With finals week drawing to a close and December Commencement this weekend, it won’t be long before winter recess is here – and I’m sure it will be a welcomed break. You certainly have earned it.
My message as we close the year is a simple one: Thank you. Our Fall 2021 semester may well be remembered as the “Reentry Semester” – as we fully reopened Purdue and welcomed to campus the largest class of new beginners in our history.
Many of you had to pivot back from fully online and hybrid courses to face-to-face instruction again. While this presented challenges and required much hard work, we have heard repeatedly from students how glad they were to be “back in class.”
Every unit across campus has had to step up to help support the nearly 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students who now call Purdue home. Our remarkable Student Life staff somehow found rooms for hundreds of unanticipated students. New teaching spaces (including a church!) were brought into service and additional faculty and staff joined us to deliver the exceptional residential learning experience that students have come to expect from our University. I have said it before (more than once) but it bears repeating: There is no stronger testament to the faculty and staff of Purdue than the record number of students who have chosen to study here.
On top of everything involved in meeting our teaching responsibilities, we moved important long-term initiatives forward including Transformative Education 2.0, the Equity Task Force, and the Future of Work project. And I know Theresa Mayer, executive vice president for research and partnerships, could add pages of research accomplishments, as could Steve Abel, associate provost for engagement….
You have helped us return to something far closer to “normal,” while continuing to follow the Protect Purdue guidance to keep our campus safe and open. I can’t thank you enough.
At the December meeting of the Board of Trustees, President Daniels reported on Purdue’s institutional reputation. He laid out more than a dozen different types of rankings, metrics, and signals of national prominence. It was an impressive story that one of our Trustees summarized well when he said, “Purdue’s national reputation has never been more prominent.”
Over the winter break, I hope you will take some time to proudly reflect on what you and your colleagues have accomplished – how you have contributed in a substantial way to a most difficult, but ultimately most successful, year. It has taken extraordinary effort, a tremendous amount of fortitude, and a great deal of hope, but through the deadliest pandemic this world has seen in 100 years and the largest student population this campus has ever seen ... because of all of you ... discovery, learning, and engagement continue at the highest levels, the Purdue mission endures, and in true Boilermaker fashion, we will begin 2022 with a full head of steam.
I wish you, your families and friends a peaceful, enjoyable, and relaxing holiday season.
All the best,
PS: I can’t think of a better sendoff than watching our students sing the “Boilermaker Carol” ... enjoy.