July 13, 2023
President Chiang continues visiting all of Indiana’s 92 counties
Retired Boone County farmer Brian Daggy has met with Purdue University presidents in the past. But none has compared with his recent visit led by Purdue President Mung Chiang that included a group of community leaders as part of the university leader’s goal to visit all 92 Indiana counties.
“President Chiang was very impressive. He clearly had done his homework about the economic development issues we’re facing here in Boone County,” says Daggy, a 1976 Purdue agricultural economics alum who farmed 1,250 acres of soybeans and corn for 25 years, then transitioned to ag-related roles before recently retiring. “Indiana has some of the world’s most prime farmland, a part of our economy we need to protect, while at the same time, we must be competitive in attracting new jobs, manufacturing and industry.
“Importantly, we need to think about what’s best, long term, for Indiana. And we look forward to the role that Purdue, under President Chiang’s leadership, can play in helping us strike that delicate balance,” adds Daggy, current president of the Boone County Farm Bureau.
“Purdue’s contributions to our state are deeply rooted in the land grant heritage that we continue to grow,” Chiang says. “Both the Office of Engagement and Purdue Extension presence in every Indiana county, as well as our regional campuses and statewide locations, always innovate in partnering with and serving our neighbors. I am particularly excited about the enhanced budget for Extension this year, and about the opportunity for Purdue to help with the build-out of broadband access in many counties.”
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- President Mung Chiang
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The majority of the president’s statewide visits have been coordinated through Purdue Extension, which has offices in every Indiana county. Through Extension, a hallmark of Purdue’s land-grant mission since the early 1900s, Indiana communities are able to connect with world-class Purdue research and a nationwide network of experts in agriculture, community, environment, family, food and youth — delivering “practical, research-based information that enhances lives and livelihoods.”
When harnessed to work toward Indiana’s well-being, Purdue’s collaborative capabilities have proven to be a powerful development tool, according to Roberto Gallardo, Purdue’s new vice president for engagement. Gallardo, who began in his new role July 1, has worked with regions over the past decade conducting local and regional community economic development across Indiana, including the use of technology for development.
“These county visits have been incredibly productive for the local officials on the ground as well as Purdue University and President Chiang,” says Gallardo, who accompanied Chiang on the June 26 visits to Boone, Fayette, Hamilton, Henry and Rush counties.
“On one side, President Chiang is perceived and known to the community, stressing that, ‘Hey, I’m here, I’m sitting down with you and I’m listening,’” Gallardo says. “Secondly, these visits have been phenomenal in the area of relationship-building between Purdue and our state’s stakeholders who are addressing serious economic development challenges at the local level.”
Andrea Hatfield, director of Purdue Extension-Boone County, says her office touches every aspect of the lives of Boone County residents, partnering with them to grow communities, train tomorrow’s leaders, champion mental health, advance their well-being and quality of life, and help in responding to a STEM world.
And the recent Boone County visit by Chiang, Hatfield says, was well received — and especially timely — for the community and those representatives who were a part of the informal meeting. The goal, she says, is how Boone County can balance its storied agricultural heritage with the economic development opportunities offered through the Hard Tech Corridor connecting Indianapolis through Boone County to Purdue in West Lafayette.
“President Chiang’s visit was extremely positive. The Boone County community appreciated that he took time out of his busy schedule to meet with them,” Hatfield says. “He stressed how Purdue can be a resource in helping in the areas of economic development that are a big part of our county now as well as the incredible value he places on Purdue Extension. We also know what the Hard Tech Corridor will mean for our community and the issues surrounding that.”
Adds Gallardo: “Each county has its own issues and challenges, and they have their own success stories, too. But the common denominator is Purdue’s adaptive and responsive involvement through Extension and/or additional engagement activities.”
Since August 2022, President Chiang has embarked on six tours of statewide visits, each covering 5-7 counties in a region of Indiana. Additional tours are being scheduled in 2023-24.
Chiang says the key pillars of Purdue’s land-grant mission — learning, research and engagement — are providing the university with the firm foundation for achieving excellence at scale as the most consequential public university in the United States. By visiting all 92 counties in Indiana, he says, he is sending the message that Purdue is a trusted partner and resource for addressing challenges and seizing opportunities in different parts of the state.
Writer: Phillip Fiorini, firstname.lastname@example.org