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State of the University 2011

Opening Slide

Thank you, Joan, for that introduction, and for your outstanding leadership as Chair of the University Senate.

You and your colleagues perform a tremendous service for Purdue. My thanks go to all of our staff, faculty, and students – as well as our community, legislators, and supporters everywhere. You have made this a great year for Purdue.

This is the State of the University address. I’d like to celebrate our achievements of the past year, and address our challenges and plans going forward.

My address will pertain mainly to the West Lafayette campus, as the chancellors of our regional campuses will be giving their own presentations in April.


This is a roadmap of my talk today.

We have begun the biennial budget appropriations process in which we meet with legislators, the Commission for Higher Education, and state officials to explain Purdue's budget needs. I want to bring you up to date on where we are in that process.

I’ll talk today about progress on the individual elements of our Strategic Plan, and achievements that qualify as truly “new synergies.” These are the achievements of our faculty, staff, and students.

And finally, I'll talk about our future, laying out our plans for investments in education and research, as well as framing our long-term challenge to maintain our status as a public research university of distinction.

Let's begin by looking at some great Purdue moments from the past year.

Nobel Prize

In this slide we see photos of the beautiful Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, where Dr. Ei-Ichi Negishi was honored as a co-recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

It was a week he and Purdue will never forget. And this is a moment to thank the Journal and Courier newspaper for sending a reporter to memorialize the incredible week of events surrounding the award ceremony. Negishi was an eloquent spokesperson for science, for Purdue, and – with his message of hope and inspiration -- for all the world.

Sullenberger and Armstrong

It was a powerful moment when Neil Armstrong returned to campus last Fall to present Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger -- the Hero who landed his plane safely on the Hudson River – with the Neil Armstrong Medal of Excellence. They are Boilermaker role models who will forever be associated with great moments in history -- and both of them credit Purdue for much of their success.

Macy's Parade

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, 50 million viewers saw the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Purdue is the first marching band in the Big Ten to receive an invitation to perform ...and they made us proud! Thank you to Jay Gephart, his talented staff, and our students -- twirlers, Goldusters, Golden Silks, band members, all.

Dirty Jobs

The Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs was on campus to film a segment with Purdue's forensic entomology team in the College of Agriculture.

Our team took the host, Mike Rowe, through crime scene scenarios using dead pigs.

I watched the whole show, and quite honestly, it made me sick.

That aside, the show did an excellent job in demonstrating Purdue’s strength in agricultural and forensic sciences!

These are just a few of the widely-publicized achievements of our talented students, faculty, and staff in 2010.

I'll talk more about their successes later.

First I want to address an issue that is on everyone's mind -- the economy and our budget challenges.

Budget Update

As you know, we are in the midst of the biennial budget-setting process with the Indiana legislature. This is nothing new. We do it every two years.

As usual, we have presented our budget request to the Commission for Higher Education, and I have testified before the State Budget Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. You can see those presentations on our BudgetLink website, which can be accessed via the Purdue home page.

In my testimony, I laid out the work we have already done to identify cost savings, efficiencies and new revenue sources.

We understand the economic challenges facing the state and because of that, we have planned, assessed and looked ahead to take our fiscal fate into our own hands. It is thanks to your work that we have already identified more than $60 million in savings through spending controls and efficiencies.

There is more work to do. Since we submitted our budget, the Commission and the Governor have made budget recommendations that, combined, leave Purdue West Lafayette with an appropriation below our 2003-04 levels…and nearly 12% lower than 2008-09, which was on the eve of our last biennium budget request.

We continue to talk with our legislators about the commitments we have made to our students and the contributions Purdue makes to the state, the nation and the world. We emphasize that to maintain and increase our value and our reputation we draw from a national pool of faculty and staff; thus we must provide salaries and benefits that are competitive nationally.

The result is that we have talent that has started new companies and contributed mightily toward the economic development of the State. It is talent that has won Nobel and other prizes, and drawn much research investment to our State. We cannot compromise on quality, on the value of a Purdue degree, on the economic impact of Purdue on our State.

I hope you will follow our efforts by regularly checking the BudgetLink website and by attending our February 22 President's Forum, at which Treasurer Al Diaz will give us a detailed look at the University's budget and our work in meeting the fiscal challenges that face our state and our university.

Now, let's move on to some of our good news -- areas where we've made great progress over the past year.

