First $1 million gift to Purdue Honors College supports new facility, launches new scholarship program

December 8, 2015  

Honors College

This rendering shows the planned Honors College and Residences facility. (Purdue University image)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University’s newest college has received its first $1 million gift, supporting an academic and residential facility and initiating a scholarship program.

Thomas and Martha Murdock’s contribution to the Honors College provides $750,000 for facility support and $250,000 to establish a scholarship program in their name. The scholarship funds will be matched 1:1 via the Purdue Affordability Scholarship Challenge.

The Honors College, which admitted its first students in fall 2013, currently enrolls more than 1,800 undergraduates and provides exemplary living and learning experiences, helping students develop academic leadership skills in a diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars. The Honors College brings together scholars from all areas of study across campus in pursuit of academic excellence.

“The Murdocks’ generosity and example will help our new college forge our future,” said Rhonda Phillips, dean of the Honors College. “This inaugural major gift is a catalyst – for creating community, for encouraging scholarship at the highest levels among our students, and for inspiring others to achieve transformative impact through their own philanthropic giving.”

The Murdocks’ gift provides support for the 322,000-square-foot Honors College and Residences facility, which will serve as the administrative home of the academic program and as a living-learning community housing approximately 820 students and providing 40,000 square feet of academic space. The complex is scheduled to open in fall 2016 at the southwest corner of Russell and Third streets.

“When we learned from Dean Phillips of the interdisciplinary and collaborative environment being established through the Honors College, we thought it to be a superb opportunity for the students and scholars alike to live, study and excel in a multidisciplinary setting similar to the one that was the foundation of our success,” said Tom Murdock, who graduated from Purdue in 1971 with a degree in electrical engineering.

Murdock’s 40-year career combined 20 years of Navy service with 20 years in the electronics industry, culminating in the co-founding of an electronics firm. “Our hope is that our donation will expand that opportunity to students who, while highly qualified, might not have the means to attend Purdue and that others will add their contributions to further the goals of the college, its staff and students.”

Through the Murdock Scholars program, the couple’s gift will fund scholarships annually for students in the Honors College, providing support for recipients during their tenure at Purdue. By awarding scholarship dollars to students and helping to provide residential housing, the Murdocks’ gift will further Purdue Moves, the university initiatives announced by President Mitch Daniels in 2013, which include increasing student affordability and raising the proportion of Purdue students living on campus to 50 percent. Students who live on campus achieve greater academic success and graduation rates than those who do not.

The gift also supports “Ever True: The Campaign for Purdue University,” a $2.019 billion fundraising initiative announced in October 2015. The campaign priority “Place students first” calls for doubling student support and providing collaborative, state-of-the-art learning environments. The Murdocks’ contribution is the first at the leadership level of $1 million or greater to the Honors College and Residences.

For further information about the Honors College, and to discover ways to participate in the development of Purdue’s newest college, please visit

Source: Rhonda Phillips,

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