April 26, 2023

Purdue University receives $10 million commitment from alumni William and Barbara Rakosnik

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Alumni William (mechanical engineering ’69, MS industrial administration ’70) and Barbara (health and human sciences ’70) Rakosnik have committed more than $10 million to Purdue University in support of the School of Mechanical Engineering, the Department of Psychological Sciences and University Residences. The commitment will support graduate students and necessary services and programs in these areas.

The commitment includes $125,000 to establish endowments and a $10 million trust fund that will provide continued support.

“This generous gift from the Rakosniks is very important because it touches on several areas and focuses on students and their everyday experiences,” said Purdue President Mung Chiang. “Anybody who has been on a college campus knows that it’s the students, including graduate students, who bring a university to life. The impact of this gift will be felt by many of our students for decades to come.”

The initial pledge will be distributed as follows:

  • $50,000 to establish the William H. and Barbara L. Rakosnik Graduate Student Support Fund in Mechanical Engineering
  • $50,000 to establish the William H. and Barbara L. Rakosnik Graduate Student Support Fund in Psychology
  • $25,000 to establish the Bill and Barbara Rakosnik Legacy Experience Fund in University Residences

Regular trust income and eventual trust distribution will proceed along similar lines:

  • 40% to the support fund in mechanical engineering
  • 40% to the support fund in psychology
  • 20% to the Legacy Experience Fund

Both graduate school support funds will provide recipients primarily with scholarship, fellowship and assistantship support; research funding and expenses for conferences; and other experiential learning opportunities. The purpose of the Legacy Experience Fund is to allow flexibility to support areas of strategic importance as determined by the director of University Residences.

“Outstanding faculty and a world-class education will always draw students to Purdue, but it’s the amazing young people you interact with that make life at the university so exceptional,” William Rakosnik said. “What we’re talking about is the undergraduate and graduate students you work with and learn from on a daily basis. All of this contributes to the development of a well-rounded student. We want to make sure this tradition continues — and we hope other alumni look back at their time on campus, remember how formative those years were and provide their own support.”

Longtime university benefactors, the Rakosniks are members of the Student Life Advisory Council, the Griffin Society, President’s Council and the Purdue Alumni Association. Their past contributions include support for academic scholarships, Purdue Musical Organizations, Purdue Bands & Orchestras, and Student Life.

The Rakosniks are now retired. William Rakosnik worked for more than 30 years in production control and distribution management at IBM. Barbara Rakosnik worked in architecture and later started her own embroidery business, Periwinkle Promises. They remain active as volunteers in their community.

“Bill and I really enjoyed living the whole campus experience,” Barbara Rakosnik said. “We were both resident assistants who were active in student organizations, and I worked on the yearbook. After a very brief encounter on campus, a few phone calls and four years of dating, we were married at the University Lutheran Church, right on campus. So, to say we have fond memories doesn’t even begin to cover it. When we give back, we have the whole student in mind. We feel strongly that every Purdue student deserves the opportunity to grow and blossom.”

Matt Folk, president and CEO of the Purdue for Life Foundation and vice president for university advancement and alumni engagement at Purdue, said, “This gift from the Rakosniks really sets the tone in a very Purdue way — quietly, behind the scenes, they’re making a lasting difference. And they keep giving back to the school they love, with purpose and the utmost generosity.”

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last five years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu.

About the Purdue for Life Foundation

The Purdue for Life Foundation helps friends and alumni of Purdue University stay connected, get involved and give back. Created on March 11, 2020, the foundation deepens alumni ties to Purdue, drives and coordinates all alumni-related activities across the Purdue family’s postgraduation lives and works with alumni and friends to garner support for the university. Our organization combines the alumni engagement function of the Purdue Alumni Association and the University Development Office, and it includes President’s Council, the John Purdue Club and the Office of Industry Partnerships, as well as alumni lifelong learning programs and on-campus residential opportunities. Learn more at https://purdueforlife.org/. 

Writer: Aaron Martin

Media contact: Derek Schultz, dcschultz@purdue.edu

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