Strategic Plan Overarching Goals

I think you all recognize this slide by now. It is our "New Synergies" Strategic Plan, which has focused on three key strategies: Launching Tomorrow’s Leaders, Discovery with Delivery, and Meeting Global Challenges, and the synergies among them.

The Plan’s goals are infused with a commitment to diversity, sustainability, good resource management, and enhancing the quality of life and educational opportunities for our Purdue citizens and local and State communities. These goals are not new – our university has always focused on learning, research, and engagement – but they are newly described and tuned for a new age.

I want to highlight our progress in these three areas, and then describe some of the new synergies that emerged in 2010.

Launching Tomorrow's Leaders

First, let me put the focus on the future leaders of our schools, our cultural and nonprofit institutions, our corporations and our communities ... our students.

We know that student success comes from being involved with world-class faculty in hands-on research, service-learning at home, research and cultural experiences abroad, community engagement, and a rich out-of-classroom experience that fosters inclusiveness.

We also know that our students will perform better if they come to us prepared for the rigors of a Purdue education.

At the October President’s Forum Vice Provost Dale Whittaker gave a detailed summary of the University’s goals, achievements, and plans for student success. I’ll mention only a couple of highlights here.

Academic Profile

I call this our "Boiler Up!" slide.

Our 2010 freshman came to us with the highest average SAT and ACT scores in our history.

Their high school class ranking and GPA are also better than ever before.

We have brought high-achieving students through our campus doors. Our job now is to keep them here and to help them succeed. That's retention ... and our record is improving.


Returning students showed a record first-year retention rate of 89 percent in 2010. Last year, it was 87 percent. Two percentage points in one year is terrific – we’d like it to be a trend!

Much of the success goes to the first-year programs targeted at improving retention.

Congratulations to Dan Carpenter and his staff who are responsible for the Student Access, Transition and Success programs, including Boiler Gold Rush ... to the advisors and instructors of our learning communities ... to Dean Leah Jamieson and the successful Ideas to Innovation engineering program that emphasize both hands-on and team learning ...and to Gerry McCartney and the very talented IT people who have made Signals and Hotseat such creative and useful tools that make the classroom a more interactive environment.

Featured in the New York Times last weekend was research by Purdue’s Jeffrey D. Karpicke, assistant professor in psychological sciences, who studies learning and memory in students. I know there are many more efforts throughout the academy that are focused on student learning, and I thank all of our colleges and their faculty for stepping up their efforts.

I’ll talk more later about learning research at Purdue, and an ambitious facility plan to invest more in student success.

Discovery with Delivery

Let’s move to the second goal in the Strategic Plan, Discovery with Delivery. Faculty and research staff have made tremendous strides in research and entrepreneurship this past year.

Award Trends

We reached a record $440 million in sponsored programs and research awards in FY2010 – that's a 30% increase over the previous year!

The nearly $100 million increase is the largest one-year dollar increase in the history of Purdue.

At the September President’s Forum VP for Research Richard Buckius focused on numerous examples of research through the lenses of the faculty performing the research. I have accompanied Richard in a number of venues around the State where he has lucidly illustrated Purdue’s success in discovery with delivery.

Here I have time to highlight just a few research programs.

Center for Cancer Research

The Purdue Center for Cancer Research, established in 1976 with a two-year planning grant, received its sixth competitive 5-year renewal from the National Cancer Institute.

Ours is one of only seven non-clinical National Cancer Institute centers ... and is interdisciplinary in its mission to promote and support cancer research at Purdue. In fact, faculty from the School of Veterinary Medicine, and the colleges of Pharmacy, Science, Health and Human Sciences, and Engineering are all involved in cancer research!

Thank you to director Tim Ratliff for your leadership. We appreciate all that you, the staff and faculty have done to make this Center so successful.

Military Family Research Institute

Funding was renewed for the Military Family Research Institute in 2010. The Lilly Endowment's generosity enables Purdue to work with communities, schools, organizations and the military so these families receive the assistance they need.

Congratulations to Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth and her team. This work is gaining national attention. Stacie Hitt, director of Operation Diploma for MFRI, was invited to discuss the program with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, who was chairing a White House Summit. In October, Shelley was invited to a signing -- in the East Room of the White House -- of a bill to boost provisions for military families. Yesterday she was invited back to the White House to be present when the President, First Lady and Mrs. Biden announce the results of the Presidential Study Directive on military families.

