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Report of Acting President, Tim Sands
Board of Trustees Stated Meeting

STEW Rm 326
July 20, 2012
9:00 a.m.

Slide 1It is my honor to have the opportunity to serve this great institution as acting president through this critical leadership transition. I’d like to thank the Board for placing their trust in me. I’d also like to thank president emerita Córdova for mentoring me during these past two years. I appreciate the support and patience offered by the staff of the office of the provost, the deans, and the vice provosts through the transition period. Finally, I’d like to thank my family – my wife, Laura, the Katherine Birck professor of Nursing, and our four Boilermaker children. If it weren’t for them and the perspective of Purdue that they offer me as a Purdue parent, I wouldn’t have even considered a stint in Hovde Hall.

Purdue is entering a season of changing faces but continuing momentum:

    Slide 2
  • An outgoing President: France Córdova deserves recognition for her unwavering commitment to Student Success that will be felt for many years to come; and for her efforts to launch the Life & Health Sciences Park, among other notable accomplishments.
  • An incoming President: Governor Daniels brings unique experience and a complementary skill set to Purdue. He will generate opportunities for Purdue that no one else could.
  • As Acting President: I am committed to ensuring that we maintain our momentum.
  • As Acting Provost: Vic Lechtenberg is well prepared to fulfill this role. No one understands the university and its stakeholders better – Vic Lechtenberg embodies the spirit of the land-grant university. Thanks for stepping up again, Vic!

Continuing the Momentum

Slide 3I truly believe that Purdue, with its engagement and impact culture, its strength in interdisciplinary scholarship, and its particular and unusual disciplinary mix, happens to be sitting – probably for the first time in our history - right at the vortex - right at the point to which higher education, globally, is scrambling...but we can’t stay still. We have to keep getting better, and we have to keep moving or this will be a fleeting opportunity.

I’d like to say a few words about the momentum we must maintain through the leadership transition.


  • Our Incoming class will be best prepared ever, again - for at least the fifth year in a row by all measures. We must maintain the momentum in increasing retention and closing the equity gaps in student success. We expect graduation rates to march up steadily.
  • Purdue’s Outcomes-based Core Curriculum is now in the implementation stage. This core will put a stamp on what it means to be a Purdue graduate.
  • The Honors College is also ready to launch. We are looking forward to providing the sort of living-learning experiences that will help to keep Indiana’s best high school students in the State and at Purdue.
  • Purdue’s course transformation project known as IMPACT – Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation - is applying the results of learning research to teaching. For example, a recent meta-analysis by the U.S. Department of Education offers evidence that blended learning or the so-called “flipped classroom” (with online lectures and active learning in the classroom) can result in learning outcomes that are superior to both those achieved with the traditional lecture method and those resulting from entirely online instruction. Purdue is among the leaders nationally in institutional course transformation. A faculty learning community approach is bringing the best of learning technology, learning science and rigorous assessment to a cohort of faculty transforming thirty courses per year across the spectrum of disciplines offered at Purdue. Over 7,000 students will be enrolled this fall in IMPACT sections featuring active learning.
  • Another project that has reached the implementation phase, Foundations of Excellence, is integrating efforts across university units to improve the first-year experience & outcomes, to enhance efficiency, and to clarify and consolidate the array resources available from the perspective of the student.
  • The Center for Student Excellence & Leadership (CSEL) project is moving forward, along with a commitment by the institution to provide leadership education and opportunities to every student. This commitment is encompassed in “4-3-2-1-Graduate!,” a message we have communicated to all of our entering undergraduates: graduate in 4; maintain at least a 3.0 GPA; study 2 hours for every hour of class; commit to 1 student leadership experience. (Thanks to PSG president Joe Rust for his work in developing this message).

Graduate students

Slide 4Our graduate students will see increasing options for professional masters programs in the near future. A new budget model lowers barriers to initiate and grow new programs. We will also see continuing growth in our interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs. We have over 700 graduate students pursuing interdisciplinary graduate degrees, and that number is growing rapidly. The greater flexibility of interdisciplinary programs affords opportunities for our graduate students to work in emerging domains and grand challenge problems that straddle the traditional disciplines. We are also exploring variants of the traditional Ph.D. programs that prepare students for a wide range of careers, recognizing that many Ph.D. students will pursue careers beyond the academy, in industry or government, and as entrepreneurs.


