Daniels provides additional details on Purdue campus initiatives

September 9, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue President Mitch Daniels on Monday (Sept. 9) provided additional details to the University Senate on a range of initiatives at the West Lafayette campus designed to broaden Purdue's global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students.

"We've spent a considerable amount of time deciding how to leverage Purdue's historic strengths as we move forward," Daniels said. "This is no ordinary time for higher education, and we are determined to seize the opportunity to increase our investment in areas that have the greatest potential for impact. Our students will grow, not just academically, but in ways that truly prepare them to effectively work and live in today's world. Our research will deliver still greater benefits to our state and to all corners of the globe. And we will achieve this in a way that is fiscally responsible."

All of the moves fall into four broad categories: science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) leadership; world-changing research; transformative education; and affordability and accessibility. Under these categories, Daniels unveiled 10 initiatives targeted as priorities.

* Expanding the College of Engineering. Many of the world's global challenges can be best met through the field of engineering, yet the number of U.S. engineering students is declining. Purdue plans to dramatically increase the number of faculty and students in the College of Engineering to address this issue, even beyond the five-year expansion plan already under way.

* Transforming the College of Technology. The college, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, will be transformed into the Purdue Polytechnic Institute to serve as an incubator that enables innovation and encourages risk-taking. The goal is to transform the undergraduate learning experience and speed innovation with business partners to move new technologies from the lab to the real world.

* Strengthening computer science. There is a shortfall in the number of people trained to analyze and make sense of the vast amount of digital data produced in a wired world. Nearly every sector of the economy - from agriculture, to manufacturing, to retail - is increasingly reliant on "Big Data" to increase productivity. Purdue is well-positioned to recruit world-class researchers who will help provide graduates with the skills to design and use technology to achieve productivity goals and to ramp up efforts in research and with new hardware and software models to collect, analyze and disseminate data.

* Investing in drug discovery. People around the world seek relief and cures for a number of debilitating diseases - and drug discovery offers hope. At Purdue's Center for Drug Discovery, researchers are at work on more than 30 new compounds in various stages of development that hold promise to alter the course of disease. The goal is to accelerate the pace of drug discovery to move these compounds out of the lab, through commercialization and to the patient who needs it.

* Advancing plant science research. Top-ranked programs in Purdue's colleges of Agriculture and Engineering are positioned with the expertise and resources to discover ways to feed a growing world population. The goal is to find plants that offer higher yields, better nutritional value, make efficient use of water and nutrients, and can tolerate a range of environmental conditions. Purdue will place increased emphasis on research and education in plant biology and building capabilities to assess crop characteristics and performance through automated field phenotyping that will provide measurements to assess plant traits important for both research and commercialization. The work is geared toward discovering improved plants and plant products and moving them through the commercialization pipeline to the world's fields.

* Changing the way learning occurs. Purdue will apply research findings to undergraduate education in order to teach classes in ways that align with how students best learn. Part of the focus includes fewer traditional lectures and more group projects and optimizing faculty-student interaction by incorporating online and in-class components. In a redesigned general chemistry course, students performed significantly better on the American Chemical Society standardized exams and students had higher perceived levels of engagement, confidence and competence. Purdue has redesigned 62 courses based on this approach and plans to double the rate of transforming classrooms over the next three years.

* Engaging students with international experiences. Purdue has a large international student population, yet a relatively low percentage of the university's students study abroad. The goal is to double the number of Purdue students taking part in a study abroad experience, particularly those of a semester or longer, and to offer scholarships to make study abroad opportunities more cost neutral.

* Increasing success and value: Living on campus. Data shows that students living on campus have a retention rate that averaged 7.2 points greater over a 10-year period than their off-campus peers and a 10-year average GPA that is 0.15 points higher. Purdue plans to increase housing options so a majority of the student body has the opportunity to live on campus. New residence facilities would have classes taught in the residence halls, nearby faculty and adviser offices, and study areas.

* Becoming a year-round university. By providing the option to take a full slate of classes throughout the year, students would be better able to quickly and affordably advance their academic careers based on their needs and interests. Such scheduling options also would provide students greater flexibility to incorporate study abroad, internships or undergraduate research into their academic experience. A year-round academic schedule also would accelerate the time to degree completion and improve graduation rates. Purdue increased its summer enrollment by 11 percent this year.

* The value of a Purdue education. In 2013 Purdue announced a freeze on tuition and most fees and lowered costs for on-campus students for two years. The university will continue efforts to improve administrative efficiency while increasing scholarship offerings for students across a broad range of academic pursuits and financial needs with the overall goal of enhancing the value of a Purdue degree.

More details on the initiatives will be provided throughout the fall semester, starting Thursday (Sept. 12) at the President's Forum. Daniels and panelists are scheduled to discuss the drug discovery and plant science initiatives.

The forum runs from 8-9:30 a.m. in the Purdue Memorial Union South Ballroom, and a live webcast will be available at http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/z0mgo

The initiatives were developed over several months of work that involved deans, faculty and others at the university. The university's trustees also have reviewed and given support for the program.

Writer: Brian Zink, 765-494-2080, bzink@purdue.edu 

Source: Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu

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