Purdue celebrates $10 million gift for center dedicated to student excellence, leadership

April 27, 2012

First-year Purdue students participate in the university's popular Boiler Gold Rush orientation program. The weeklong program, organized by Student Access, Transition and Success (SATS), is one of many that will be located in the new Center for Student Excellence and Leadership. Research shows that students who participate in these orientation programs are more likely to succeed in school and graduate. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University on Friday (April 27) celebrated a $10 million gift and plans for a new student-centered facility that will be the focal point of a campus area dedicated to encouraging student excellence and leadership.

"This center is a critical element of the Student Success Corridor, which creates a bridge between residential and academic life; it will be an inspirational environment for student development and leadership," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "We are very appreciative of this gift, which focuses on learning and student achievement."

The gift, from an anonymous donor, will be used as a one-to-one match to generate a total of $20 million to construct and support the $30 million Center for Student Excellence and Leadership. This match also will provide an incentive to invest an additional $8 million in deferred gifts toward an endowment to support the facility's long-term maintenance and operating costs.

Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics also is a key partner in this project, contributing $12 million over six years through Big Ten Network revenue toward the facility's total cost. Athletics director Morgan Burke said the new center would be an asset in recruiting students and student-athletes to Purdue because it will be a key element in the campus area dedicated to student life.

The Student Success Corridor - a place where students live, study and play - is located along Third Street. It includes residence halls to the west, as well as the Recreational Sports Center, dining courts, Black Cultural Center, fraternity and sorority houses, and the new Vawter Field Residence Hall located between Wiley and Windsor residence halls.

The motivation for the center came from students, and the concept was advanced with a team of students, faculty and staff that studied student needs as part of the "launching tomorrow's leaders" component of Purdue's New Synergies strategic plan.

The Center for Student Excellence and Leadership is a critical element of the Student Success Corridor, which creates a bridge between residential and academic life. The four-story, 50,000-square-foot center, also known as CSEL, will be constructed at Vawter Field at the corner of Jischke Drive and Third Street. It is scheduled to open in late 2013 or early 2014. (Image provided)

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"Students have been a strong and leading voice in this project from its start, and this is really about students helping students," said Brad Krites, a graduate student in the Krannert School of Management and co-chair of the center's planning committee. "This will be located in one of the most vibrant hubs across from the newly renovated Recreational Sports Center and right in the heart of the residence hall district, so you can envision thousands of students flooding Third Street to and from class every day while this magnet draws them together."

The four-story, 50,000-square-foot Center for Student Excellence and Leadership, also known as CSEL, will be constructed at Vawter Field on the corner of Jischke Drive and Third Street. It is scheduled to open in late 2013 or early 2014. The center also will be LEED-certified for energy efficiency.

"Purdue has high expectations for its students, and to be sure that they succeed we want to provide the resources, structure and opportunity to do so," said Timothy Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. "The new center enhances that support system by bringing together our key student services such as programs focused on retention, student activities and academic support."

The building's first floor is designed to be a public space between work and home for faculty, staff and students to meet and interact. Students also will have access to an e-community where they can plug in and utilize a First Stop shop for students seeking assistance in their academic or co-curricular activities.

"The learning experience at a university is ongoing, and by supporting such opportunities beyond the classrooms, we help students apply what they learn in their studies to leadership and organizational settings that mirror career or community experiences after graduation," said Melissa Exum, vice president for student affairs. "The new center will provide central space and offices for our diverse student organizations, and it also will create a community that inspires more students across all disciplines to engage in university life."

The second floor will be the Student Organization Hub, which will provide individual office space as well as community work areas. The third floor will house Student Organization Support Services, such as Student Leadership Development, which will include the Leadership Engagement Institute, a one-of-a-kind program that will provide the framework for every Purdue student to engage in a leadership experience. Other programs on the third floor will be Boiler Volunteer Network, Student Activities and Organizations, and the business office for student organizations.

The fourth floor is the Academic Success Hallway and will house Student Access, Transition and Success (SATS) and HORIZONS. These offices run the following programs, many of which have earned national recognition for their efforts in improving retention rates and academic success.

* Boiler Gold Rush, the fall orientation program for first-year and transfer students.

* Learning Communities, a program in which groups of 20-30 students take two or three courses together and often live in the same residence hall.

* Purdue Promise, the program that supports low-income, first-generation college students through required courses, learning communities, peer mentoring and individual support from SATS staff.

* Supplemental Instruction, an academic assistance program that offers students regularly scheduled peer-led study sessions.

* Academic Success Center, a center that offers a variety of educational services and courses to individual students.

* HORIZONS, a program that provides support in life and study skills for students who qualify based on financial need.

In addition to these programs, tutoring rooms and satellite locations of other existing academic help centers also will be located on the fourth floor.

"The Academic Success Hallway will be a living laboratory as we continue to develop programming and educational resources to improve the learning experience," said Dale Whittaker, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs. "For example, our orientation and retention programs continue to win awards, and we are in the second year of IMPACT, which is reshaping the traditional large-lecture classroom format for science, technology, education and mathematics courses. This new center will be our catalyst on campus for new approaches and research that improve student learning."

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                  Brad Krites, bkrites@purdue.edu

                  Timothy Sands, 765-494-9709, tsands@purdue.edu

                  Melissa Exum, 765-494-5776, exum@purdue.edu

                  Dale Whittaker, 765-494-6970, dwhittak@purdue.edu