Slide 5In parallel with our interdisciplinary graduate students, Purdue must continue to attract faculty who are not only strong in their disciplines, but who work collaboratively across a range of disciplines on complex problems. We have launched the first comprehensive cross-college cluster hiring initiative at Purdue. Faculty groups spanning two or more colleges proposed clusters that would transform existing strengths at Purdue into efforts that have the potential to lead on a national or global scale. To date, we have approved six clusters in the following domains, each seeking to recruit up to six new faculty members over the next few years.

  • Epigenetics
  • Integrated imaging
  • Prevention of chronic diseases
  • Manufacturing pharmaceutical biologics
  • Computational and systems biology
  • Animal welfare science

The cost is cost shared between the hiring units and the provost’s office. We expect to add up to 70 new faculty members through this initiative.

Slide 6We continue to recruit faculty who complement individual excellence with contributions to institutional excellence through diversity of life experience. There is no way we are going to compete on the global stage if we do not aggressively recruit the broadest possible cross-section of faculty and staff to being their varied life experiences to every activity on campus; from writing center proposals for major grants, to preparing our students in the classroom for the world they will enter. To paraphrase our Board Chair, we have got to skate to where the puck is going to be...not to where it is now.

The results of our COACHE faculty survey will be out shortly; we are committed to using these results to guide efforts to improve the environment for scholarly productivity.

The Decadal Funding Plan

Slide 7Early in 2011, we launched a process that led to the Decadal Funding Plan. The impetus for long-term planning arose from the funding challenge created by escalating tuition and the declining ability of states to support higher education. While we continue to look for opportunities for cost savings and cost avoidance through Sustaining New Synergies, saving money alone will not be sufficient to maintain or grow quality in the institution and the value of a Purdue degree. Through the planning process, the discourse was expanded to include an emphasis on new revenue as well as opportunities to free faculty effort to focus on direct scholarly contributions to Discovery, Learning and Engagement.

Building Summer: Last fall, we announced our effort to build summer enrollment towards a Balanced Trimester calendar. I’m pleased to announce that Professor Frank Dooley will take the lead in moving this initiative forward.

PurdueHUB-U: This spring, we seeded the PurdueHUB-U initiative, a project that is focused on building flexible, modular, web-based instruction across a wide range of disciplines, utilizing the rich simulation and collaboration functionality built into our HUBzero platform. The target audience is two fold: First we plan to use PurdueHUB-U as a key tool in the blended learning approaches that will be necessary to advance the core learning mission for the benefit of the students who are enrolled in Purdue programs. Second, we see great possibilities for developing learning modules that will be valued by institutions all around the world, to be incorporated in their credit-bearing programs for credentials granted through their institutions. We are fortunate that Professor Ananth Iyer has agreed to lead this exciting project.

Academic Program Assessment: Another project that is well underway is our first comprehensive assessment of all degree-granting programs at West Lafayette. The goals of this project are three-fold:

  1. Guiding future investments to take more of our programs to the top.
  2. Focusing resources where possible, while maintaining breadth expected by our ambitious students.
  3. Improving every degree-granting program, every year.

Innovation and Commercialization Center: Finally, I’d like to mention the Innovation and Commercialization Center (ICC). Working with the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), the ICC will address promising Purdue technologies that would benefit from more hands-on management and dedicated resources to make them attractive to potential licensees. The ICC uses a step-up award model, that is the same model as used for the current Trask Innovation Fund. The ICC will support technologies in multiple domains, of which medical devices and IT will be the first two, but the ICC will not be limited to only these areas in the future.

Campus Update

Slide 8Celebrating the Morrill Act: At an event marking the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant Act, Bill Gates started his talk by praising Purdue researchers for developing a low-cost technology that has increased poor farm family incomes in Africa by more than 25 percent.

