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By Mary Jane Chew

A Message from Jay

Dear Colleagues,

First, thank you to everyone who helped us take another giant leap by setting the fifth straight record on our Purdue Day of Giving with $41.6 million in funds raised. On this special day, contributions from Boilermaker family and friends represent an endorsement of our faculty and staff, and an investment in our students and our University. I’m grateful for the work of the University Development Office here and proud that we continue to raise the bar every year.

This is the time each year when we remember to celebrate special Purdue faculty, staff, and students and honor them for their achievements. Taking part in these celebrations is one of the great privileges of my job and my congratulations to all of you who have been or are being honored this year. In addition, I want to recognize each of you who has been engaged in developing nominations for these awards, serving on selection committees, planning recognition events, etc. — the selfless work you are doing to lift up others is deeply appreciated.

While we are recognizing accomplishments for the year passed, we are making deliberate investments of time, energy and funds to ensure that the excellence Boilermakers are known for continues far into the future. One example is the Teaching and Learning Excellence Initiative, a road map designed to ensure that our undergraduate students continue to experience high-impact learning in 2030 and beyond. The initiative began informally in a December 2017 conversation with Teaching Academy leadership, and it has been shaped by listening sessions with many faculty, staff and student groups since. I appreciated the engaged participation at our recent campus forums on the initiative and I’ve read through all of your feedback with much interest (all 23 pages!). You can find the road map as well as a summary of the listening session input on our website. Look for much more on this initiative in the fall.

We also foster excellence with seed fund investments in big ideas from faculty and staff that we hope will grow into something amazing. That’s exactly what started three years ago with New Horizons, a program from the Provost’s Office offering seed funding for bold, new ideas that could place Purdue in the vanguard of emerging disciplines. We funded a proposal focused on Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats (RETH) from a team that included Antonio Bobet, professor of civil engineering; Dan Dumbacher, professor of aeronautical and astronautical engineering; Shirley Dyke, professor of mechanical and civil engineering; Jay Melosh, Distinguished Professor, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; and Julio Ramirez, professor of civil engineering and center director of the Network Coordination Office for the National Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure.

Earlier this month, their groundbreaking work was rewarded when NASA announced that Shirley Dyke will be the principal investigator of a new Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats Institute (RETHi), in partnership with University of Connecticut, Harvard University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Many Purdue faculty will be involved with RETHi. The vision of the institute is to design and operate resilient deep space habitats that can adapt, absorb and rapidly recover from expected and unexpected disruptions to support extended stays on places like the moon or Mars. The institute will receive as much as $15 million over a five-year period from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. We think Neil Armstrong would be very proud of his Boilermaker family and the important work they are doing here.

Purdue’s Office of Engagement is promoting excellence and impact with the publication of “The Guide: Documenting, Evaluating and Recognizing Engaged Scholarship,” written by Steve Abel, associate provost for engagement, and Rod Williams, engagement faculty fellow and professor of forestry and natural resources. This much-needed publication answers questions about the scholarship of engagement and describes how it can be integrated into faculty work and promotion and tenure portfolios. Engagement is the distinguishing mission of a land-grant university, and I encourage more faculty to seek opportunities to fulfill our important mandate here. A copy of “The Guide” will be made available for download soon.

There are so many other examples of Purdue excellence I could highlight — John Gates, our new vice provost for diversity and inclusion is already making a difference as he gets to know our campus, programs and people. Our men’s basketball team demonstrated great heart and resilience as it won the Big Ten Championship and took Purdue to the Elite Eight for the first time in nearly two decades. The Buildings and Grounds staff is skillfully preparing green spaces and gardens as they completely transform our beautiful campus for the spring and summer months. The Ideas Festival has truly energized our campus this year and epitomizes excellence as world-renowned speakers come together with Purdue experts to discuss the most critical problems facing our world. And I’m sure you can think of dozens more ....

During this busy time of year, as we celebrate our achievements and success, please be sure to remember that the excellence we are known for takes the commitment of thousands of individuals. Thank you to each of you for making Purdue the extraordinary institution it is today — and for doing the work that will make us even better tomorrow ....

All the best,


April 2019

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