needs and interests of faculty across campus;

3)      Engage with our partners in areas of scholarly focus where Purdue brings unique strengths; and,

4)      Transform our state by realizing the potential of data science for economic development.

To ensure that we create an initiative that is transformative and spans our three institutional mission areas of discovery, learning, and engagement in an integrative way, Tomás Diáz de la Rubia, Discovery Park’s chief scientist and executive director, along with Jenna Rickus, associate vice provost for teaching and learning, will lead our exploratory campus conversations in data science. Jointly, Jenna and Tomás will follow up with details of how to take part in the early shaping of this initiative. An announcement about this initiative will appear in Purdue Today on September 8, 2017.

We intend to reach rapid agreement on a set of initial strategic directions as part of this new initiative, and so in this spirit we wish to encourage you strongly to take part in these early discussions.