Professor Gebisa Ejeta was also a featured speaker at the event. Purdue is honored to have been held up as the epitome of the modern global land-grant university.

The Higgs Boson: Purdue was part of another historical event this 4th of July as scientists working on the biggest international experiment in particle physics history announced the discovery of a new particle that may be the long-sought Higgs boson. You may recall from your modern physics course that bosons can share the same volume and quantum state with an unlimited number of identical particles; they have integer spin – in the case of the newly discovered particle, that spin is zero, making the Higgs boson Nature’s knuckleball (don’t take that too literally!).

Slide 9Purdue's particle physics group has been a part of the more than two-decade search for the elusive particle, which could confirm the Standard Model of physics and provide insight into how the universe formed. Purdue scientists and students contributed to the design and construction of several key parts of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector (shown in the background), the software used to operate the detector and analyze the collisions, and have contributed to a variety of key measurements with the data. In the lower photo on the far right is Daniela Bortoletto, a Distinguished Prof. of Physics. Second from the left is Ian Shipsey, also a Distinguished Prof. of Physics. They are at CERN in Switzerland with two key scientists associated with the discovery including Peter Higgs (between our Purdue profs) for whom the discovery is named. Also shown here is Purdue Calumet Physics professor Neeti Parashar. She has conducted research at CERN that contributed to the discovery., and I’m pleased to introduce her to you here today.

As with every Big Science project, the benefits go beyond new knowledge; the kernel of the World-Wide Web was created to allow elementary particle physicists to communicate during an earlier project at CERN; who knows what useful technologies may emerge from the Large Hadron Collider?

Slide 10Purdue Athletes in London: Purdue has ties to four athletes competing in five Olympic events this summer. They are:

  • Lauren Sesselmann competing for Canada in Women's Soccer
  • David Boudia competing in two diving events for the U.S. Olympic Team
  • Nedzad Mulabegovic competing for Croatia in the Shot Put, and
  • Kara Patterson competing in the Javelin for the U.S.

Our student athletes, past and present, inspire each of us to reach deep within ourselves to push through adversity and find another gear, even when we doubt our own ability; and to do so with character and compassion for our teammates; not just in athletics, but in every phase of life.

Slide 11University-wide Campus Update: The biggest news from the regional campuses is that Vicky L. Carwein, current Chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities, will become IPFW’s Chancellor. Walt Branson, the current vice chancellor for financial affairs, is serving as the acting chancellor until she begins September 1st. Congratulations to both Walt and Dr. Carwein. We are looking forward to working with them.

While I’m talking about the Purdue System, it is fitting to mention the Freeh Report; yesterday, you heard mention from Board Chair Krach and Treasurer Diaz about our system-wide effort to extract lessons learned at Penn State, and to implement changes in policy, procedures, and most importantly, culture. We will utilize the ongoing Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) platform, You will be hearing more from campus leadership, and we are looking forward to engaging as partners, the University Senate, APSAC (administrative & professional staff advisory committee) and CSSAC (clerical & service staff advisory committee) in the coming months days and months.

Slide 12Governance Reports: Finally, I’d like to preview our Governance Reports. Vice President for Development, Lisa Calvert, recently announced the second highest annual total ever for Purdue fundraising. Lisa was recently profiled in a book on leadership in higher education development - one of only ten featured with her own chapter. Congratulations to VP Calvert! Next, professor Arden Bement, Chief Global Affairs Officer and Director of our Global Policy Research Institute will outline the formation and activities of the Global Council, Purdue's current global portfolio, and a template for the future. Finally, Athletic Director Morgan Burke will highlight the progress that Intercollegiate Athletics has made on their strategic plan in 2011-12, along with some challenges and opportunities they will face in the coming academic year.

Slide 13I’d like to conclude by emphasizing that the next six months is all about maintaining our momentum (speed and direction), not sitting still. The handoff in January will be smooth; President Daniels will be in full stride, and if we do this right, I’ll be gasping for air, but with a big smile! I’ll close by expressing my “Thanks” to all of the students, faculty, staff and stakeholders who have been and who will be involved in ensuring a smooth transition.

Hail Purdue!