Templeton Foundation

Congratulations to Michael Bergmann and Patrick Kain, both from the College of Liberal Arts, who will lead a project to critically assess arguments for skepticism about moral and religious beliefs. This Templeton Foundation grant asks the "Big Questions" for the purpose of gaining new insights from open-minded inquiry.

Meeting Global Challenges

Now I’d like to turn to the third major goal of the Strategic Plan, Meeting Global Challenges. One could also call this educating today’s students for tomorrow’s world.

Global Experience

Purdue continues to have the second largest international student population among public universities. This helps all of our students better understand other cultures and recognize the value of differing points of view.

We also have more than 300 study abroad programs in 50 countries, offering our students a global experience that cannot be replicated it the classroom.

International Connections

Our faculty are conducting research with students on every continent.

Marc Caffee

And, yes, that includes Antarctica…Professor Marc Caffee, Purdue PRIME lab director, is using ice layers taken from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to look for past solar variations. He is hoping to correlate these with climate fluctuations.

Climate change is one of the grand challenges we are tackling at Purdue. Faculty members are doing research to increase knowledge that contributes towards understanding many of our global challenges better ...

Eric Calais

Professor Eric Calais is one of our shining examples of how research experience can help in an international crisis situation. Based on his accurate predictions and work with the Haiti earthquake, Eric was named science adviser for the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction Task Force.

Professor Calais was also part of the PBS series called "Nova Science Now". The show is called "Detecting Earthquakes."

Gebisa Ejeta

I’m sure you're familiar with the work Gebisa Ejeta has done in sub-Saharan Africa with sorghum research, which earned him the 2009 World Food Prize.

Professor Ejeta – in a partnership with the college of Agriculture and the Global Policy Research Institute – recently hosted a national workshop at Purdue. The participants included members of government and other national organizations, other universities, and the private sector. Their goal was to initiate a partnership to address food security around the world.

New Synergies

I’d like to speak now to “new synergies” that combine our goals for learning, discovery, and global engagement.

College of Health and Human Sciences

One example is the new College of Health and Human Sciences, which officially opened last summer under the leadership of Dean Chris Ladisch.

The new college brought together nine existing academic units from three colleges – Liberal Arts; Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences; and Consumer and Family Sciences. This realignment took great faculty leadership and will enhance collaboration, innovation and recruitment of students and faculty.

Global Policy Research Institute

Another new synergy last year was the Global Policy Research Institute (GPRI), which was formulated with participation from many faculty members from colleges and units across campus. I mentioned this already in the context of Dr. Ejeta’s goals for global food security.

GPRI links science and society. The Institute is led by Dr. Arden Bement, previously director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The institute has both research and learning objectives.

A learning element of GPRI is an undergraduate seminar on Global Policy Issues. The class comprises students from engineering, business, liberal arts and technology – all pooling their different educational experiences in a common goal to understand the importance of policy in addressing global challenges.

Discovery Learning Research Center

Gabriela Weaver, is leading a synergy in the new Hall for Discovery and Learning Research. The Center she is directing is focused on the science of learning, the design of innovative educational programs, and the development of interactive learning technologies. The Center oversees more than 30 projects involving 180 faculty members from every Purdue College and School. This research could dramatically change the pedagogy of higher education.

West Coast Partnership Center

Purdue’s new West Coast Partnership Center, led by director and Purdue alumnus John Boyle, will link Purdue’s expertise in engineering, technology and science with the West Coast's high-tech companies and entrepreneurs.

This synergy will help increase investment in the innovations of our faculty…enhance recruitment of students and faculty from the West Coast…and engage a larger number of alumni in the area. The Center is supported, in part, by investment from the state’s economic development corporation.

I’ve talked a lot about the collective achievements in learning, research, and engagement this past year. I would also like to mention the recognition that individuals have won as a result of their pursuit of excellence.

I already mentioned the terrific honor of the Nobel prize for chemistry faculty member Ei-Ichi Negishi.

National Academy of Sciences

Connie Weaver, from our new College of Health and Human Sciences, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, which is the health arm of the National Research Council. Dr. Weaver will advise the Institute of Medicine on issues related to nutrition and disease.

We recently recruited National Academy of Science member Jian-Kang Zhu to our College of Agriculture where he will continue his ground-breaking research on epigenetics and plant cell biology.

American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Joseph Francisco, R. Graham Cooks, and Fraydoon Shahidi were inducted into the 2010 class of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious societies.

