September 2016 Alumni Message from President Daniels

September 2016

Dear Alumni and Friends,

I love every month on the Purdue campus, but it’s hard to beat September.

A new academic year has just begun, and campus is once again filled with the energy and promise each new year brings.

We were thrilled to welcome our largest freshman class in recent history, roughly 500 students larger than last fall. The 7,243 new freshmen include more Hoosiers than recent years and a record number of students from minority backgrounds, up about 17% from last year’s class. By design, we reduced the number of international students in the freshman class by about 10%, but we are very pleased that they will be a diverse group in terms of country of origin, adding to our global and dynamic student body. 

Hoosier Enrollment Increase

The English language abilities of our international students, measured in part through the TOEFL test, continue to rise. Their average TOEFL scores are up 5 points over the last three years, and the number who score less than 100 out of 120 is down from 77% in 2013 to slightly less than half this year. 

Rising TOEFL scores

And although the freshman class is 1,000 students larger than 2013, their academic profile is much higher, reaching a record high this year. Their good grades in high school, excellent test scores and strong record of involvement in causes they care about give us every reason to expect great things from them as they begin their studies at Purdue.

Many students and their families cite our commitment to affordability among their top reasons for choosing Purdue, and just last month, Forbes Magazine placed Purdue among the top 10 undervalued ‘buys’ for families investing in higher education.

Tuition is still holding steady at 2012-13 levels through at least the 2017-18 school year. Since 2012, the amount of debt held by Purdue graduates is down 30%, leaving students and their families an estimated $55 million to invest in other dreams.  

Attendance Costs Declining

Our Amazon@Purdue collaboration continues to produce positive results, helping students save money on textbooks and supplies, the third-highest college expense behind tuition and room and board.

Textbook sales through for the first week of the semester increased by 16% over last year, with more than 29,000 books purchased at an average price 29% below those in conventional bookstores.  Textbook rentals, which are often a cheaper option than buying, are the big story, representing 30% of textbook acquisitions compared to only 12% last year. 

Earlier this month, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on our innovative partnership with Amazon, the company’s first physical pick-up locations of any kind anywhere.  The idea seems to be catching on, with new partnerships now underway at Berkeley, Amherst, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas at Austin, among others.

New Athletic Director Mike Bobinski

We recently announced Purdue’s next Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Mike Bobinski.

He comes to us from Georgia Tech, and brings with him a long and impressive track record of building winning athletics programs at a variety of academically strong and athletically competitive institutions. I hope you’ll take some time to read more about Mike’s impressive background here, and that you’ll show him a true Boilermaker welcome as he settles in.

Morgan Burke has accomplished a great deal and earned national admiration in his 23 years with Purdue Athletics, and we’re fortunate he’s sticking around through this calendar year to help Mike settle in.

Changing Campus Landscape

It seems no fall semester passes without dedicating a building or two, and this one was no exception. In August, the Honors College and Residences complex welcomed its first cohort of student residents. The 800-bed facility also houses dedicated academic space and a retail restaurant, further bridging the gap between living and learning spaces for our students.

We also dedicated the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center last month. As the first field phenotyping facility of its type in the nation, this facility will allow greater research in support of our commitment to advance plant science research at Purdue. 

Campus Events

This fall’s campus calendar continues to be especially full.

The third annual Dawn or Doom technology conference, a free campus symposium examining whether technological advances are happening faster than humans can keep up, will take place October 3 and 4 featuring best-selling author Dave Eggers; Homecoming is October 15 vs. Iowa; and author Ron Chernow, whose book “Alexander Hamilton” inspired the Broadway hit, will be on campus November 15, among many others.

I hope you’ll consider joining us for one of these exciting events.

Questions from Alumni

This is your chance to have your questions about what’s happening at your University answered directly. Send me your questions for a future letter at

1. “We live out-of-state, and I would love for my daughter to attend Purdue. However, I’m worried that paying out-of-state tuition doesn’t make financial sense for our family. How can I be sure an investment in her education at Purdue will pay off in the end?”

I certainly understand the care with which families must make this important decision, and it’s the main reason we have committed to making sure Purdue continues to be a high-value investment for all students.

Though we are not the only school to freeze tuition, I am aware of no other institution that has done so for both in-state and out-of state students.  We also are expanding our scholarship funds and addressing the other biggest costs for students, room and board, and books.  As a result of these measures, the total cost of attending Purdue has gone down every year since 2013, for the first time on record.

Our students also consistently get great jobs at some of the finest organizations in the world after graduation.

We’re working hard to make sure that the time students spend at Purdue pays off in the form of great jobs and great lives after graduation.

2. “As a land-grant university, what is Purdue doing to prioritize educating Indiana students?”

An important aspect of our land-grant mission is to educate the citizens of our state, and we take that assignment seriously. Although the proportion of Hoosier students at Purdue did shrink somewhat in recent decades, we have committed to reshaping the student body one class at a time to include more qualified Hoosiers.

This year’s freshman class will include more Hoosiers than any class since 2009. Among the nearly 9,000 Hoosiers who completed their application to Purdue this year, roughly 94% were offered admission to the Purdue system.  Only those who clearly need additional work to prepare for four-year college-level work were not offered a place on at least one of our campuses, and 79% who applied to the West Lafayette campus were admitted here. It is significantly easier for Hoosiers to get into Purdue than their out-of-state or international counterparts. 

Faculty Distinctions

Our faculty are routinely honored for their excellent work in the classroom, community and research lab. Here are a few who have been recognized recently:

Faculty awards and recognition

Jianguo Mei and


2016 Office of Naval Research Young Investigators; U.S. Navy

Volkan Ortalan

Materials Engineering

2016 Office of Naval Research Young Investigators; U.S. Navy

Gerry McCartney

Information Technology

Chief Technology Officer of the Year (category: not-for-profit/government); Indianapolis Business Journal and Techpoint

Karen Foli


2016 Fellow, American Academy of Nursing

Your loyalty and support are an important part of what makes Purdue a great place, and we’re fortunate to count you among the Boilermaker family. 


Mitch Daniels

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

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