April 19, 2016  

Alumnus, longtime supporter provides gift for student leadership program

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Roger Stewart meets with the Old Masters Central Committee on Mondays to lend his counsel. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An alumnus and former corporate executive, whose retirement led him back to Purdue, has made a significant contribution to a leadership program at the university.

Roger C. Stewart's gift will support the director's position for the Leadership and Professional Development Initiative and Leadership Experience at Purdue (LEAP), housed in the Office of Student Life. The initiative promotes student success by helping undergraduates learn how to lead in the classroom, workplace, community and world.

The donation marks a step forward for the Ever True campaign, which was announced in October and seeks to raise $2.019 billion by 2019, the 150th anniversary of Purdue's founding. A key component of Ever True is to provide student support.

"I can't express enough the gratitude we owe to those like Roger who fondly remember their Purdue experience, achieve success and then pay it forward to current and future generations of Boilermakers," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. "For Roger, it's been more than his financial support; he has given of his time and talent to help develop our students for lives of leadership."

Stewart spent a 30-year career at Procter & Gamble Co., becoming vice president of global treasury. Retiring in 2005, he returned to his alma mater, where he had graduated in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in biology and, in 1974, with a master's degree in industrial administration from the Krannert School of Management.

He taught finance in the Krannert master's program from 2005-13, was director of the Krannert Graduate Development Center from 2009-11, and served as executive director of both the graduate and undergraduate programs from 2011-13. He has taught international finance in Purdue's German executive master's program in Hannover, Germany, and is now a student affairs specialist in the Office of the Dean of Students, working with student organizations.  

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Roger Stewart, middle meets with students Maggie Godleski and Eren Bozbag, who are members of Purdue's Old Masters program. He is an adviser to the students in the program, following his passion in helping develop leaders. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons) 
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Stewart, the president of Purdue's chapter of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity in 1970-71 and president of the graduate chapter in the '70s, also serves his passion to develop student leaders as a member of the Purdue Honors College Advisory Board and as an adviser to Purdue's Old Masters program and the Iron Key and Mortar Board senior honoraries. He says his selection as an honorary Iron Key member during the 2010-11 academic year is one of the highlights of his personal and professional career.

"Looking back, Purdue graduates are always impressed with their academic preparation by comparison to our peer and aspirational schools. Recruiters agree," Stewart said. "The Purdue work ethic serves us all well, whether in the workplace or graduate/professional school. However, hiring firms and graduate/professional schools are challenging all universities to place more emphasis on so-called 'soft skill' development, among them communications, understanding the importance of diversity, thinking globally, ethics. Purdue's new Leadership and Professional Development program - designed by faculty, staff, students and top recruiters — creates a best-in-class program on those soft skills. We are excited to introduce this to the incoming class of 2020 during their orientation this fall."

With his gift, the director's position will be renamed the Roger C. Stewart Director of the Leadership and Professional Development Initiative, which is under the vice provost for student life and vice provost for teaching and learning. Students receive leadership training through various academic co-curricular and programs on campus.

The LEAP program also will be named for him. The Roger C. Stewart LEAP (Leadership Experience at Purdue) program is the first-year leadership and professional development experience, which begins with undergraduate orientation programs, where first-year students are taught the importance of leadership and professional development. All first-year students will take the CliftonStrengthsFinder assessment to help them determine where their leadership skills are and to help develop them. Program funds also will be used for activities and educational offerings to introduce leadership and professional development.

"I cannot think of a better person to have his name attached to this leadership program," said Beth McCuskey, vice provost for student life. "Roger has a clear passion for working directly with students to teach leadership, and that has been ongoing for many years. We are grateful." 

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu 

Contacts: President Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu

Beth McCuskey, vice provost for student life, 765-496-0341, bmccuske@purdue.edu 

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