Purdue Past Presidents
France A. Córdova, 2007-2012
France A. Córdova is a world-renowned scientist, educator and administrator. As Purdue’s 11th president and the first woman to hold that role, she oversaw a strategic plan that emphasized student success, research deliverables and global engagement. During her presidency, she led Purdue to record levels of research funding, reputational rankings and student retention rates; championed diversity among students, staff and university leadership; and promoted student success, faculty excellence, education affordability and programmatic innovation. Under her leadership, Purdue expanded its role as a top research institution on the global stage and raised more than $1 billion through private philanthropy. Córdova's scientific career contributions are in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on X-ray and gamma ray sources, and space-borne instrumentation. She has published more than 200 scientific and public policy journal articles, reports and conference abstracts. She was co-principal investigator for a telescope experiment that is currently flying on the satellite XMM-Newton, a cornerstone mission of the European Space Agency. Córdova graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in English from Stanford University and earned a PhD in physics from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Purdue, she served in leadership roles at the UC-Riverside, UC-Santa Barbara and Penn State. She was chief scientist at NASA from 1993-1996.
Martin C. Jischke, 2000-2007
Martin C. Jischke oversaw a five-year strategic plan that focused on discovery, learning and engagement to make Purdue a preeminent institution. Jischke initiated a capital campaign that brought in more than $1.7 billion — unprecedented for a public institution in Indiana — and oversaw the University's undertaking of more than 50 capital projects, including the construction of 43 new buildings. He initiated a program to provide need-based Purdue scholarships to a student from each of Indiana's 92 counties, and he also started the Science Bound Program to provide eligible students from Indianapolis a chance to earn a four-year scholarship for a science-related career. The crown jewel of Jischke's tenure was the creation of the $300 million Discovery Park, Purdue's hub for interdisciplinary research that is home to 10 primary centers focusing on everything from biosciences, the environment and manufacturing, to oncological sciences, cyberinfrastructure and healthcare engineering. Jischke became Purdue's 10th president in August 2000 after serving nine years as president of Iowa State University. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology and his doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jischke's experience in higher education also includes 17 years as professor and dean at the University of Oklahoma and five years at the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Steven C. Beering, 1983-2000
Purdue University's ninth president, its second to hold a medical degree, came to Purdue after 10 years as the dean of the Indiana School of Medicine and director of the IU Medical Center. Beering's tenure at Purdue was marked by sustained growth in academics, facilities and private support. Enrollment and scholarship set records. More than 20 new buildings were constructed on the West Lafayette campus, and 13 others were expanded or renovated. Among the construction projects completed under his administration in West Lafayette were the Steven C. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education; a $32 million power plant expansion; Hillenbrand Hall, a student residence; and major additions to the engineering, veterinary medicine and athletics complexes. He also fostered efforts to make Purdue an international university. Private gifts grew more than fourfold to $90 million a year. Purdue's endowment became one of the largest in the nation, exceeding $1.3 billion. During his administration, annual support for sponsored research grew to more than $130 million. President Emeritus Beering and his wife, Jane, continue to serve as ambassadors and fundraisers for the University.
Arthur G. Hansen, 1971-1982
Arthur G. Hansen was the first Purdue president who also was an alumnus, having earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1946 and a master's degree in mathematics in 1948. At the time of his appointment as the University's eighth president, he had served as president of the Georgia Institute of Technology for two years. Under Hansen's administration, enrollment increased to more than 32,000, and new buildings were constructed for agriculture, psychology, life sciences and athletics. Hansen also supported the establishment of Purdue's first Black Cultural Center. He left Purdue in 1982 to become chancellor of the Texas A&M system.
Frederick L. Hovde, 1946-1971
Frederick L. Hovde came to Purdue at age 37 and presided over the University's greatest period of growth, leading to its emergence as a top research university. During his 25-year leadership, Purdue saw its greatest enrollment growth – from 5,628 to 25,582 students. Its annual budget increased from $12.7 million to $136 million. Hovde retired in 1971 as the University's longest-serving president. While he was president, Purdue established the schools of industrial engineering, materials engineering, technology and veterinary medicine. In 1975, the Purdue Executive Building was renamed the Frederick L. Hovde Hall of Administration in his honor.
Edward C. Elliott, 1922-1945
Edward C. Elliott led the University through the Depression and World War II. He was responsible for a major building program that saw construction of Ross-Ade Stadium, the Memorial Union and the development of the Purdue University Airport. During his tenure, the Graduate School, the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Purdue Research Foundation were established. He recruited top names to the University, including Amelia Earhart as a women's counselor, and he supported the Purdue Musical Organizations. Elliott Hall of Music is named in his honor.
Winthrop E. Stone, 1900-1921
After he served as the University's first vice president, the Purdue Board of Trustees named him the University's fifth president. Stone originally came to Purdue as a professor of chemistry. He appointed Purdue's first dean of women, Carolyn E. Shoemaker, in 1913. The schools of agriculture and engineering grew rapidly during his tenure, which ended tragically when he was killed in a mountain-climbing accident in Canada in 1921.
James H. Smart, 1883-1900
Purdue's fourth president, James H. Smart was a self-educated New Englander. Smart is known in Purdue history as "the engineers' president." The schools of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as the school of pharmacy and pharmacal sciences were established during his tenure. It was during his administration that Old Gold and Black were established as the school colors.
Emerson E. White, 1876-1883
In his inaugural address, President Emerson E. White declared that within its field Purdue must lead, not follow. Under his leadership, Purdue was set firmly on its course of emphasis on agricultural and "mechanic arts" as mandated by the Morrill Act. White also is remembered for his failed attempt to ban fraternities on campus, which led to his resignation in 1883.
Abram C. Shortridge, 1874-1875
Abram C. Shortridge was in charge when Purdue matriculated its first students on Sept. 16, 1874. Thirty-nine applicants were admitted, some conditionally. Women were enrolled for the first time the following fall. His administration lasted just 18 months due to his failing health.
Richard Owen, 1872-1874
Richard Owen, a professor at Indiana University, became Purdue's first president in 1872. At the time, there were no buildings, no faculty and no students on the West Lafayette campus, and Owen never actually occupied an office there. He was well regarded in the fields of geology, chemistry and medicine, and had a solid reputation as a teacher, philosopher and Civil War soldier. Through his belief in hard work and invention, Owen brought the Morrill Act's idea of an "Indiana Agricultural College" to reality. He resigned the day before the first class met.