MAY 7, 2020 | MINUTES

A special meeting of the Purdue University Board of Trustees convened at 11:50 a.m. on Thursday, May 7, 2020, on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, in Hovde Hall, Room 201.

On March 23, 2020, during the unprecedented, worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-09 which provided that all members of the Board (or a committee thereof) may meet by means of electronic communication so long as a quorum of members participated and the meeting was made available to members of the public and the media. Therefore, the meeting was conducted by video conference. Trustee JoAnn Brouillette was present in person and wearing a mask, and all other trustees were present via video: Michael Berghoff, chairman; Sonny Beck; Vanessa Castagna; Malcolm DeKryger; Michael Klipsch; Gary Lehman; Noah Scott; Thomas Spurgeon, vice chairman; and Don Thompson.

To comply with federal social distancing guidelines established to prevent spread of the disease, restrictions were placed on the number of people in the room. Only these officers and administrators were in the room, all of whom were wearing masks: Mitch Daniels, president; Jay Akridge, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity; Chris Ruhl, treasurer and chief financial officer; Steve Schultz, general counsel; Janice Indrutz, corporate secretary and senior executive assistant to the Board; and David Broecker, chief innovation and collaboration officer for Purdue Research Foundation. Others who attended by video were: Jim Almond, senior vice president, assistant treasurer, and assistant secretary; and Ron Elsenbaumer, chancellor, Purdue Fort Wayne.


Chairman Berghoff called the meeting to order and conducted roll call of the board members.


Chairman Berghoff said the Board had reviewed current findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Safe Campus Task Force, which President Daniels had established on March 31, 2020, in response to the pandemic. He discussed the vital purpose of the Task Force and the need to prepare to welcome students back to campus in the fall amid the pandemic, and he asked President Daniels to share his thoughts about this undertaking. President Daniels began by saying the fundamental reality was that over 45,000 students, a record enrollment, desired to be on campus in the fall, and he submitted that it was the university’s duty to make it possible for them. He offered his profound thanks to Dean David Hummels and Dean Willie Reed, co-chairs of the Safe Campus Task Force, and the members of the Task Force for their efforts to produce a thorough and conscientious report that included more than 100 initial recommendations. He pointed out that the Task Force included some of the best scientists on campus, and he informed the Board that a panel of medical experts from around the state had been assembled and would be consulted on an ongoing basis. President Daniels said decisions would be based on current data and the science available, and decisions would be made in good conscience to protect those members of the university community who were most vulnerable to the virus. He indicated that six actions were being recommended today, with many more to be expected. President Daniels expressed his appreciation to the Board for being engaged in the problem solving.

Chairman Berghoff responded that the Board recognized the significant undertaking and it was committed to working with the administration to consider the recommendations made by the Safe Campus Task Force. He emphasized that making it possible for students to return in the fall would require the effort of everyone across campus and said it was imperative to begin the work now. Chairman Berghoff then read the following resolution which included the first six proposed actions:

WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees (the “Board”) of The Trustees of Purdue University (the “Corporation”) has been entrusted for 151 years with the authority to do “all acts necessary and expedient to put and keep Purdue University in operation,” with this charge now codified at IC 21-27-7-4; and

WHEREAS, the Board has received, reviewed and discussed a number of measures recommended by the Safe Campus Task Force for preparing the West Lafayette campus to return to its learning, research and engagement missions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the objective of protecting the people of Purdue during this public health crisis, and particularly those who may be at greater risk for severe illness due to COVID-19:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the University’s leadership is hereby authorized to take all necessary actions:

1. To provide for an academic calendar for the fall 2020 semester that allows on-campus classroom instruction to start in August and finish by Thanksgiving break, with the balance of the semester to be completed thereafter by remote means and methods, and with the elimination of customary fall breaks and other adjustments necessary to accomplish this schedule.

2. To de-densify on-campus work spaces significantly, with a target of reducing the number administrative employees working on campus by at least one-third through the encouragement and enabling of telework and other remote work considerations.

3. To establish and implement a systematic testing regime, both for those with COVID-19 symptoms and those without, together with a mechanism for actively and accurately tracing contacts of those who test positive for the virus.

4. To add the annual influenza vaccination to the immunization requirements for enrolled students, faculty and staff as a condition to being on campus.

5. To order, acquire and maintain at least a 90-day supply of critical equipment and supplies for reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 on campus.

6. To identify and set aside a substantial number of rooms for the quarantining of those who may test positive for COVID-19 while on campus, the precise number to be determined based on student enrollment and medical developments.

RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the University’s leadership is hereby directed to report regularly to the Board on the development of more detailed plans related to these measures prior to their final implementation.

Trustee Scott moved approval of the resolution; Trustee Klipsch seconded the motion.

Trustee Thompson thanked the Safe Campus Task Force and expressed his belief that the six actions outlined in the resolution were bold, forward-looking moves which would bode well for students, faculty, and staff, and he said this is “not a time for the faint of heart.” Trustee DeKryger observed that the resolution allowed for latitude to move forward but also recognized the need for adjustments, and he suggested that the proposed actions should also be used as a template by the regional campuses. Upon proper motion duly made and seconded, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously by roll call to approve the resolution. A formal copy of the resolution was filed with the minutes.

Chairman Berghoff indicated that that Board would meet again on May 26, 2020, to consider additional recommendations from the Safe Campus Task Force.


By consent, the meeting adjourned at 12:07 p.m.