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President's Message - October 2010

Our students and our research have always been strong points of pride at Purdue.

The world is taking note.

The quality of our students and our mastery in research -- key components of what we 'do best' as an institution -- recently have been noticed in exciting ways. 

I am fond of saying that students are at the heart of everything we do at Purdue. Preparing these citizens of tomorrow is the primary mission for any institution of higher education. Purdue students are special, though — special in the way they think, interact and solve problems. This is apparent in the eagerness with which our industry partners hire our students upon graduation, and in how many of our students leave campus and go on to become globally recognized leaders.

Corporate recruiters
Students participate in one of many job fairs on campus.

The world is taking note of our students.

The Wall Street Journal recently released a survey of corporate recruiters in which Purdue ranked fourth in the nation for preparing students for the workforce. We are sending graduates into the world who are well-rounded, with a strong work ethic, strong leadership skills and real-world experience.

This recognition emphasizes our success as an institution in meeting our students’ needs. It also illustrates progress on our strategic plan goal of “launching tomorrow’s leaders,” of transforming how students learn, grow and approach life in the larger world. Seeing the University’s efforts reflected in these rankings is gratifying, but what is truly rewarding is seeing our students shine among their peers.

Interns for Indiana students
Purdue University students Sean Smith, Arjun Bhasin and Cody Ward took part in the Interns for Indiana program.

This fall, three Purdue students capitalized on first-time internship opportunities to secure “real” jobs in the Purdue Research Park. Students Cody Ward, Sean Smith and Arjun Bhasin took part in the University’s innovative “Interns for Indiana” program as undergraduates, a program that matches students with high-tech startup companies in Indiana. Students benefit through real-world hands-on experience; companies benefit from the fresh ideas and knowledge students bring to the workplace.

While interning at Rook Consulting, these three promising entrepreneurial students developed an IT risk management application for use in health care, financial services and various other sectors. They then developed a go-to-market strategy for their product. Their entrepreneurial spirit was recently rewarded with permanent jobs. Interns for Indiana is just one example of how Purdue employs innovative means to position students for success.

This month’s “5 Students Who ...” feature highlights some of the groundbreaking work another group of Purdue students is doing. Their passion to make a difference in the world has brought them face-to-face with sustainability issues around the world. Their research interests are as varied as their backgrounds; they strive to address global challenges in the fields of physics, agronomy, ecological science and interior design.

5 Students Who ...
Isaac Emery of Corvallis, Oregon, is one of five students making a global impact.

Pairing excellence in teaching and learning with service to the community and the state is at the heart of the land-grant mission to which we aspire. While our students are meeting the world head on and taking on challenges of global and local significance, we as an institution work each day to sustain our position as a leader in discovery that shapes a better world.

Research at Purdue
Purdue cancer researchers categorize plasma samples at a research lab at Bindley Bioscience Center in Purdue's Discovery Park.

The world is taking note of our research.

Last month we reported record investment in the University in the form of research funding — a central focus of our “New Synergies” strategic plan — which was at an all-time high in the last fiscal year. Awards reached $438 million, representing an increase of $96 million from the previous year.

We endeavor to benefit Indiana and its people through pioneering research and engagement, and to share knowledge with partners and collaborators globally. Our “discovery with delivery” model is reaching its mark. Investment of research funding at these levels demonstrates confidence in our talented faculty and researchers, our programs and initiatives, and our facilities.

To affect positive change both locally and globally, it is also essential that Purdue participate in the national conversation about the importance of research institutions.

White House meeting
A White House visit with Vice President Joe Biden in September was a rare opportunity to share our research accomplishments.

Last month, I joined Vice President Joe Biden and a select group of university presidents for a roundtable discussion about research in higher education. This was a rare opportunity to share information about our pioneering approach to discovery and the impact it is making around the world. Video of our discussion is available at

Purdue’s place at this table is recognition of our ever-increasing national reputation in using research to jump-start innovation to move the world forward.

Dow AgroSciences greenhouses
A new 11,000-square-foot greenhouse in the Purdue Research Park.

Companies large and small are taking notice. Dow AgroSciences is one. Last month, we celebrated the dedication of a new 15,000-square-foot research facility and 11,000-square-foot greenhouse on the campus of Purdue Research Park. These facilities are now home to Dow scientists and student interns from Purdue, who will collaborate in advancing the company’s global agricultural research.

This partnership, brought to life by state-of-the-art facilities, represents Purdue’s commitment to building the life sciences, bringing jobs to our community, research opportunities to our students, and new discoveries to our world.

Homecoming parade
Homecoming activities this month will bring countless alumni and friends back to campus.

This month will highlight more such collaborations and celebrations. The campus community looks forward to a busy month, including Homecoming activities Oct. 13-16. We will welcome alumni and parents back to campus for a number of events. One need look no further than the mall in front of Hovde Hall during Homecoming weekend; the excitement and pride of Purdue spirit will be palpable.

Speaking of Purdue spirit, our marketing office has been hard at work creating new materials to showcase our great University. Come Homecoming weekend, I know you will all be proud of the results. Our Boilermaker heritage will come to life in new ways to highlight our strengths, celebrate our achievements and advance our bright vision for the future. This will truly bring to life the recent U.S. News & World Report quote that Purdue "has a reputation as big as space itself, and a student body trained to think locally as well as globally."

Each of you plays a role in that vision, and we look forward to your input and insight as we move Purdue forward.

Hail Purdue!

France A. Córdova