Purdue common reading selection focuses on ethics, science and racial issues

February 16, 2011

College of Liberal Arts senior Brandon Krozel unveils the 2011-2012 Common Reading Program selection - Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A book about the history and ethics surrounding one of the most influential medical discoveries has been selected for Purdue's campus-wide reading program to help new students connect at the university.

Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" will be given to each first-year and transfer student who enters the university next fall as part of the 2011-12 Common Reading Program. The announcement was made Tuesday (Feb. 15) at the Academic Leadership Forum.

"Each student brings his or her own story, experience and background to college, and the Common Reading Program is an opportunity to connect each person and create a common academic experience as they begin their college careers," said Dan Carpenter, interim director of the Student Access, Transition and Success Programs and co-chair of the Common Reading Committee. "This connection helps students learn from their peers and faculty and be more involved in campus activities. All of these factors contribute toward student success at Purdue."

The book will be distributed to domestic first-year and transfer students during the Summer Transition, Advising and Registration program, known as STAR. International students are provided an electronic version of the book. Students are required to read the book before they start classes in the fall or arrive for the Boiler Gold Rush undergraduate orientation program. Last year more than 5,000 students participated in book discussions led by more than 600 Boiler Gold Rush team leaders and residence hall staff.

At the end of Boiler Gold Rush, the author will speak to the students at a forum on Aug. 21. Information about public attendance will be available in the summer.

The book also will be used in some introductory level classes, and formal talks and presentations will be held throughout the year. This is the third year of the program, and the book was selected by a university-wide committee based on suggestions submitted by students, faculty and staff.

"This selection is appealing because it touches on topics from almost every academic discipline and creates a myriad of opportunities for students and faculty to connect and learn," said Sharon Weiner, W. Wayne Booker Chair in Information Literacy and co-chair of the Common Reading Committee.

Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner" was selected in 2010 and Bich Minh Nguyen's "Stealing Buddha's Dinner" was read in 2009. Copies of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" will be available at Purdue Libraries soon. More information about the Common Reading Program is available at http://www.purdue.edu/sats/commonreading/index.html 

Writer:  Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu 

Sources:   Dan Carpenter, 765-494-2451, dwcarpen@purdue.edu

                    Sharon Weiner, 765-496-3128, sweiner@purdue.edu