A meeting of the Purdue University Board of Trustees convened at 10:55 a.m. on Friday, August 7, 2020, on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. The meeting was held in Stewart Center, Room 214, to allow for social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions were placed on the number of visitors in the room, and members of the media and the public who wished to observe the meeting virtually were provided such instructions. Everyone in the room was wearing a mask.

All trustees were present: Michael Berghoff, chairman; Sonny Beck; JoAnn Brouillette; Vanessa Castagna; Theresa Carter; Malcolm DeKryger; Michael Klipsch; Gary Lehman; Noah Scott; and Don Thompson.

Officers and administrators in attendance were: Mitch Daniels, president; Jay Akridge, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity; Chris Ruhl, chief financial officer and treasurer; Jim Almond, senior vice president, assistant treasurer, and assistant secretary; Steve Schultz, general counsel; Trent Klingerman, deputy general counsel (virtually); Janice Indrutz, corporate secretary and senior executive assistant to the Board; Ron Elsenbaumer, chancellor of Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Tom Keon, chancellor of Purdue University Northwest (virtually).


Chairman Berghoff called the meeting to order and noted that all trustees were in attendance. He welcomed new alumni trustee Theresa Carter, who replaced Thomas Spurgeon after he retired from the Board on June 30, 2020, with 15 years of service. Trustee Carter said it was a privilege and humbling honor to join the Purdue Board of Trustees, and serving on the Board would allow her to continue exercising her passion for Purdue.


The Academic and Student Affairs Committee, Physical Facilities Committee, and Finance Committee convened meetings prior to this Stated Meeting, with all trustees in attendance for each meeting. Chairman Berghoff read the list of items on which they voted to recommend full Board approval, which composed the unanimous consent agenda along with other routine items, as follows:

  • Minutes: Executive Session – June 11, 2020 and Stated Meeting – June 11, 2020;
  • Approval to award posthumous degrees: Anirudh Vasudevan, Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering, and Elefteria Onwuaduegbo (IUPUI), Bachelor of Science in Mathematics;
  • Ratification of Dr. Songlin Fei as the Dean’s Chair in Remote Sensing in the College of Agriculture;
  • Ratification of Dr. Riyi Shi as the Mari Hulman George Endowed Professor of Applied Neuroscience in the College of Veterinary Medicine;
  • Ratification of Dr. Pablo D. Zavattieri as the Jerry M. and Lynda T. Englehardt Professor in Civil Engineering;
  • Ratification of Dr. Alexandra Boltasseva as the Ron and Dotty Garvin Tonjes Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering;
  • Ratification of Dr. Anand Raghunathan as the Silicon Valley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering;
  • Ratification of Dr. Matthew W. Ohland as the Dale and Suzi Gallagher Professor in Engineering Education;
  • Ratification of Dr. Nikhilesh Chawla as the Ransburg Professor in Materials Engineering;
  • Approval of M.S. degree in Corporate Training and Communication Leadership (online program);
  • For Purdue Fort Wayne: Approval to change the name of the Department of Public Policy to the Department of Criminal Justice and Public Administration;
  • Approval of 2021-2031 ten-year capital plan;
  • Approval of 2021-2023 line item budget requests;
  • Approval of 2021-2023 budget for the Animal Disease and Diagnostic Lab;
  • Approval of 2021 medical plan;
  • Approval of contract in excess of $2,000,000 with Securian Financial Group to renew contract for terminal life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance;
  • Approval of purchase in excess of $2,000,000: high performance computer cluster;
  • Ratification of COVID-19 testing and health monitoring agreements; and
  • Approval of conflict of interest disclosures.

Chairman Berghoff asked if any of the Board members wished to have an item removed from the consent agenda for further discussion. Hearing no such request, and upon proper motion duly made and seconded, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the unanimous consent agenda. All supporting materials were filed with the minutes.


President Daniels profiled the gifts of $1,000,000 or more that the university had received since the Board’s stated meeting on June 11, 2020. The donors of these gifts were recognized in the following Resolution of Appreciation:

WHEREAS, the following friends of Purdue University have generously contributed $1,000,000 or more to move Purdue to greater excellence and preeminence; and

WHEREAS, the University wishes to acknowledge the significance of these gifts to new directions, advancements, and momentum in Purdue’s history, progress, and future;


1. That the University and the Trustees are grateful to these individuals for their leadership and support of Purdue University; and

2. That this resolution be spread upon the minutes of the Board of Trustees as part of the permanent record of the University.

FRIENDS: Ron and Susan Bock, to support the College of Engineering; Herb and Barb Perlich, to support University Initiatives; Ted and Terry Torgerson, to support the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics; the Walther Cancer Foundation, to support Purdue Center for Cancer Research; Al and Gladys Wright, to support Bands and Orchestras; Anonymous, to support the College of Science; and Anonymous, to support the Lyles School of Civil Engineering.

Upon proper motion duly made and seconded, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the resolution. Supporting materials were filed with the minutes.


