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President's Message - November 2009

Greetings Purdue Supporters,

Last month we celebrated Veterans Day and paid tribute to the heroic efforts of all armed forces members who have protected our country in peace and war. Countless Purdue University students, faculty, staff, and alumni are active in or veterans of military service. Our campus celebration honored all of them with a fired 21-gun salute; the sharing of thoughts by three guest speakers, including student veteran Abraham Trindle; and a patriotic tribute performed by the Purduettes in the Purdue Memorial Union.

Stefany Mertins Jones

Currently, we have 362 Purdue students utilizing their GI Bill benefits to attend classes on the West Lafayette campus and at the College of Technology’s statewide locations. These students and their needs can be quite different from Purdue’s traditional students. They are typically older; about half of them are married with children; and most are employed full or part time. Some, like Purdue student Stefany Mertins Jones, are maintaining long-distance relationships and temporarily leaving families to pursue their education.

Purdue’s Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) can be a beacon for these service members and their families. Founded in 2000, MFRI research focuses on the effects of deployment on military families and the post-combat transition to classrooms and communities for soldiers and their families. A $5.8 million grant from the Lilly Endowment  has helped the institute continue its research and support to soldiers and veterans at a time when it is most needed. Titled Operation Diploma, the MFRI-administered grant provided more than $270,000 in funding for veterans-related support at 21 Indiana higher education institutions this past summer.

Professor MacdermidMRFI director and Purdue professor Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth guided legislation on veterans benefits this year while serving on a committee appointed by the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs. MacDermid visited the White House October 28 to attend the signing of the expanded Family and Medical Leave Act, which addresses the recommendations of the committee and provides job protection and care provisions for veterans and their families.

In addition to research, MFRI coordinates relevant conferences and events, such as the “Our Heroes” tree program. During November, more than 70 Indiana libraries are displaying trees with ornaments created by community members in honor of loved ones who are soldiers and veterans.

This fall Purdue invested further in veterans. A new financial aid program titled Yellow Ribbon provided 50 qualifying men and women with $2,000 each from Purdue, which was then matched by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, a group of veterans’ disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan took part in an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. Hosted by Purdue’s Krannert School of Management, participants learned how to build their own businesses during the seven-day intensive course.

The tradition of military service and preparation for military leadership have long been a part of Purdue University. Our ROTC program began in 1888 under its first title “The Corp.” Currently, there are nearly 500 Purdue students enrolled in our University’s Air Force, Army, and Navy ROTC programs.


Like most universities in the mid-1940s, Purdue admitted an influx of World War II veterans with the passage of the GI Bill in 1944. Purdue opened more than 40 extension centers across Indiana to serve the vast number of WWII veterans. By 1950, three times as many college degrees were conferred nationally as in 1940, in large part due to those veterans who returned home, pursued higher education and have come to be called "The Greatest Generation."

We are grateful for the sacrifices that all of our dedicated armed service members and veterans make on a daily basis to preserve our freedoms as individuals and as an institution of higher education. The ongoing initiatives by our University to support them are very small gestures in comparison to the sacrifice that they have made and are making to protect our nation and to pursue world peace.

We are grateful for these heroes and pray for their safe return as well as to say “thank you” to those who have served their country.


 France A. Córdova

France A. Córdova