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Board of Trustees - August 30, 2010

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Good afternoon!

This is the start of a new semester and more than 74,000 Purdue students have arrived on our campuses at West Lafayette, Purdue Calumet, IPFW, Purdue North Central, and IUPUI.

A new academic year always brings with it excitement and energy, and our faculty and staff are ready for another great year.

The Purdue Board of Trustees called this special meeting to hear three important and timely proposals.

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Purdue's legislative appropriations request for the new biennium will be presented today for approval. This proposal is in response to guidelines from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the State’s Office of Management and Budget. As you will hear, the guidelines allow for no inflationary allowance and no new initiatives.

At the same time, the guidelines do request proposals that include adjustments for successfully completed credit hours at our regional campuses, increased research support at Purdue West Lafayette, and system-wide facility repair and rehabilitation.

We appreciate and respect the economic challenges faced by the State. We will redouble our efforts to provide value to our students and return on the State’s investment in us.

In addition, you will hear a proposal from us for a retirement incentive program. This would address our structural deficit by saving the institution money, mitigate involuntary layoffs, and provide Colleges and units an opportunity to restructure and recruit.

We are also seeking approval for facilities on our Life and Health Sciences Quadrangle. These facilities are critical to the advancement of our research objectives and have strategic significance for the economic advancement of life sciences businesses and innovation in Indiana.

Although not a subject of today's meeting, this is an opportune time to say a few words about employee compensation, which has been in the news lately.

When we submitted to the Trustees our operating request for fiscal year 2011, it included no salary increases for the second year in a row. We are aware that several other state universities in Indiana have raised salaries between 2% and 3% this year.

We are working to balance the desire to recognize, reward and retain our successful faculty and staff within the context of a challenging economic environment. We are assessing our financial situation at Purdue and looking at our budget capacity to make adjustments to compensation. While we are not prepared today to make a recommendation in this regard, we hope to do so at a future board meeting.

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Speaking of success, I would like to take a few minutes to highlight three recent accomplishments.

U.S. News & World Report has just issued their new national rankings and Purdue is the only Big Ten University that improved! While these rankings are not an objective in themselves, they are one indicator looked at by alumni and prospective students nationally and globally to gauge our continued progress.

We have also dramatically increased our sponsored research awards this year, and the academic profile of our entering students continues to improve.

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As you can see by these rankings, Purdue has moved up to 18th place overall among national public universities. This is up from 22nd place last year, and 26th place two years ago. We are 56th among all public and private universities, up from 66th two years ago.

Our undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering and Krannert School of Management also improved, ranking 8th and 19th respectively.

Purdue was also recognized by U.S. News in five out of eight student success categories: First-year Experience, Internships, Learning Communities, Study Abroad, and Writing in the Disciplines.

We are pleased that these programs have received national recognition.

Our rankings and acknowledgements show that the emphasis on student success in our strategic plan is paying off. In the section "Finding the Right College," U.S News described Purdue with a "reputation as big as space itself, and a student body trained to think locally as well as globally."

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Research is another a focus of our strategic plan. We garnered nearly $440 million system-wide in sponsored-program awards for fiscal year 2010, a nearly 30% increase over 2009. This increase represents 700 new jobs. The large rise in research awards reflects the talent and competitiveness of our faculty throughout the Purdue system.

The academic profile and preparedness of our student body continues to increase. This year's freshman class at the West Lafayette campus will have the highest SAT and ACT scores, class ranking and high school GPA in our history.

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We will maintain an emphasis on academic preparedness, which is vital to success.

Finally, it’s Fall – and time for team spirit, with cross-country, volleyball, soccer, and football in full swing. Athletics is one way our communities and campuses come together.

For example, the West Lafayette and Lafayette communities have united in a Spirit Campaign to encourage citizens far and wide to enjoy the special experience of a Purdue football game. 

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Both Mayors, the Chairman of the Greater Lafayette Commerce Board, our Athletics Director Morgan Burke and I met on the pedestrian bridge that spans the Wabash to kick off the campaign last week.

Our first game will be this Saturday, September 4, at Notre Dame. I know you'll all be cheering for the Boilermakers.

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In closing, I'm pleased to say we're in a strong position to begin the new academic year. We can all take pride in knowing that the contributions of our staff, our faculty, and our students continue to move Purdue forward.

Thank you. Hail Purdue!