A Message from Jay

Dear faculty and staff colleagues,

August always brings heightened energy to the campus with the return of our students, and this is certainly one of my favorite times of the year. For the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the campus from a new perspective as interim provost and chief diversity officer. After more than nine years as dean, it does feel a little odd to be away from the College of Agriculture at the start of a semester, but I appreciate the opportunity to serve Purdue in this new, interim capacity.

“New perspectives” might be a good theme for this year as we welcome three new academic deans who started in July: Eric Barker as dean of the College of Pharmacy, Mung Chiang as dean of the College of Engineering, and Patrick Wolfe as dean of the College of Science. I’ve spent time with all three deans and each is already deeply involved in his new role.

Also in July, we welcomed Kris Wong Davis, vice provost for enrollment management, where her responsibilities range from leading our recruiting efforts and admissions to financial aid. We also announced Joan Fulton’s expanded responsibilities as provost fellow for diversity and inclusion. Joan is deeply dedicated to this position and I appreciate her continued service during this time of transition.

We have new leaders in interim appointments as well: Linda Mason is serving as interim dean of the Graduate School and Karen Plaut is serving as interim dean of the College of Agriculture while I serve as interim provost. You will hear soon about the formation of a search committee to identify candidates for the dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, where Chris Ladisch will step down on June 30, 2018. So, lots of transitions, and many new perspectives!

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking at Boiler Gold Rush International, where more than 700 new undergraduate students from more than 75 countries were welcomed to Purdue. The highlight of the evening for me was when every one of these international students and their families were cheered (with enthusiasm!) as they entered the Elliott Hall of Music by hundreds of BGR student leaders. A few days later at BGR’s New Student Induction, we officially welcomed more than 6,600 participating freshmen to our University — part of the most diverse class in Purdue history. Kudos to the 550 student leaders and to everyone in Student Success at Purdue and Student Life who make Boiler Gold Rush and related events so inspiring and impactful.

At the recent Board of Trustees meeting it was my privilege to recommend distinguished and named professorships from the colleges of Science, Health and Human Sciences, Engineering and Agriculture. Photos of these faculty members receiving their well-earned recognition are included below (albeit with some redundancy of the guy shaking their hands). The next time you see these individuals on campus, please stop and congratulate them.

Kipling D. Williams
Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences
Jayson L. Lusk
Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics
Julia Laskin
William F. and Patty J. Miller Professor of Chemistry
Seungjin Kim
Capt. James F. McCarthy, Jr. and Cheryl E. McCarthy Head of the School of Nuclear Engineering
Valerie S. Knopik
Ben and Maxine Miller Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Donna M. Riley
Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education

The Purdue and Lilly partnership was made even stronger with the announcement of a collaboration for life science research. This five-year agreement, where Lilly will provide up to $52 million, marks Purdue’s largest strategic collaboration with a single company. Purdue researchers from the natural and physical sciences, engineering and veterinary medicine will contribute to the interdisciplinary research with Lilly.

The just-opened Wilmeth Active Learning Center brings a new perspective on our teaching mission. The response to the WALC has been tremendous: with 38,000 square feet of study space and 59,000 square feet of classroom space, including 27 active learning classrooms, it has quickly become the hub of our campus, and the daily academic destination for 5,000 Purdue faculty, staff, and students. The dedication ceremony for the WALC will be at 3 p.m. Sept. 22. Dedication ceremonies will open two other important Purdue facilities in the coming weeks. On Sept. 22 we will dedicate the expansion of the College of Engineering’s Zucrow Labs (the nation’s largest university propulsion laboratory), and Bechtel Innovation Design Center will be dedicated Sept. 23 (a unique facility that was envisioned by and for students to promote creativity, teamwork, problem-solving, and management skills in engineering and technology).

The acquisition of Kaplan University offers a whole new perspective on higher education, allowing us to provide a Purdue education to working adults and others who are unlikely to come to a traditional campus. Frank Dooley, senior vice provost for teaching and learning, is leading the Purdue team that will oversee the coordination of academic functions with “NewU”. You’ll find an update on our progress with NewU in this month’s newsletter.

We also have a major project moving forward that will transform the way Purdue conducts many of the business processes we are familiar with. An update on the Transform Purdue initiative is presented in this newsletter. Of course, projects like State Street Redevelopment are transforming the physical campus in important ways — it’s exciting to think about the impact on our campus when that project is complete (yes, including improved traffic flow and less congestion).

Purdue is moving ahead in so many new and exciting ways — change is happening across our University as we work together to position Purdue for an even more exciting future. There is no doubt that change can feel uncomfortable. That said, I would encourage you to look at these changes with fresh eyes and an open mind, and to build your own new perspectives on our University. I’m excited about the weeks and months ahead and with your help, we will continue to support excellence in all we do at Purdue during this transition. It is an honor to serve as your interim provost.

All the best,

P.S.: Hurricane Harvey has certainly touched many of our Boilermaker family, friends and colleagues. My thanks to all of you who have reached out to offer and provide assistance and support to those directly affected at this most difficult time.

August 31, 2017

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