August 3, 2019

Purdue commencement celebrates most recent graduates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — More than 1,400 students became alumni during summer commencement Saturday (Aug. 3) at Purdue University.

 Purdue alumnus James Thomson, president emeritus of the RAND Corp., a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution that helps improve policy and decisions through research and analysis, gave the keynote address for the event, held in Elliott Hall of Music.

Thomson served as CEO of RAND from 1989 to 2011. He began working at RAND in 1981. He also is an internationally known expert on defense and arms control issues and has served on the staff of the White House National Security Council and the Department of Defense.

Thomson holds an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of New Hampshire, and master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from Purdue. He also holds honorary doctorates from both his alma maters and from Pepperdine University.

About 1,491 students were eligible for degrees, with 535 undergraduates, 952 graduate and four professional program students eligible to participate in the ceremony.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels attended the ceremony, and Matthew C. Pharris of Phoenix provided the student response. Pharris received his doctorate in biomedical engineering. He also had received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue. He served in Purdue Graduate School Government for three years, culminating with his term as chair of the Graduate School Senate. He was one of five recipients of the Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Awards. He also co-authored six research publications and delivered nine poster or platform presentations. He is now working in a postdoctoral fellowship with AstraZeneca analyzing clinical trial data for predicting cardiovascular patient outcomes. 

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-496-2571,, @mo_oates 

Source: Christine Pass, 765-494-6163,

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