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State of the University 2010


Good afternoon.

Thank you, Howie, for that introduction and for your leadership as Chair of the University Senate. You and your colleagues perform a tremendous service for Purdue.

Welcome, everyone, to the State of the University. Thank you for coming. I hope that when you leave today you will have a clearer understanding of Purdue's successes, our challenges, and our plans to ensure that Purdue maintains its course of increasing excellence.

We can all agree that the economic climate in our country and the State have made the past year a challenging one. And the economy may continue to challenge us for some time.

In the near term, Purdue is facing a cash deficit of $45 million system-wide, of which $36 million applies to our West Lafayette campus. This is due to the Governor's cut of $150 million from the public higher education institutions in Indiana. This is a cash cut, which needs to be given back this biennium.

In the longer term, we estimate a recurring deficit of nearly $70 million for the West Lafayette campus by fiscal year 2013. This deficit is based on our projections about the State appropriation level, the expected rise in unavoidable expenses like health care and utilities, and the desire to give salary increases to all employees. This also assumes no additional fee increases.

This is not the first time we have acted in anticipation of adverse budget conditions. Last June, the General Assembly passed a bill to cut Purdue's operating appropriation by just over 8 percent, or approximately $21 million for the West Lafayette campus over the biennium. It 'backfilled' this amount with temporary American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds -- also called economic stimulus funds.

We could have chosen to treat that money as recurring dollars -- permanent money -- in our operating budget, but we chose to budget for temporary, one time, uses of that money, like planning to use it for repair and rehabilitation of buildings. We also eliminated about 120 positions and announced a salary freeze. Our forsight proved to be beneficial, because those stimulus funds were taken back. The permanent budget changes that we made last Spring and Summer lessened the impact of our present financial challenges.

Once again, we are looking ahead to ensure that Purdue is in a healthy fiscal position to face an uncertain economic future. This is what good fiscal stewardship requires of us: to anticipate, and to plan accordingly.

We are working on our budget challenge together with you. From the outset, we wanted transparency and inclusion... and you have actively participated. We sought your input through a  Web site... many of you offered suggestions. All of your suggestions were shared -- upon request -- with the local and campus newspapers, which published selected examples. That's transparency.

We've held Forums and small group meetings… and have 19 more scheduled for the coming weeks. You have come to these sessions to learn, ask questions, and share your concerns. We have been working with fifteen representative groups and committees -- of faculty, students, staff and administration. These groups are addressing specific budget challenges… and helping us contend with difficult and sensitive issues. That's inclusion.

In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, there is some confusion, and there are some myths. Let me clarify for everyone:  No decisions about eliminating jobs or changing compensation or canceling programs have been made… and everything is on the table for review and consideration.

I understand that this is not an easy or comfortable process… but we are taking the time to do this right with your participation. Where other institutions have made immediate and harsh cuts, we are choosing to evaluate and discuss all reasonable options.

As we are required each April to do, we will meet with the Board of Trustees to present a proposed operating budget for next year for its approval. We will continue to solicit input and ideas on the proposal until the May Board meeting, when Executive Vice President Al Diaz will report the results of our compensation assessment and will present detailed implementation plans.

Thanks to Steering Committee co-chairs Al Diaz and Provost Randy Woodson...and Project Manager Ken Sandel and their teams for their hard work throughout this process.

Strategic plan

This is not the first big challenge we've worked through together.

Exactly two years ago, we jointly created a Strategic Plan. Faculty, students, staff, administration, and community participated in forming what would become "New Synergies," a Strategic Plan whose over-arching objective is to keep Purdue on a trajectory to becoming one of the premier research universities in the world. That goal has not changed.

In spite of the economic challenges over the past year, we have advanced our plan in many areas. As you'll recall, the Strategic Plan is made up of these three goals: Launching Tomorrow's Leaders; Promoting Discovery with Delivery; and Meeting Global Challenges. Today, I'll take you through each of these and report on our progress.

Launching Tomorrow's Leaders

First, Launching Tomorrow's Leaders.

I will talk about our students and what we are doing to ensure their success. I'll also discuss the Purdue Experience, and what makes it unique. And finally, I'll look at highlights from some of our outstanding Boilermakers.

One way to ensure success is to recruit the best and brightest students to Purdue… students who are well prepared to meet the rigorous standards of a Purdue education. Vic Lechtenberg likes to refer to this as being "Purdue-ready."

We've created a Presidential and Trustees merit scholarship to encourage top students to come to Purdue. Dean of Admissions Pamela Horne and Head of Financial Aid Joyce Hall and their team have made tremendous progress, working with the Deans and their Colleges, to oversee the admissions and recruitment process and refine our scholarship criteria.