President Daniels informed the Board that freshmen enrollment for the fall semester was almost 9,000 students. He said that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all undergraduate students were given the choice to take their courses online or on campus, with 88% of freshmen choosing to be on campus in the fall. President Daniels illustrated a record total undergraduate enrollment, and Provost Akridge joined him in explaining how classes would be delivered using both in-person instruction and technology. President Daniels focused on the enrollment of Indiana students and illustrated that their graduation rate had dramatically improved over the last decade. He was pleased to inform the Board that total enrollment system-wide, including Purdue Global students, was nearing 100,000.

President Daniels then discussed fiscal year-end results. He informed the Board that study abroad activities had been suspended due to the pandemic, and he provided an overview of frequently-tracked metrics. He indicated that it was the second-best year for research funding, with a record number of patents, and he illustrated the success of the Back a Boiler program, for which $4,500,000 had been raised. He said 434 students were currently taking advantage of the program. A copy of President Daniels’ report presentation was filed with the minutes.


Dr. Marion Underwood provided her first report to the Board since becoming dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences in 2018. She reminded the Board that the College was established ten years ago and was the second largest college in terms of undergraduate enrollment, with nine academic units offering 24 majors. She expressed her belief that no other academic unit in the country educated basic and applied sciences and offered clinical professional education across many health and human science disciplines like Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences. Dean Underwood discussed the College’s undergraduate profile and illustrated enrollment growth in various programs, and she informed the Board that HHS led the university in growth through Changes of Degree Objectives (CODO). Dean Underwood discussed the College’s three signature areas of research, highlighted faculty successes, and updated the Board on the results of the realignment of the College, which the Board had approved in June 2019. She informed the Board that the College was concluding a strategic planning process, which consisted of seven strategic themes for its next ten years, and she said the College had also undertaken a space master plan process which had identified that HHS programs were housed in 17 different campus buildings with many instructional and research spaces in need of investment. Dean Underwood also discussed the College’s efforts with regard to the pandemic. A copy of Dean Underwood’s report presentation was filed with the minutes.

In response to a question from Trustee Castagna, Dean Underwood discussed the delivery and effectiveness of online learning in HHS. She also shared that she had been leading a deans’ working group to consider post-pandemic innovation. Trustee DeKryger praised Dr. Libby Richards of the nursing faculty for her contributions to media reports regarding COVID-19, saying she had been providing practical, non-sensational information and represented Purdue well, to which Dean Underwood agreed. In response to a question from Trustee Lehman, Dean Underwood identified from what colleges students CODO into HHS.


Ms. Assata Gilmore and Ms. Hannah Walter, president and vice president, respectively, of Purdue Student Government for the 2020-2021 academic year, began their report by sharing their PSG campaign video with the theme of “Be Bold.” They formally introduced themselves and outlined four themes from which they developed their goals for PSG: build an inclusive community; operate sustainable practices; lead with intention; and dedicate time to wellness. Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Walter discussed PSG’s contributions to the Protect Purdue Plan and ways in which PSG had assisted students during the pandemic, and they informed the Board about their efforts to implement, and provide resources for, anti-racism and diversity and inclusion programming on campus. Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Walter concluded their report by pledging to combat racism on campus. A copy of their report presentation was filed with the minutes.

Trustee Brouillette expressed her appreciation for Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Walter’s goals. Trustee Lehman remarked, with regard to the pandemic, that PSG was facing one of the toughest challenges ever faced by the community and the student body. He asked that adherence to the Protect Purdue Pledge be PSG’s immediate priority, which prompted Chairman Berghoff to ask Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Walter how PSG would promote adherence to the Pledge. Trustee Thompson commented that he looked forward to working with PSG as chair of the new Diversity Task Force. Trustee Scott underscored that women did not have the right to vote when the university was founded and now the students had elected the female ticket to lead the student body. He said it was a remarkable ticket for a remarkable time in history, and he asked that PSG continue to hold the Board accountable.


Chairman Berghoff said the Board had received a request to name a rehearsal hall in the forthcoming Hagle Hall for Dr. Al G. Wright, Director Emeritus of Purdue Bands and Orchestras. He noted that President Daniels had earlier referenced a gift from Dr. Wright and his wife, Gladys, to support the Purdue Bands and Orchestras programs. Upon proper motion duly made and seconded, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name the Dr. Al G. Wright Rehearsal Hall. A supporting document was filed with the minutes.

Subsequent to this meeting, on September 5, 2020, Dr. Wright passed away. A copy of his obituary and a local news story was filed with the minutes.


Chairman Berghoff referenced the Board’s announcement during its June 11, 2020, meeting that a task force would be commissioned to address diversity on campus and ensure that every student had the opportunity to experience all Purdue had to offer. He announced that Trustee Thompson would chair the task force and asked Trustee Thompson to share his thoughts. Trustee Thompson echoed earlier remarks that this was an interesting time in history. He expressed his belief that a task force to address equity on campus was needed and said it was imperative that the initiative had substantial support from the Board, President Daniels, and the administration. He discussed what he believed should be part of the process to make it successful – a clear understanding that many, many people will want to provide input and data. He explained that opportunities would be prioritized with the goal of presenting comprehensive solutions to the Board by the end of the fall semester, solutions which could be acted upon to provide for equity of opportunity for all students, faculty, and staff systemwide. Trustee Thompson explained his vision that a steering committee would be formed to help engage the university, which, he said, would be designed to be a diverse, representative, and credible group, and a series of broader working groups would be formed to assist the steering committee. He asked that the university system be patient because the process would be deliberate, strategic, and intentional, and it would begin with data and gap analysis. He concluded his remarks by saying that Purdue was an institution of higher education and “we will use it to educate ourselves.”