Fulbright Scholars

We had three Fulbright Scholars named in 2010: David Eichinger, from the College of Education, is at Uganda Christian University where he is co-teaching biology courses and conducting workshops for primary and secondary school teachers.

Charles Ingrao, from the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts, is in Nicosia Cyprus where he is lecturing to the different ethnic groups in a town that is divided in half because of the conflicts between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.

Michael Witt, from the Purdue University Libraries, is lecturing and conducting research at the Bibliotheca Alexandria in Egypt. His research focuses on new roles for librarians in curating non-traditional digital information.

Early Career Awards

Faculty in the colleges of Engineering, Science and Technology have earned two Early Career Research Awards from the Department of Energy; one Five-Year Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation; and nine CAREER Research Awards…also from the National Science Foundation.

Congratulations to all.

Just as our faculty members are being recognized ... so is the institution as a whole and departments and programs within it.


Purdue was the only Big Ten University to go up in the U.S. News & World Report rankings in 2010. We moved from 22nd to 18th overall for national public research universities.

We also were recognized in 5 out of 8 student success categories ... identified among the best colleges for Return on Investment for our students by Bloomberg Business Week ...and ranked 4th in the Wall Street Journal’s survey of corporate recruiters, illustrating that employers believe our students are well prepared when they graduate.


Purdue has departments ranked in the Top Ten in nearly every College or School on campus. From our number-one Biological and Agricultural Engineering graduate program ... to our highly rated Speech-Language Pathology ... Interior Design program…and Analytical Chemistry program.

These acknowledgements are a testament to the quality of our academy ... and they show that the emphasis on student success is paying off.


Diversity is an integral part of achieving excellence, and it is an integral part of our strategic plan.

This past year Purdue created a centralized Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and recruited Christine Taylor as the inaugural Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer.

This Spring, Dr. Taylor's staff is launching an Equity Score Card, and a new Climate Survey to help us further assess where we stand in the area of diversity.

In this context, I'd like to recognize the successful efforts of some of our cultural groups:

Celebrating Diversity

Purdue's chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society was the recipient of the "Professional and Chapter Development Award" at a National Conference in Albuquerque in November. Congratulations to director Felica Ahasteen-Bryant.

With the leadership of Director Renee Thomas, Purdue's Black Cultural Center and the Black Alumni Organization encouraged youth to go to college and make positive life choices through their support of the 40th Indiana Black Expo in Indianapolis.

To continue to invest in the important goals I’ve described, we must continue to seek new sources of funding.


Last year, we reached some milestones for development, as illustrated in this slide. Now, our challenge is to build on the momentum and set the bar higher. Lisa Calvert, our new Vice President for Development, will help lead this charge.

We are preparing for a significant campaign that will help us continue to provide cutting-edge facilities, endowed professorships, scholarships, and more.

Mackey Arena

The Mackey Arena renovation has been part of our fundraising work. Drive down Northwestern and you'll see the dramatic progress being made – Athletics Director Morgan Burke tells me we are on target to complete the project for its grand opening on 11/11/11.

And when it is open…we will continue to cheer for our student-athletes who make us proud – just like we did last Saturday when Purdue hosted ESPN College Game Day before the nation.

Looking Ahead

We come now to the last portion of my address, that is, Looking Ahead.

I want to share with you selected, ambitious projects we are working on to ensure that we continue the innovative research, quality education, and global impact that Purdue is known for.

Life and Health Sciences Quadrangle

Addressing interdisciplinary research, education and impact will be a unique science park called the Life and Health Sciences Quadrangle. Its location is adjacent to Discovery Park, and its research is intimately connected with the work going on there.

The Quadrangle will benefit from:

  • Our world-class faculty and interdisciplinary research methods.
  • Purdue’s historical strengths in engineering, agriculture, structural biology, analytical chemistry, veterinary medicine, nursing, the health sciences, and pharmacy … and our history of fostering entrepreneurship.
  • Our expertise in guiding discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace.

This is a ten-year plan that is anchored by two major new facilities:

  • Drug Discovery Building
  • Health and Human Sciences Facility

Last fall, Purdue’s Board of Trustees approved financing and construction of the $25 million Drug Discovery Building that will be located adjacent to the Hansen Life Science Research Building.

It will bring our drug discovery researchers in the colleges of Science, Health and Human Sciences, Agriculture, Pharmacy, and the School of Veterinary Medicine into a common space that promotes and enables cutting-edge work.