I'm pleased to tell you we've had some extra help with our recruiting this year. I think you'll recognize our new Purdue admissions advocate… Drew Brees. Thanks, Drew.  And congratulations on that Super Bowl win.

This year's freshman class has the highest SAT scores in our history – up nine points over the previous year…and up 32 points over the beginning of the decade. Also increasing is the enrollment of students within the top ten percent of their high school rank.

Student success means keeping our students here once they enroll. Retention is also at an all-time high at 87 percent. As retention rates improve, increased graduation rates will follow. Our aspiration is for graduation rates to greatly increase over the next several years. "Crossing the Finish Line" is the first measure of student success.

Our students' retention rates are improving because our faculty and staff are paying close attention to the freshman and sophomore years. You have done a tremendous job with programs that are designed specifically for this transition time. Some of those programs are: Boiler Gold Rush, Learning Communities, Signals, Hotseat, and Ideas to Innovation Lab.

Boiler Gold Rush, which began many years ago, was originally called "Corn Camp." It involved around four hundred students and fifty staff. Today, it has grown into a major event that includes over fifty-five hundred new students, five hundred student volunteers, and our dedicated faculty and staff.

And it is making a difference!  Students who participate in Boiler Gold Rush are showing a 5 percent higher retention rate than those who do not.

For the first time in 2009, the BGR experience included a Common Reading Program. Eating Buddha's Dinner, by Bich Minh Nguyen, was written by one of our own faculty members, and was shared by many of our freshmen, faculty and staff. It is a wonderfully engaging book… and we thank Bich for sharing her craft and her heart and her multi-cultural experience.

Our learning communities continue to be popular and productive for our freshmen. Students who get involved in learning communities at Purdue are showing improved retention rates of 7 percent versus students who don't participate in learning communities.

This success story is largely due to director Drew Koch and his team who are responsible for the Student Access, Transition and Success programs. Thank you, Drew, and thank you to your entire team for making Boiler Gold Rush and the learning communities so successful.

In the Ideas to Innovation (I2I) Learning Laboratory, first-year engineering students become immersed in the engineering design cycle. Students in this program show 97% attendance and nearly 93% retention rates. Congratulations to Dean Leah Jamieson and her team on the outstanding success of this program.

And then there's Signals. This online course management program is so successful it ended up on Brian Williams’ Nightly News program. And Signals is working!  To date, more than 11,000 students have taken advantage of this high-tech success story. 89 percent of students who experienced Signals had a very positive or positive experience and 73 percent said they would like Signals in every course.

Hotseat is another e-based student tool. With this program, students provide feedback to their instructors… in real time. Using a Blackberry, iPhone, or similar tool, students send questions to their professor during class lectures. With this instant input, instructors are able to identify patterns of inquiry that need further explanation.

The force behind Signals and Hotseat is our Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Gerry McCartney. He and his team have developed creative, interactive solutions to help our students become more engaged with their courses — and that ultimately, will help them succeed. Thank you, Gerry, to you and your team for your dedication and outstanding work.

And thank you to the innovative faculty who are pioneering these programs in their classrooms.

Boiler Gold Rush, learning communities, I2I, Signals, and Hotseat … these programs and more have placed Purdue among the “Best Colleges for First-Year Experience,” according to U.S. News & World Report.
The first-year is critical to our students’ success. It sets the foundation for what will become their entire Purdue Experience.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about what makes the Purdue Experience so special.

First is our faculty. In the past year, our faculty has set new milestones for world-class achievement. Among our faculty honored this year was Gebisa Ejeta. He increased the yield of sorghum, upon which millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa depend for survival. Gebisa was awarded the World Food Prize -- the Nobel Prize of Agriculture -- in October.

Just two years earlier, another Purdue College of Agriculture faculty member, Phil Nelson, was awarded the World Food Prize for his work perfecting the storage, packaging, and transportation of fruit and vegetables. His discoveries have made major contributions to the availability of nutritious foods worldwide.

Purdue is the only organization that has produced two World Food Prize winners. This further distinguishes our College of Agriculture as one of the premier Colleges in the world.

Other outstanding Purdue faculty presently include 25 members of National Academies, a Medal of Technology winner, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. We count among our youngest faculty a significant number of Young Investigator Awardees from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE) and The White House.
Although we don't conduct research or design our programs to target rankings, they are one indicator of achievement. Just as our faculty hold peer reviews, Purdue falls under the scrutiny of outside institutions, both nationally and internationally. And we are doing well.

Most recently, our Krannert School of Management was ranked ninth among U.S. public MBA programs according to Financial Times. According to the U.S. News & World Report, the College of Engineering  ranks ninth among graduate programs. The Biological/Agricultural  program ranks number one at the Graduate level and number two for undergraduates. Overall, Purdue ranks twenty-second among public research universities, which is up four places from 2008…and the Times Higher Education ranks Purdue eighty-seventh among world universities. This is up twelve from our previous ranking.