Chairman Berghoff then called for a motion to approve the following actions:

Action #1: To authorize the commissioning of an Equity Task Force consistent with the following parameters:

  • The task force will be led by a steering committee to be organized and chaired by Trustee Thompson.
  • The steering committee will: (i) oversee the entire process, (ii) be supported by working groups to be identified and chartered by the steering committee, and (iii) report recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
  • The members of the steering committee will be selected by Trustee Thompson in consultation with the Board, it being understood that the steering committee is not directly appointed by the Board or its Chair, and its organizational and deliberative processes will not include exercising delegated authority from the Board to take official action on university business.

Action #2: To charge this task force with accomplishing the overall objectives as outlined by Trustee Thompson.

Action #3: To direct the steering committee to get underway as soon as possible in the month of August, to complete its work (with the support of the working groups) yet this semester, and to make a presentation to the Board of Trustees at its December 2020 meeting on the results of this vital initiative. This would allow the recommendations to be implemented in 2021.

Upon proper motion duly made and seconded, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve these actions. Chairman Berghoff thanked Trustee Thompson for leading the task force.


Chairman Berghoff observed that the fall semester would begin in two weeks and reminded everyone that it was only 16 weeks ago when President Daniels commissioned the Safe Campus Task Force. He said the business of running the university had significantly changed with the onset of the pandemic; however, with the recommendations of the task force and the subsequent Protect Purdue Plan, the intention was to be ready to receive students for the fall semester. He stated that the Board had been fully informed along the way, having convened special meetings to receive updates on and fully question the plans to safely reopen and having been engaged with the Safe Campus Task Force. He stressed that this had become the Board’s highest priority and asked members of the Board to share their thoughts and observations.

Chairman Berghoff began by saying he was most impressed with the talent at the university and how it had been deployed to support the safe return and teaching of students, and he expressed his belief that campus was fully prepared for the students’ arrival. Trustee Klipsch remarked that he was most amazed by the technology for contact tracing, which, he said, gave him comfort that people who would need to be quarantined could be tracked quickly. Trustee Castagna praised Provost Akridge and the faculty for the resilient pedagogy model and how it not only prepared campus for the fall but also for the future. Trustee Beck expressed his belief that the university would be successful with bringing students back to campus because of the excellent leadership by President Daniels and Provost Akridge, and Purdue’s efforts would serve as a model for other institutions and the greater good. Trustee Brouillette shared a number of reasons why she was comfortable with the plans to reopen campus, including the fact that the university addressed the issues early on, and she expressed her confidence in the plans put in place to minimize the risk of infection and protect the most vulnerable members of the Purdue community.

Trustee Thompson noted that plans to reopen campus in the fall were underway in the midst of the national Black Lives Matter movement, which, he said, prompted the Board to use the model applied to addressing pandemic preparedness to address diversity and equity across the Purdue system. He acknowledged the substantial investments in the Protect Purdue Plan and expressed his belief that “we are as well prepared as we can be while facing something like this.”

Chairman Berghoff stated that the Board was sober about the risk of executing the mission of the university during the pandemic but it was also motivated to fulfill the university’s mission. He passionately argued that doing so allowed PSG to pursue the initiatives discussed earlier by Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Walter, it allowed professors like those who were recognized today, during the meeting of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, to continue their research work, and it allowed the initiatives outlined by Dean Underwood to happen. He said, “Because the alternative is, if we don’t do this and we go 100% online, the climate here is much different. We’re not here. Nobody’s here. Nobody needs to worry about sustainability at Ross-Ade Stadium. Nobody needs to worry about sustainability at Owen Hall, because nobody’s here. Nobody needs to worry about the professors doing research because it’s not happening. This place shuts down. And that’s what we’re motivated by. We’re motivated to bend it around until we find adequate balance between the risk and the opportunity this institution can provide all the constituents who benefit from it, including the Greater Lafayette community.” Chairman Berghoff reiterated the Board’s support for reopening campus for the fall and said it was the Board’s consensus that the Protect Purdue Plan provided the opportunity to reopen successfully, and he concluded by saying the Board would continue to provide its support. He asked President Daniels to share the Board’s sincere appreciation with those who had pivoted their time and effort in order to develop and implement the Protect Purdue Plan.

Trustee Scott shared his student perspective about reopening campus for the fall. He expressed his belief that the necessitated innovations may revolutionize higher education, and he said there may be more positive outcomes for students than expected. He stated, “Don’t let the pursuit of perfection be the enemy of progress,” and recognized that everything would not be 100% perfect because “we can never be fully prepared for something like this.” To conclude, Trustee Scott challenged that other institutions had not done the astounding work Purdue had done to prepare to reopen campus in the fall during the pandemic.


By consent, the meeting adjourned at 12:26 p.m.