As I recover from a Sun Bowl trip that was a delightful experience, even though it didn't bring a Boilermaker victory, I am able to reflect on the year 2001 my first full year at Purdue with some pride, but with even more optimism for the new year.
Without question, Purdue's highlight of 2001 was our Board of Trustees' approval on November 2 of strategic plans for four of the University's campuses. The trustees' action was the culmination of more than a year of work by many people. The effects will reverberate for many years to come as we navigate the course charted by these plans.
Although the development of a strategic plan for a large organization such as Purdue is a difficult, complex and lengthy process, the goals of strategic planning are straightforward and simple. We decided:
Where the University should go over the next five years;
How it will get there; and
The resources needed for a successful trip.
Purdue has determined that it will be a preeminent university, advancing quality in all areas, leading the world in basic and applied sciences and engineering, and contributing to societal progress, especially in Indiana.
By making these decisions, we have empowered ourselves to focus on the initiatives necessary to achieve that preeminence. I am confident we will succeed.
Another tremendous moment came in September when we unveiled plans for the $100 million Discovery Park complex. We were able to leverage a $5 million commitment from the State of Indiana into a major investment that promises to bring significant benefits to our state and beyond. Generous personal gifts from Purdue trustee Mike Birck and his wife, Kay, and from alumni Bill and Carol Scifres will help build the Birck Nanotechnology Center, the first of four centers planned for Discovery Park. A major grant from the Lilly Endowment will help support operations. The Discovery Park complex also will include a bioscience/engineering center, an e-enterprises center and a center for entrepreneurship.
With additional support from other private donors and the federal government, Discovery Park is an outstanding example of what we can achieve when higher education, government and the private sector work together unselfishly to create something for the public good.
Enrollment on the West Lafayette campus hit an all-time high of 38,208 students, with the freshman class also setting a record for academic achievement. The performance of our students in the classroom and in the job market is a powerful combination, and increasing numbers of high school graduates are recognizing the value of a Purdue education. These young people are fully aware that fees will be significantly higher for new students next fall, but the number of applications for enrollment continues to climb. The academic achievement level of the next freshman class will be even higher.
Like the rest of the nation, the Purdue community was rocked by the events of September 11, 2001. People on all campuses found positive ways to respond to the tragedies. These responses ranged from memorial services to fund drives for victim relief to efforts to understand the cultural dynamics that underlie the terrorists' actions. American flags appeared on cars and in buildings, as people discovered the depths of their own patriotism. Instead of weakening America or frightening its people, the terrorist acts have made us stronger and more determined to defend our way of life.
The Sun Bowl trip to El Paso was the culmination of an excellent year for Purdue sports teams. The Boilermaker women played in the NCAA basketball championship game; the men played in the National Invitation Tournament. Purdue athletes continued to excel in the classroom, maintaining an overall grade point average slightly higher than that of the student body.
By the beginning of 2001, Patty and I were fully settled into Westwood, our home near the West Lafayette campus. More importantly, we also were completely comfortable as Boilermakers. We know that Purdue is the right place for us, and we are ready for another year at the University we love!
Happy New Year!