Improvements in our rankings improve our reputation…and increase our attraction for funding, and encourage our donors and sponsors to invest in our institution and in our students.

Our goal is to make the Purdue Experience affordable to qualified students who might not otherwise be able to attend. You might recall an anonymous donor who contributed $6 million to Purdue last spring. We devoted these funds to a new scholarship called Emerging Urban Leaders… where we'll target students in Indianapolis, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago.

Two years ago, we also created the Marquis scholarship to assist students from families with middle-income households.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge our Purdue donors. Even during this difficult economic time, they have proved to be extraordinarily generous: in fact, gift income is up by fifteen percent in fiscal year 2010 compared to this time last year. Congratulations to interim director of development Robin Bellinger and her staff for providing the personal service that lets our donors know how much we appreciate their loyalty to Purdue.

Our students have been extraordinary this year as well. I’d like to highlight just a few of their stories.

Student-athletes at Purdue always make us proud. In the past season, our student-athletes earned national recognition in basketball, golf, diving, twirling… and our often unrecognized, but no-less-appreciated heroes, the Purdue national champion paintball team.

Athletic Director Morgan Burke tells me that last semester, our student-athletes earned a GPA of 3.03; it was the 24th consecutive semester in which the athletes' GPA was higher than the general population of our campus. No matter what the scoreboard says at the end of a game or tournament, our Boilermaker student-athletes are all winners. And so are our coaches! Like John Klinge who has been named 2010 Big Ten Women's Swimming Coach of the Year.

Two more of our students gained national attention… but not for a sport. They simply offered compliments.

The Compliment Guys, Cameron Brown and Brett Westcott, were sponsored by Kodak for a ten-city tour in July, ending in New York where they shared their unique Boiler spirit on Times Square, and appeared on Good Morning America.

Boiler spirit is about energy, creativity, and fun. It is also about heart and compassion. Immediately after the earthquake struck Haiti, our students organized a drive to raise funds for disaster relief. So far, they have raised $8,000 and we applaud them for their selfless efforts.

One of the service-learning programs offered through our College of Engineering is called EPICS or Engineering Projects in Community Service. The students in this project too, responded to the Haiti tragedy. They are working with Habitat for Humanity International to design affordable housing that is both wind and earthquake resistant.

Our extraordinary students are also featured in our recent documentary, called Black Purdue. It chronicles the experiences of African-American students at Purdue since the 1890s. Black Purdue was produced by Derek and Jamar Productions with assistance from Marketing & Media… and funding from the Purdue Black Alumni Organization and key donors, including our newest Board of Trustees member Don Thompson.

I'm sure you'll agree, we are launching tomorrow's leaders.

Discovery With Delivery

The second goal of our Strategic Plan is Discovery with Delivery...our objective here is to develop research competitiveness and economic impact.

Purdue has seen excellent progress over the past year. We have earned sponsorships from corporations and federal agencies… and gained valuable research partnerships with others. I’d like to highlight some of these partnerships here.

VACCINE (Visual Analytics for Command, Control, Interoperability, National Security and Emergencies). This research will assist homeland security personnel, including first-responders, perform their jobs more effectively by turning mass amounts of data into manageable information. This $15 million grand is lead by David Ebert of ECE.

C3BIO (Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels), will investigate methods to bypass the currently-used processes involving biological fermentation, reducing the need for large and expensive biorefineries and expanding the range of biofuels beyond ethanol. Maureen McCann of Biological Sciences is leading this effort.

NEES (Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation), led by Julio Ramirez  of Civil Engineering represents the largest award in Purdue’s history… $105 million. NEES will revolutionize earthquake engineering research and education by developing better and more cost-effective ways of mitigating earthquake damage through the innovative use of improved designs, materials, construction techniques, and monitoring tools.

Finally, a new NSF Science and Technology Center entitled The Center for the Science of Information and led by Wojciech Szpankowski is designed to explore emerging frontiers of information science. This center will advance information theory to integrate the elements of space, time, structure, semantics and content.

 In all cases, Purdue has established itself as the leader among partners. This is a strategic position that works well for us, and one that we will continue to pursue.

Let me give you another example. Today, our supports more than 85,000 users from the top 50 U.S. engineering schools, and 172 countries. This model has been used to create new HUBs, like NEES, which I just described. Now we have HUBzero. It provides a platform for scientific collaboration,
and is the premier example of cyberinfrastructure for building online communities and virtual organizations.

We believe that we are ahead of other competitors or commercial offerings in this area.

