May 14, 2023

Small steps to giant leaps: Purdue celebrates 2023 graduates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University wrapped up an annual spring rite Sunday (May 14) with the last of nine commencement ceremonies that took place throughout the weekend. All ceremonies were in Elliott Hall of Music on Purdue’s campus. 

Purdue’s 2023 spring class had 9,776 candidates eligible for graduation. The list includes 7,398 undergraduates, 1,750 master's candidates, 390 doctoral candidates and 238 professional degree-seekers.

Mung Chiang, who in January became Purdue’s 13th president, addressed graduates for the first time at this year’s spring ceremonies. 

Kathleen Howell, Purdue’s Hsu Lo Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, provided the keynote for the graduate student ceremony at 7 p.m. Sunday (May 14). Howell has received national and international acclaim for her work in orbit mechanics, spacecraft dynamics and trajectory optimization. She has contributed to the success of multiple NASA missions, including Genesis, Artemis and Cassini, and was recognized with the Morrill Award in 2019, Purdue’s highest faculty honor.

graduate celebrates A new graduate shows the joy of joining the ranks of Purdue alumni. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood) Download image

The ceremonies were livestreamed from the Purdue News YouTube channel and linked on the Purdue commencement website before each ceremony begins. 

Honorary doctorates

David Ricks, chair and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company, received his honorary from the College of Pharmacy and the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business.

A Lilly veteran for more than 25 years, with experience in marketing, sales, drug development and international operations, Ricks became CEO in January 2017 and was elected chair of the company’s board of directors effective June 2017.

Ricks served as president of Lilly Bio-Medicines from 2012 through 2016. He led the company’s largest affiliate, Lilly USA, as president from 2009 to 2012.

Prior to that, Ricks served in international leadership roles for nearly eight years. He served as president and general manager of Lilly China, operating in one of the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets, from 2008 to 2009. He led Lilly Canada as general manager from 2005 to 2008, after roles as director of pharmaceutical marketing and national sales director in that country. Ricks joined Lilly in 1996 as a business development associate and held several management roles in U.S. marketing and sales before moving to Lilly Canada.

Ricks earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in industrial management in 1990 and an MBA from Indiana University in 1996.

Ricks serves on the board of directors for Adobe and Business Roundtable. He is also a board member and past chair of the board of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Ricks is a member of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Association’s CEO Steering Committee, The Business Council and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Council for Inclusive Innovation.

Thomas Shelby, executive vice president of Peter Kiewit and Sons’ Inc. and president of Kiewit Energy Group, received an honorary doctorate from Purdue Polytechnic Institute during the Division VI ceremony.

During Shelby’s tenure as president and board member of Kiewit Energy, the company has expanded its engineering and energy business from less than $100 million in 1991 to over $6 billion today. He led initiatives to open Kiewit Energy offices in Canada and Mexico and form engineering hubs in North America, growing the company’s engineering capabilities from 100 employees in 2000 to almost 3,000 employees. Kiewit is the third largest engineering and construction company in North America, designing and building $13 billion of work annually and employing more than 40,000 people.

Shelby is a member of the National Academy of Construction, an honorary group of engineering and construction industry leaders. He is a member of the Purdue Polytechnic Advisory Council and a past Purdue Distinguished Alumni. Shelby earned a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Purdue in 1981 and his Master of Science and MBA from Arizona State University in 1989.

Student responders at each ceremony

Each undergraduate division feature a student responder:

  • Courtney Rodkey of Frankfort, Indiana, who received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Agriculture, was the student responder in the Friday morning (Division I) ceremony.
  • Shreya Misra of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, who received a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, was the student responder in the Friday afternoon (Division II) ceremony.
  • Sihun Kim of Springfield, Virginia, who received a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was the student responder in the Friday evening (Division III) ceremony.
  • Allison Ellis of Fishers, Indiana, who ireceived a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Health and Human Sciences, was the student responder in the Saturday morning (Division IV) ceremony.
  • Frances Ann Fu O’Leary of Claremont, California, who received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Science, was the student responder in the Saturday afternoon (Division V) ceremony.
  • Chase Triplett of Michigan City, Indiana, who received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, was the student responder in the Saturday evening (Division VI) ceremony.
  • Kathleen Massa of Darien, Illinois, who received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Pharmacy, was the student responder in the Sunday morning (Division VII) ceremony.
  • Anyssa Mujica of McAllen, Texas, who received a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Management, was the student responder in the Sunday afternoon (Division VIII) ceremony.

Top student awards

Purdue’s Flora Roberts and G.A. Ross awards are the university’s most prestigious honors for two outstanding seniors.

Lara B. Chuppe of South Bend, Indiana, is the winner of the 2023 G.A. Ross Award. Chuppe graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the College of Science. She has had several leadership roles in Global House, a learning community in the John Martinson Honors College and has been recognized with Pillar Awards for community and global engagement in 2021 and 2022. Chuppe has been involved in College Mentors for Kids, Global Science Partners, English Language Learners In-Home Program and several volunteer tutoring programs. Chuppe also completed a summer internship with Advocates for Human Rights, where she worked directly on U.S. immigration policies for Afghan evacuees.

Frances Ann Fu O’Leary of Claremont, California, is the winner of the 2023 Flora Roberts Award. O’Leary graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and mathematics from the College of Science. She has been a part of a U.S. Army-sponsored research group to build a self-correcting 3D printer and served as information technology lead on the Purdue Space Program High Altitude subteam. O’Leary has held internships with SpaceX and Microsoft and served as an officer in several organizations, including the Purdue 3D Printing Club, Computer Science Women’s Network and Purdue Space Program. O’Leary has also served as a teaching assistant and has completed training to be a licensed pilot.

These awards are made possible through bequests from Flora Roberts, Purdue Class of 1887, and G.A. Ross, Purdue Class of 1916. Each recipient receives a $2,000 award and medallion and has their name permanently inscribed on the award marker on the Purdue Engineering Mall.

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

Writer/Media contact: Ellie Acra, 

Media contact: Jim Bush,

Note to journalists: Video b-roll and soundbites are available on Google Drive.

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