June 10, 2024

Department of Chemistry renamed in honor of longtime donors James and Margaret Tarpo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A history of giving by James (BS chemistry ’59) and Margaret Tarpo that spans decades and surpasses $23 million has led Purdue University to rename the Department of Chemistry in their honor. The department will now be called the James Tarpo Jr. and Margaret Tarpo Department of Chemistry.

“We are humbled by Purdue’s decision to honor us in this way,” James Tarpo said. “We are always happy to give back to Purdue, which has been so instrumental in our lives. Purdue was already one of the finest universities in the country when I was a student, and it has only gotten better since then. We are proud to support the Department of Chemistry and the university, and we’re extremely excited about the direction Purdue is headed.” 

The Tarpos have supported Purdue, the College of Science and the Department of Chemistry in many ways over the years. This includes major contributions that:

  • Established the Tarpo Family Foundation Scholarship in Science
  • Supported the Science Dean’s Innovation Fund
  • Helped build both a STEM teaching laboratory and a data science facility within the College of Science’s evolving campus footprint
  • Sponsored refurbishment of the Purdue Interdepartmental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility with critical equipment 

“This is a transformative moment for the College of Science and Department of Chemistry,” said Lucy Flesch, Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science. “The visionary generosity of James and Margaret Tarpo embodies a pinnacle of excellence in philanthropy, one that will resonate across our academic community for years to come. We are immensely grateful for their commitment to advancing scientific education and research, and we look forward to the profound impact their support will have on our students, our faculty and the broader scientific community.” 

Most recently, the Tarpos contributed $10 million during the 2024 Purdue Day of Giving to establish the James Tarpo Jr. and Margaret Tarpo Endowment for Chemistry Excellence. The purpose of the endowment is to assist in the advancement of the department by allowing leadership to support areas of strategic importance.

“This generous donation will fuel the department’s mission to push the boundaries of chemical education and innovation, driving transformative impact in our fields and beyond,” said Jianguo Mei, incoming head of the Department of Chemistry and Richard and Judith Wien Professor of Chemistry. “With their kind support, we are poised to achieve new heights of excellence in chemistry. This gift will empower us to advance innovative initiatives, nurture top-tier talents and continue our journey as a leader in chemical breakthroughs that will shape the future of our society.”

The couple has also contributed to numerous university initiatives, including the Protect Purdue safe-campus initiative and other presidential priorities.

“James and Margaret Tarpo have been loyal Boilermakers and dedicated partners for a long time, so we are very pleased to celebrate them,” Purdue President Mung Chiang said. “Their generosity and commitment to science education have not only had a major impact in the College of Science — they have touched the lives of countless Purdue students.” 

Matt Folk, president and CEO of the Purdue for Life Foundation, said, “From supporting the university where it matters most to buying in on Purdue Day of Giving, the Tarpos show again and again how much they love Purdue. By giving throughout their lifetime, and to a variety of initiatives, they also set a great example of how you can make giant leaps happen for generations of Boilermakers across many areas.”

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution demonstrating excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top four in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, including nearly 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 13 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap — including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, Purdue Computes and the One Health initiative — at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives.

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: Tim Doty, doty2@purdue.edu

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