We've shown growth in sponsorships from corporations and federal agencies this year. We saw an increase of proposal submissions of over 40 percent, with sponsored research awards totaling over $340 million. If you look at the yellow bar on this chart for fiscal year 2009 (second from the right) and pick out the black line, that is where we were in our research awards at this time last year. As you can see when you compare it to 2010 – we are well ahead of last year.

The Strategic Plan calls for our research awards to double over the next few years, and it looks as if we are on our way to realizing that goal. Our faculty and staff deserve our great thanks for doing an outstanding job. Thank you to Vice President for Research Richard Buckius and his staff for bolstering the infrastructure of pre- and post-award support that has helped our faculty make gains in this area.

Our Strategic Plan recognizes the importance of moving our innovations to market as quickly as possible. Some of our discoveries find a home in Purdue Research Parks. There are nearly 200 companies in all four Purdue Research Parks; 25 new companies added just in the past year. Two that are especially exciting include the Dow AgroSciences genetics research center and greenhouse facility, and The Hewlett Packard Software Solutions Center.

Joseph Hornett, Senior Vice President, Treasurer, and Chief Operating Officer of Purdue Research Foundation tells us there are at least 200 student internship opportunities at Purdue Research Park. We encourage our students to take advantage of these great Purdue relationships. Thank you, Joe, for your continued outstanding leadership.

Meeting Global Challenges

The third goal in our Strategic Plan is Meeting Global Challenges. Many of our faculty are conducting research in concert with universities and colleagues around the world. We also offer students study abroad programs in every continent on the globe. Purdue offers more than 200 overseas opportunities.  And with nearly 6,000 students from more than 125 countries attending Purdue, we have the second highest international enrollment among public universities.

We are so pleased that Arden Bement will be returning to Purdue as the inaugural director of the new Global Policy Research Institute, designed by Purdue faculty this past year. The college of engineering held his appointment for 9 years while he served in Washington, first as director of NIST, then as director of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Bement will be joining us on June 1 for two years. During that time he will help conduct a national search for a permanent director, as well as help leverage the reputation of our faculty to attract new financial resources and large global partnerships for the Institute.

Few other policy institutes can make the vital connection between science and society from a solid foundation in the STEM and agriculture disciplines. I just returned from the AAAS meeting in San Diego. The theme of that meeting was Science Bridging Social Issues, and that coincidentally is the theme of our new Policy Institute. Even fewer institutes can make this bridge on a global scale. Such connections are vital at a time when the rapid advances in science, engineering and technology have the power to change the world… instantly.

Looking Ahead

As we look ahead, we will find more ways to connect our unique strengths with strategic opportunities.

We have already identified new areas for academic enrichment with the realignment of our existing colleges to create the College of Health and Human Sciences. Congratulations to Provost Randy Woodson and all the college deans and department heads and faculty involved in this visionary achievement. This new combination of disciplines will focus on the health, behavior, and quality of life of people. We expect the College of Health and Human Sciences to be highly attractive for potential students who envision a career path in these disciplines.

The new Student Fitness and Wellness Center has been given a "go" and construction is scheduled to begin in May or June of this year. This was a student-led initiative and they did an outstanding job putting the proposal together and gaining the necessary approvals.

Our students are now in the early stages of proposing a Center for Student Excellence and Leadership. This "one-stop shop" was proposed in the strategic plan. It will provide students with tutoring services, student meeting rooms, a business center, and a  place to develop leadership skills.

Thanks go to Student Government President Adam Kline, Student Trustee Tyler Teykl and so many of the leaders who have emerged from the student body to make these student-led initiatives come to life.

Students, faculty, staff and have accomplished many things to be proud of this past year. You are on your way to creating many more. Thank you for stepping up to the challenge. A special thanks goes to Tim Sands, who has stepped up to becoming Provost.

All of us will work together to ensure that Purdue remains a vibrant nationally recognized institution.

I'd like to take a moment, on behalf of the Purdue community and our Trustees, to thank the Governor, our legislators and the Commission on Higher Education, for believing in Purdue, recognizing its contribution to our great State, and supporting our goals.

And I'd like to acknowledge that in a few minutes my partner in advocating for the Indiana Innovation Alliance, President Michael McRobbie, will be giving the IU State of the University address. Good luck, Michael -- thanks for your leadership!

As we go forward, our researchers will continue to make discoveries that inspire, and innovations that save lives halfway around the world. Our alumni will continue to invest in Purdue's success, as they have generously done for so long. Our community will continue to be proud partners with us. And our talented students will continue to attend classes taught by our outstanding faculty.

Our athletes will continue to win!  I'm wearing my Big Ten tournament championship pendant from last season, and I'm hoping this season will bring more of that success!

We are all Boilermakers -- students, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni and friends of Purdue.

It's nearly time for March madness, so Go Boilers -- and Hail Purdue!