A Message from the President - February 2011
A desire to tackle great challenges in order to make a better world is one of the defining strengths of our great university.
We set high goals and we expect to reach them -- in preparing our students for their futures and in research that transforms our world.
In January, Purdue took part in a global food security initiative when we welcomed the Feed the Future workshop, a national meeting with the goal to initiate partnerships that address the challenge of food security around the world. Topics were of critical relevance to world hunger and poverty, including enhancing and sustaining agricultural productivity and developing sustainable food security solutions.
Purdue Professor Gebisa Ejeta -- whose sorghum research in sub-Saharan Africa earned him the 2009 World Food Prize -- hosted the event in partnership with Purdue's College of Agriculture and our Global Policy Research Institute. Participants who gathered on Purdue's campus included members of government and other national organizations, as well as representatives of other universities and the private sector.
Access to safe and available food is a basic human need and one that is foremost on the mind of Purdue researchers such as Richard Linton, who guides the University's Center for Food Safety Engineering. Learn what inspires Linton and other researchers in food safety and security on our Difference Makers website. This site features highlights of the work being done by Purdue's thought leaders in areas such as health and sustainability. The latest installment, which launches February 7, will focus on research in food safety and security.
A basic element in the success of students across all disciplines is writing and communication. Purdue is proud to be home to the nationally renowned Online Writing Lab (OWL), housed in our Department of English. A recent grant of $1.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund a project to enhance social media, videogaming, and other online interactive activities to improve high school students' writing. OWL is an online resource that provides information on various aspects of writing, including grammar and mechanics, writer's block, style guides, and punctuation. It is popular with users across the country and around the world -- 180 million visited the site last year.
We were proud to see one of our talented faculty members, Jeffrey Karpicke, assistant professor in psychological sciences, featured in The New York Times last month. His research, published in the journal Science, involves learning and memory in students and found that test taking is not merely a mechanism for assessing how much a student knows, but that it actually helps people learn. The research builds on previous work and introduces a new paradigm for how teachers and researchers view learning.
This month National Engineers Week comes to Purdue. From February 20-26, events will celebrate gifts that support scholarships and other programs, and several initiatives within our College of Engineering and its various schools. The annual weeklong series, whose theme this year is "Turning Ideas into Reality," is designed to celebrate the engineering profession and reach out to current and future generations of engineering leaders.
February is Black History Month and we have events planned around campus. Among these is the opening of the Spring Cultural Arts Series at the Black Cultural Center. The annual series will include lectures, art exhibitions, a heritage tour, films, community dialogues and artistic performances.
Our popular "5 Students Who ..." web feature for February will highlight undergraduate students who are researchers. One such student, Christina Citta, a junior in Child Development and Family Studies, is examining pre-engineering behaviors in preschoolers and experimenting with the creation of an engineering-focused preschool curriculum. Find out more about Christina and other undergraduate students who are researchers at our "5 Students Who ..." website.
My recent State of the University address highlights many more of our successes as well as our challenges. You can read a transcript of my remarks or watch the presentation here.
Our continued investment in learning, research and global engagement has positioned Purdue among the top research universities in the world. We have taken it upon ourselves to become a tangible force for positive impact in the world. We are proud of where we are and we look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
When I see February roll around, I always think of Valentine's Day and make a note to tell the people I love how much they mean to me. I wish each of you a Happy Valentine's Day -- you mean a lot to Purdue!
France A. Córdova