Message from President Daniels

October 2017

Alumni and Friends,

Few happenings on a college campus can match the excitement and atmosphere of Homecoming weekend, and this year’s edition at Purdue was one of our most eventful ever. I hope many of you were among the thousands who joined us for building dedications, alumni dinners, tailgating and, of course, the sold-out football game in our newly lighted Ross-Ade Stadium.

Among the highlights of the weekend:

Washington Crossing the Delaware painting unveiled

We officially dedicated the Wilmeth Active Learning Center. This “21st Century library” features an innovative approach to classroom design and teaching that exemplifies Purdue’s commitment to transforming education and giving our students the best chance to learn and succeed. Already, the building has hosted hundreds of classes for thousands of Purdue students and several speakers and events.

In fact, our first Presidential Lecture Series event of the fall semester opened the building’s Reading Room, now named for retiring Dean of Libraries James Mullins. After an illuminating lecture from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joseph Ellis, we unveiled the magnificent painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” in its new location. Several members of the family of Anne Hawkes Hutton, who commissioned the painting in memory of her late husband, Leon John Hutton, a 1929 graduate of the Purdue College of Science, joined us and one of them, Julia Weeder, a Purdue biochemistry major, helped us unveil the painting. Julia is the great-granddaughter of Anne Hawkes Hutton, and we were thrilled to have her and her family with us for the momentous event.

Bechtel Center dedication

We also celebrated the opening of the $18.5 million Bechtel Innovation Design Center, where student, staff and faculty innovators can advance conceptual designs, execute capstone projects, build prototypes and conduct product testing with teams across multiple disciplines. The building, at the corner of Third and Russell streets, will be available 24/7 for Purdue innovators. It is the latest enhancement to what we believe is now one of the world’s finest “entrepreneurial ecosystems.”

Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories at Purdue has long been known around the world for advanced research in combustion, next-generation jet engines, rocket engines and propellants. During Homecoming weekend, we dedicated an $8.2 million expansion of the lab, which is jointly operated by the School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 

Honor Tracks DedicationOur students continue their own efforts to reinforce a culture of learning and character at Purdue. With the dedication of Honor Tracks, the Iron Key organization highlighted the new student honor pledge adopted last year. The new pledge, a student-led project that focuses on academic integrity, is now integrated into our admissions processes, Boiler Gold Rush orientation programs, STAR sessions for incoming students and their parents, and as part of standard first-year courses such as COMM 114. Honor Tracks, near Haas Hall, is a 40-foot granite railroad track with ties on which are written key words from the new pledge: “As a Boilermaker pursuing academic excellence, I pledge to be honest and true in all that I do. Accountable together – We are Purdue.”

More research success

As presaged in last month’s issue, I’m now able to tell you about another great research success — the announcement in mid-September that Purdue will lead a prestigious NSF Engineering Research Center, one of only 19 in the country. The center, to be housed in Discovery Park, was launched with $19.5 million in funding from the National Science Foundation and is the first ERC on which Purdue is the lead university since 1985. Fabio Ribeiro, Purdue’s R. Norris and Eleanor Shreve Professor of Chemical Engineering, heads the center, which will seek to develop new technologies to produce fuels from U.S. shale-gas deposits. Congratulations are in order for Professor Ribeiro and his team of scientists at Purdue.

Introducing new deans

Over the summer months, we welcomed three new deans — two new to campus and one new to his role.

Over the next months, I will highlight the successes we are seeing as these brilliant leaders move their colleges forward in important research, teaching and engagement initiatives.

New chancellor at Fort Wayne

Ronald EisenbaumerI'm pleased also to introduce you to Ronald Elsenbaumer, who on Nov. 1 will become chancellor of Purdue’s campus in Fort Wayne. Ron is a Purdue alumnus and currently serves as special advisor to the president at the University of Texas at Arlington. He takes the helm from Vicky Carwein, who has served as chancellor since 2012 and who, through a complex fiscal environment, has helped shape the campus into a more efficient and effective organization. Ron brings an exceptional blend of academic and industry experience, which he’ll need as he prepares to lead the campus at a pivotal moment in its history, transitioning over the next months from shared governance between Purdue and Indiana to a fully Purdue-governed Purdue Fort Wayne.

A top public university

For those who might have missed the news, we learned in late September that The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education once again has listed Purdue among the top public institutions in the country. We are No. 5 based on a ranking that we think celebrates what should be important in higher education: outcomes and value. Importantly, the ranking pointed out that Purdue tied with the University of Michigan and William & Mary for the best student-faculty ratio among public universities, with a ratio of 12:1. A big thank you goes out to all of our alumni for their excellence and to our faculty for their commitment to provide higher education at the highest proven value. 

Remembering Joe Tiller

Honor Tracks DedicationI would be remiss if I didn’t mention Joe Tiller, Purdue’s winningest football coach, who died Sept. 30 at the age of 74. As I said when I heard the sad news, the next time we go to the Rose Bowl, our first thoughts will be of Joe, and we will miss him every day in between. Our hearts go out to Coach Tiller’s family and all in Boilermaker land who knew and loved him.

I look forward to sharing more news next month. As always, thank you for your continued support of your university. 


Mitch Daniels

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

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