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A Message from the President - May 2011

Spring Commencement

Spring Commencement

The month of May brings one of Purdue's most treasured annual events: spring commencement. For thousands of our students, the time has come to finish a thesis, a project or a paper, take that last exam, and perhaps do a final campus fountain run or a nostalgic stroll along Hello Walk.

As our West Lafayette graduates cross the stage at the Elliott Hall of Music, they will receive a precious piece of paper. Employers, graduate schools and partners around the world attest that a Purdue degree is valued thanks to the excellence of our programs, the prominence of our faculty, the success of our students and the reputation of our alumni. The diplomas are also a passport to engage with a world that needs the skills and optimism of our students.

Nearly 140 years ago, Purdue's first commencement took place with just one student. This year, nearly 9,000 students will receive diplomas from one of Purdue's campuses. They hail from every county in Indiana, every state in the country, and nations on nearly every continent. We congratulate and celebrate each of them as they anticipate using the knowledge and skills gained at Purdue to create a better world both locally and globally.

Beihang Signing

President Córdova visits Beihang University

I recently travelled to Beijing, China, for a Global Summit of University Presidents. We shared ideas about higher education, student success and global partnerships. My visit included attending the centennial celebration of the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, and signing of letters of agreement to collaborate in research with Beihang University and China Agricultural University, renown for aeronautics and agriculture, respectively.

I learned the Chinese term for collaboration is character1 character2 which means, literally, "working together to make." I am encouraged by the potential these partnerships have for Purdue faculty and students and our ability to advance global research projects.

Solar Racing

Members of Purdue Solar Racing team with Celeritas

Some exciting initiatives developed by our students revolve around alternative energy solutions. The Purdue Solar Racing team recently competed in the Shell Eco-marathon international competition and their vehicle, Celeritas, brought home the top award in the Solar Urban Concept Category. These students built and raced an urban commuter car for an equivalent of almost 2,200 miles per gallon. This month, our evGrandPrix team will travel to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to race at Emerging TechDay in the inaugural Purdue Collegiate evGrandPrix. The event on May 7 is part of the Indianapolis 500's 100th anniversary celebration.

Melissa Vargas

Melissa Vargas

This month, Purdue's popular "5 Students Who ..." website focuses on students who are policymakers. Combining a strong educational foundation, hands-on experience, leadership opportunities and a desire to make the world a better place, Purdue produces students ready to take on the world's challenges. One student, Melissa Vargas, an undergraduate in health and human sciences, is working with the Timmy Foundation at medical clinics in Quito, Ecuador, and uses her interest in public health promotion, sociology and language abilities to make a difference in the global health field. Find out more about student policy makers at 5 Students Who ...

We received some exciting news in April as three Purdue faculty members were elected as members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering and Ransburg Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Jay Melosh, Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Physics; and Ei-ichi Negishi, the Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and recipient of last year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will be inducted at a ceremony in October. The AAAS is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and we are proud of our most recent inductees.

Congratulations to all our graduating students. I wish each of you the very best. Your Purdue degree will take you far!

Have a great summer and Hail Purdue!


France A. Córdova