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History of Span Plan

Dean Helen Schleman and Dean Cecelia Zissis conducted a survey in 1968 and discovered that 100% of the men contacted were students, yet of the women contacted, only 3% were students. So usually, it was the husband earning his degree, while the wife was working wherever she could to put him through school. Consequently, at the end of the experience, too often, the married couple had grown apart in knowledge and experience.

Armed with this information, Dean’s Schleman and Zissis came up with the idea of offering the non-enrolled spouse a tuition grant so that the wife might have the opportunity to take a course at Purdue and share in some part of the academic experience of her spouse, including the benefits of furthering her education. These grants still exist today—no longer limited to Married Student Housing or women—and are much broader in scope and serve as an entryway for men and women to begin or resume an academic program.

On April 25, 1968, the Purdue University Board of Trustee appointed Dean Helen B. Schleman the first Director of Span Plan. Span Plan was derived from a belief that young women should begin to make education and work plans for a total lifespan, not just for a year or two before or after getting married.

Throughout the years, we have dedicated our efforts to enhancing the student experience through Span Plan with a vision of continuing the program’s legacy and increasing its impact on behalf of adult students at Purdue. What began as a support service for spouses of adult students, encouraging them to also go to college, has evolved into a program with a wide array of services to meet the changing needs of the adult students of Purdue. Span Plan is dedicated to the belief that education and career development are lifelong endeavors. This program continues to provide services for nontraditional undergraduate and graduate students that assist and encourage them as they pursue their education at Purdue University.