The Health and Human Sciences Facility will combine our Speech Language Hearing Sciences Department, Medical Education Program (IU School of Medicine), and Clinical Facilities.

The goal of this new facility is to enhance interdisciplinary partnerships in Nursing, Medical Education, Foods and Nutrition, Health and Kinesiology, Psychology and Speech Language and Hearing Sciences. These partnerships will connect students to their eventual careers and help Indiana residents with services in our clinics. They will provide valuable education and training for our students.

Other planned facilities in the Life and Health Sciences Quadrangle will include an addition to the Bindley Bioscience Center; an Ag and Life Sciences Building; and a Research Animal Facility.

As you can see, we are investing in infrastructure in an interdisciplinary field that would bring together our talented scientists, engineers and social scientists in areas of research and education important to our State’s future in the biosciences. The Life and Health Sciences Quadrangle will help retain and attract the leading faculty and research grants that will further position Purdue to be a national leader in this rapidly evolving and important interdisciplinary field.

Student Success Corridor

Our student leaders have a long-term vision for student success, and we are investing in their plans. We call this vision the Student Success Corridor. It is mostly along Third Street.

As you know, the Recreation Center is getting a major makeover as a Health and Fitness Center – this is a project that was led by our students during all phases.

A second project that is also student led is the Center for Student Excellence and Leadership. The vision for this facility is a collaborative hub – a "one-stop shop" supporting student success. It will house peer advising, tutoring, and space for student organizations and student interactions. It is in the planning phase.

A third project is the newly-approved and donor-funded Bailey Hall for the Purdue Music Organizations. In addition, several colleges have joined in a proposal for a student projects facility. This would give students hands-on design and build opportunities while nurturing team, organizational and managerial skill development. In the longer view, there are plans for a combined building that would house an expanded library and classrooms.

I’ve spoken about investment in facilities.

We will also continue to invest in the infrastructure for research and its commercialization, with staffing, pre- and post-award support, and core facility investment.

We will continue to revolutionize the development of cyberinfrastructure for scientific collaboration, connecting researchers from around the world with vast amounts of computing power...helping them solve problems and share new knowledge.

We will invest in our scholars, realizing that profoundly new thinking and creativity requires recognition and a nurturing, interactive environment.

We will continue to invest in new approaches to teaching and learning, especially in our introductory classes and large classroom environments. We will emphasize learning that is combined with research and assessment so that we can determine what works for success, and invest in it.

I reiterate my support for innovative experiments in teaching practice, and my support for rewarding faculty who demonstrate both excellent teaching and excellent research.

I thank the faculty and support staff for focusing on the retention and graduation of our students, and for redoubling their efforts to realize in full the dual mission of teaching and research at a great university.

Hail Purdue

Hail Purdue: These words elicit pride in our institution. As I have shown, we have a lot to be proud about.

We have challenges from all our stakeholders in a changing climate for public investment in education. Last November 30 at this forum we hosted a panel discussing the future of public research universities. Certainly the funding model is under stress. Yet the value of a Purdue education, as our student body president Brad Krites eloquently pointed out at the forum, is there. We have a shared responsibility to preserve and enhance that value.

How we embrace and address the challenges before us will be how we define Purdue for the future.

We will thrive based on the choices we make – choices about cost cutting and cost containment, choices about investments in research and education, choices about which local and global engagements enhance our mission. Our real challenge is to take the future into our own hands and find workable, sustainable, and empowering solutions. That is what we do at Purdue. We are thought leaders; we are decision-makers.

We currently have groups of faculty, staff and students working some important near-term issues – such as the budget and our medical insurance plan.

I am announcing today the formation of a group of thought leaders among the faculty, staff, and students – under the leadership of Provost Sands – to put together plans to address the funding model for Purdue over the long-term. Their ideas will be the subject of future forums. I hope that by next Fall we will have plans before us that could be truly transformative.

As we meet our near-term and long-term challenges we can rely on these strengths in our academy:

  • A desire to tackle great challenges in order to make a better world
  • A capacity to think with freedom, and to act with creativity – to see what others have not seen before, and – in the words of Neil Armstrong – to land in strange places
  • And the passion to share our wisdom – and our leadership – with the future leaders of our country, our students.

And now, let's end on a salute to those leaders…these are the students of Purdue University!

Link to video salute