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President's Message - December 2009

Greetings Purdue Supporters,

'Tis better to give than to receive.

What a simple statement, but one that truly resonates in this season of celebration, when reaching out can make such a difference.

I am reminded of the author Shel Silverstein's children's classic, "The Giving Tree," in which a loving tree offers pieces of itself in friendship to a little boy. Both are enriched. And so it is with Purdue. We, as a community, find hundreds of ways throughout the year to draw from our own resources contribute to the good of society. And along the way, wonderful things happen.

Gebisa's photo

I am very proud to say that we are home base for 2009 World Food Prize winner Gebisa Ejeta, whose research will help combat food shortages by increasing production and availability of sorghum in his native Africa. Aaltonen's photoOur committed faculty also includes 2009 Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award winner Pamela Aaltonen, associate professor of nursing, who takes students to the Navajo Nation in Arizona each May for a clinical public health nursing experience.

Our students learn the value of giving when they participate in service learning courses at home and abroad. More than 175 programs involving some 115 faculty and staff, give students the opportunity to travel to Ghana, Costa Rica, India, China, Cameroon, Jordan, and Nicaragua, among many other places.

In all, about 63 percent of our students are involved in giving back either through these courses or through involvement with student organizations. Of these students, 26 percent give 20 or more hours of their time each semester for service activities.

Mendoza photo

Brooks photoKevin Brooks, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction, is committed to making a difference in the lives of African American boys through the student organization Builders of a New Generation, which he co-founded in 2003. Its Rites of Passage Mentoring Program, seeks to empower and enrich local African American students in grades three to eight. Sandra Mendoza, a senior in management, gives by serving in the Latino Cultural Center’s Embajadores program, which connects with high school students in the Greater Lafayette area.

We are also an institutional model of good citizenship. Purdue is the founding home of EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service), a nationwide program in which teams of undergraduates design, build, and deploy real systems to solve engineering-based problems for local community service and education organizations.

Many of our alumni have made giving back a full-time career,Slater photo including Erin Slater (BA ’02, child development and family sciences) who founded the Purdue chapter of College Mentors for Kids while a student and is now CEO of the national organization. A striking number of alumni choose to serve in the Peace Corps; with 44 alumni as active volunteers, Purdue was recently among the top 25 large universities represented in the corps.

Nelson photo
At home, faculty and retirees such as Betty Nelson, dean of students emerita and a university and community leader, awe us with their energy, selflessness, and dedication to causes far and wide.

We are very grateful for the many graduates and friends who choose to give back to Purdue itself through the Access and Success campaign, including an anonymous donor whose gift is proving $6 million to fund student scholarships and another $2 million to use where other unmet needs exist. Our alumni and friends are making a difference in students’ lives with improved facilities, programs, and educational opportunities.

When you ask students, staff, faculty, and alumni, where their greatest satisfaction lies, the answer is almost always the same: to have made a difference in someone’s life.



 France A. Córdova

France A. Córdova