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February 6, 2014

My passion for Purdue: Chris Holford

Chris Holford

Kenneth (Chris) Holford, professor of biology and interim dean of the College of Science at Purdue University North Central. (Photo provided)
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As a professor of biology and interim dean of the College of Science at Purdue University North Central, Chris Holford recognizes the needs of a small campus. Holford believes his contributions to the PNC general fund and the Interdisciplinary Research Center endowment at PNC are two ways his philanthropy can make a difference.

"By giving to the general fund, I feel I'm supporting our efforts to increase accessibility and success on the regional campus," he says. "By giving to the College of Science Interdisciplinary Research Center endowment, I'm supporting my colleagues in their discovery efforts and providing research opportunities to our students."

Holford began his academic career at PNC in 2000. His path to academia and a regional campus was greatly influenced by his time as an undergraduate at the small liberal arts campus of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. He credits the interactions he had with faculty members at Augustana as having guided the trajectory for the rest of his life, and believes that much like his life was changed as an undergraduate, the faculty at PNC have the ability to change the course of the students whose lives they touch.

"That was what was appealing to me about working on a small regional campus like PNC," Holford says. "We have a lot of student-centered initiatives and I feel I can really have an impact on the students."

In addition to the effect he hopes to have on students, Holford feels the importance of supporting his colleagues at PNC in their creative endeavors. As a scientist, he has a strong attachment to the College of Science Interdisciplinary Research Center endowment, which benefits faculty discovery efforts.

"One thing we see on the regional campus like this is faculty engaged in research that is important to this region -- Northwest Indiana," he says. "Traditionally, there has not been a lot of funding for projects in this region. We hope this endowment will continue to grow and we can seed individual projects that are regionally important. The projects funded by this endowment will also largely incorporate undergraduates giving them great opportunities to work with faculty members on real scholarship."

According to Holford, the PNC campus has the feel of a small liberal arts campus but is part of Purdue University. "What we find is that people show up here, they fall in love with the campus and then they just stay," he says. "This is my first academic appointment, and I can honestly say I am a career PNC academic. I anticipate retiring from this campus."

In one way or another, all of Holford's giving relates to student success. "Our students and faculty represent Purdue, so I want them to be successful and carry our name and reputation out into the world," he says. "We are here to meet the land-grant mission of Purdue University."

* Faculty and staff who would like to share their own thoughts and stories about supporting Purdue should contact stewardship@purdue.edu or 49-43872.

Writer: Karen Pulliam, 49-43872, kp@purdue.edu