April 9, 2021

Purdue launches Next Moves initiatives

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University on Friday (April 9) officially launched Purdue’s Next Moves – five new distinct strategic initiatives designed to advance the university’s competitive advantage in its continuing quest for leadership among the world’s top research and teaching institutions.

Purdue’s Board of Trustees, during its public meeting at the West Lafayette campus, heard from initiative leaders and voted to approve the Next Moves and an investment of $260 million over five years, with an estimated $182 million from university funds and an additional $78 million from external sources.

“Since 2013, Purdue has advanced an ambitious agenda that we call the Purdue Moves to place us among the great academic institutions of the world,” trustees Chair Mike Berghoff said. “The results and the impact that have come from these initiatives have become part of the fabric and culture of Purdue – as was intended. As trustees, we have watched with great pride this path of innovation, achievement and growth. We watched you achieve and surpass the expectations that were set out for you. As these moves continue, we now choose Purdue’s Next Moves to leverage our strengths and move our students, the university and the world toward a safer, more sustainable and equitable future.”

The original Purdue Moves – launched in fall 2013 – have served as the university’s strategic plan, comprising five pillars:

  • Affordability and Accessibility.
  • World-Changing Research.
  • STEM Leadership.
  • Transformative Education.
  • Online Education.

The results have been significant: The West Lafayette campus is seeing record applications and enrollment, including in Fall 2020 semester the largest incoming class in Purdue’s history; Purdue’s engineering school has seen its rankings rise to No. 4 in national graduate school rankings, and is the largest top 10 undergraduate engineering program in the U.S.; Purdue has doubled the number of study abroad participants and expects that number to continue to climb once international travel is again possible; the university has seen a dramatic increase in on-campus residential living; more than 38,000 students are enrolled in Purdue’s online offerings, including over 300 Purdue employees who have earned free degrees from Purdue Global; and Purdue is now the most affordable institution in the Big Ten, with the cost of attendance lower than it was in 2012-13. Investments in Purdue Moves since 2013 have totaled $482 million.

All expectations, Berghoff said, are that Purdue’s Next Moves will be equally successful.

Here is a synopsis of each of Purdue’s Next Moves, based on Friday’s presentations to trustees:

Plant Sciences 2.0

Purdue possesses the unique expertise and innovative technologies to develop plants with enhanced nutritional and sustainability attributes. These same tools will enable us to manage forests, mitigate wildfires and diseases. By investing in plant sciences, Purdue will be known for growing graduates, entrepreneurs and the ag-biotech industry to ensure a future where the environment and agriculture work hand-in-hand to both feed the world’s population and strengthen our ecosystems.

Key investments will include:

  • Digital forestry.
  • Phenotyping facilities and data scientists.
  • The center for food demand analysis and sustainability.
  • Commercialization through Ag-Celerator and an Impact Fund.

In the years to come, Purdue will be known as the global leader in producing graduates with the discipline expertise, data science skills and entrepreneurial training desired by industry; designing, producing and delivering plants with added value that address nutritional concerns and food insecurity; evaluating and managing forests, preventing forest fires and tracking spread of invasive pests in forests; and attracting companies to partner, invest and/or locate in the Discovery Park District.

More information about Plant Sciences is available here.

National Security and Technology Initiative

U.S. leadership in advanced technology capabilities relative to its strategic rivals is narrowing, and swift action must be taken to reverse this trend to ensure long-term national security and economic competitiveness. Through the National Security and Technology Initiative, Purdue will work to address some of the greatest technology challenges facing the U.S. in four strategic areas:

  • Hypersonic and space vehicles.
  • Energetic materials and systems.
  • Cybersecurity.
  • Secure microelectronics.

With this initiative Purdue intends to lead national centers of excellence with cross-sector participation; deliver new, one-of-a-kind research and test facilities that are national assets and further differentiate Purdue as a leader; become a magnet for diverse and exceptional talent committed to supporting national security and technology research and education; narrow the talent gap by graduating students with national security and technology experience and security clearances; and enhance the regional ecosystem in these areas by adding new companies, federal labs and startups to the Discovery Park District.

Purdue Applied Research Institute (PARI)

Purdue has a significant opportunity to leverage its deep strengths in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to play an even larger role in the development and adoption of emerging technologies that are changing the world.

Though otherwise well positioned, Purdue has limited capacity to compete effectively for applied research funding and large-scale projects from federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, USAID, the Department of Homeland Security, and others because of lack of infrastructure and personnel to support these programs.

Through the Purdue Applied Research Institute (PARI), Purdue will reach its full potential to support a large and complex portfolio of applied and translational research programs with national and global impact. It will provide the advanced facilities and infrastructure to support of mission critical efforts of federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, USAID, as well as industry and nongovernmental organizations; will enable Purdue to recruit and retain professionals with deep experience in these fields; will provide new opportunities for faculty and students to participate in applied research; and will advance new vital partnerships and relationships.

PARI will initially focus on three strategic areas:

  • Digital Innovation in Agri-Food Systems.
  • National Security and Technology.
  • Global Development and Innovation. 

Transformative Education 2.0

Higher education is at an inflection point with respect to how data analytics, experiential education, and advanced technologies are expanding and redefining our concepts of a classroom, course modality, content delivery, learner engagement, and student success. Transformative Education 2.0 will seek to make Purdue the most innovative residential learning program in the U.S. among large research universities through:

* Deep investment in high touch experiential learning, such as enhanced internships and cooperative experiences, undergraduate research, and active learning.

* Creative use of advanced technologies and online learning to enhance residential courses and improve student success (i.e., time to degree and graduation rate).

* Flexible cross-disciplinary degree and credential options.

* Integrated student life experiences and multiple work/learn options for paths to graduation.

* A data-driven ecosystem that improves retention, progression, graduation and satisfaction.

More information about Transformative Education 2.0 is available here.

Equity Task Force

With a goal to increase the number of Black Boilermakers on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, to enhance the quality of their time at Purdue, and to support the success they enjoy as faculty, staff, students and alumni, Purdue will enact a comprehensive set of initiatives and action plans around representation, experience and success. Purdue will work to ensure that all members of the university community have the opportunity to experience all Purdue has to offer – prioritizing the experience of Black Boilermakers over the next five years through this initiative. Specific programs, to be led by the Office of the Provost and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion with a campuswide implementation team, will include:

  • Robust recruitment of Black undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff through new programs, scholarships and cluster hires.
  • New and expanded mentoring and community-building initiatives for Black students, faculty and staff.
  • Enhanced career development opportunities and professional recognition for Black students, faculty and staff.
  • Purdue’s becoming a leader in attracting and ensuring the success of Black scholars, ultimately enhancing the lives of the entire Purdue community and beyond.

Over the next weeks, Purdue will roll out additional details about each of the Next Moves, including goals, metrics and action items.

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