I hope the first half of your summer has been whatever you most desired after the past year – productive, energizing, relaxing, restorative, fun, all of the above! As always, this time of year moves quickly and there is much activity at our University.
We have another record enrollment for summer – almost 20,000 (19,913) undergraduate, professional and graduate students are taking classes/conducting research this summer – up about 4% from last year. Most of the undergraduate students are taking online classes, and with our COVID-19 restrictions on conferences and outside visitors, the physical campus is relatively quiet. That will begin to change in July when Summer Start and Early Start students arrive – at last count, about 1,000 new beginners will be starting with us in July, in addition to the 500 or so high school students who will be on campus for Summer College. Of course, we will continue various academic boot camps, as well. My thanks to all of our faculty and staff for providing such exceptional summer experiences for our students and a special shout out to John Gipson, director of Summer Session, and his team for all they do to support and promote summer study.
August and BGRi/BGR are just around the corner, so many of you are deep into planning and preparations for the fall. Our general philosophy as we approach fall is to be as “open” as possible, while continuing to protect the health of the Purdue community. Our Board of Trustees will be reviewing fall plans on July 7, so look for more COVID-19 announcements after that date. We will be holding a “Conversations” event in July on our fall health and safety planning and will announce the date and time shortly. In the meantime, we continue to encourage every member of the Purdue community (who does not have a medical or religious reason to decline) to get vaccinated and then let us know you have done so. The vaccine remains the single best action we can all take to protect our health and that of the broader Purdue community. More on the vaccine here, including information on the drawing for some nice prizes for those who provide their vaccinated status by Aug. 13.
As you’ve heard, we expect a record class of new beginners this fall and record overall undergraduate enrollment. When so many talented students choose Purdue, they are validating you at the highest level by entrusting their education to you. Much, much work is happening now to ensure that we can provide all of these new students (and so many current students who are coming back for their first “normal” semester) with the exceptional residential experience we are known for. To support these growing numbers, we have invested in additional TAs, limited-term lecturers, lecturers, visiting faculty, advisors, student support personnel, etc. Additional classroom space is being identified, as is additional housing space. We are adding 36 new tenure-track and clinical faculty this fall (hired last year), and have authorized searches for an additional 85 tenure-track and clinical faculty (new lines – on top of normal replacement positions) to be hired this year, joining us in Fall 2022. The work each of you is doing to prepare for our large incoming class and to welcome all students back to Purdue – and something we hope will be much more akin to our “normal” residential learning experience – is much appreciated.
We also are thinking about what our future workplace will be – where and how will our faculty and staff work in this post-COVID environment? Many of you have weighed in on this topic by completing the survey that was distributed by Human Resources earlier this month. There will be other listening sessions/opportunities to provide input as this workplace planning exercise moves forward. Your thoughts will be important as we explore what our Purdue workplace will look like in the future. Obviously, many Purdue jobs require on-campus presence to serve students, conduct and support research, etc. Others require some, but not full time on campus, while other jobs can be done literally from anywhere. Many, many of you have shared that if there was any positive takeaway from the COVID-19 experience, it was the flexibility, convenience, time savings, productivity, etc. that hybrid and remote work provided. We will certainly want to capture the lessons learned from this experience (positive and negative) as we work together on defining what our workplace should be post-COVID.
Plenty more to talk about: The Board of Trustees approved a Civics Literacy Proficiency graduation requirement for West Lafayette students beginning with our Fall 2021 class. You can find an update on some of the initial activities of the Equity Task Force here. Much work is underway on the Transformative Education 2.0 initiative. We will provide a more detailed update later in the summer, but general information can be found here.
Again, I wish you the most productive and enjoyable of summers – and I’m so looking forward to working with you to launch our 2021-22 academic year!
All the best,