Second Presidential Letter to Purdue Community
April 27, 2023
Dear Purdue community,
Yesterday during the 2023 Purdue Day of Giving, along with students, colleagues and alumni, I participated in the relay run around our West Lafayette campus in its full spring bloom. That, along with previewing an undergraduate course, was the most fitting “investiture ceremony” I could imagine for a new president in the humble service of Purdue University.
Thank you all for your extraordinary support that made this Purdue Day of Giving a truly historic one, with milestone results of $110.8 million that shattered our single-day fundraising record by a margin even larger than we ever anticipated. Just like other gifts such as the $50M White Family Foundation gift earlier this year and the Av Gray gift of the collection of Degas’ sculptures, each gift has a target use and recipients as specified by the donor, and they collectively amplify opportunities at our university. We also deeply appreciate the General Assembly of our state announcing yesterday a biennium budget with generous appropriations to multiple Purdue campuses that met almost all of our requests for the benefit of our students and state.
And thank you for your input during my listening tours, from all the cultural centers and Greek life organizations to dining courts and athletic fields, from our partners throughout Indiana to alumni from Houston to Tokyo, from California to Florida. Your work each day is a gift that keeps on giving to Purdue. And we committed to skip formal investiture ceremonies and get right to work.
Demonstrating excellence at scale, Purdue creates, disseminates and deploys knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none in the U.S. With a diverse population, we continue to grow bigger and better at the same time. Across all the leading American research universities, Purdue has the largest undergraduate STEM enrollment today. With 72,000 undergraduate applicants to West Lafayette this year, we will be welcoming the most selective class of students in decades. And more students will benefit from the 12th straight year of tuition freeze, as the Board of Trustees endorsed in February this year, while our patents-received, online learning, and the entire colleges of Agriculture and Engineering all advanced to be among the top 5 in the country. In the 2023 list of the top 50 most innovative companies and nonprofits in the world, Purdue is the only university included, ranked in between OpenAI and NASA.
First week in January, we created the Action Council on Student Housing and Well-being. Since then, a new student housing project has been approved by the Board of Trustees, with close to 1,000 beds, and a second one under study; additional staffing resources have been added to Counseling and Psychological Services; the minimum stipend for PhD students has been raised; and 150 new Presidential Doctoral Excellence Awards per year are being provided. We are also excited to open Dudley Hall and Lambertus Hall as the largest academic complex on campus, along with the Klipsch Student Success Crossroads in the ongoing renovation of Stewart Center.
In January and again in March, we announced additional support to faculty productivity and scholarly excellence. From a 25% increase in Sponsored Program Services staff and purchase of a time-saving electronic research administration system to a dedicated office to nominate faculty for major national awards, we are open to ideas of agility and incentivization, with the goal of saving time for professors each day to focus on their teaching, research and engagement.
In addition to continuation of the Purdue’s Next Moves, three key initiatives have been launched this academic year:
- Last semester, Purdue and IU announced the intent to have separate and independent presences in Indianapolis by each university. Our team continues to prepare for Purdue University in Indianapolis, Purdue’s first urban campus that will offer unique opportunities ranging from co-op and startups to sports and health care research, and, indeed, any current or future West Lafayette programs too. Purdue will consequently bookend the “Hard Tech Corridor” of the Midwest: from downtown Indianapolis through the Lebanon LEAP district to Discovery Park District in West Lafayette, where tech companies continue to arrive this year. Innovating how our state grows things, makes things and moves things, this corridor will be pillared by ag tech and pharmaceutical manufacturing, by aerospace and transportation, by microelectronics and more.
- In February, we launched the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business (DSB), in honor of Mitch and the Daniels Decade. Anchored in our unique strength, DSB will leapfrog to be a top business school in the country in educating many business leaders for a tech-driven, free-market economy. From undergraduate programs such as business analytics to graduate, online and executive education programs, DSB will recruit the best faculty and students.
- In April, Purdue Computes was unveiled with three components: (1) expand the capacity for top-ranked computing departments in light of significant growth in student demand, (2) initiate the university-wide Institute of Physical AI, in which Purdue will lead at the intersection between the physical and the virtual, where the atoms meet the bytes, and (3) take Purdue’s national leadership in semiconductors education, research and partnership “from great to greatest.”
Over the past several months, we have also been creating synergies across campus for all students, residential and online. Built on the recent successes of Purdue intellectual properties and startups, Purdue Innovates was launched last week to streamline and strengthen support to the inventors and entrepreneurs among our students, faculty and alumni, ranging from new venture funds to a homecoming celebration of entrepreneurial alumni this fall. We have also brought Purdue Global and Purdue University Online closer together, with the goal of significant growth with quality and innovation in Purdue’s Online Learning 2.0.
Purdue continues to serve our state and our country in the most consequential way. As a public land-grant institution, we generate talents, knowledge and jobs to elevate the future of our state. As I resume my visits across Indiana’s 92 counties, a key focus will be on broadband access as an essential catalyst for economic growth throughout the state. Tomorrow we will officially open Purdue’s office in Washington, D.C., where we bring to the capital unique Boilermaker strengths in tech diplomacy, national security, civic engagement, small modular reactor for sustainability, and CHIPS and Science Act execution. When Purdue co-convened the CHIPS Summit in the Russell Senate Office Building earlier this month, with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and U.S. Senator Young as keynotes, 175 companies and agencies from 23 states participated.
Back here at home, we are proud to be part of Greater Lafayette. As highlighted at the community cookout last evening, together with our neighbors and families, we will work on enhancing child care, health care and quality of life for the community we call home.
Ever grateful, ever true.
Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering