Provost's Newsletter – May 2018

A Message from Jay

Provost Jay

Dear Colleagues,

With commencement just around the corner and my own “freshman year” as provost and chief diversity officer coming to a close, I’m writing to thank you for a very successful and productive academic year. (Though we are wrapping up the spring semester, I know that most of you don’t slow down in any way during the summer months ....)

This is the time of year when you can spot the Think Summer bus making its rounds and find our students sporting their Think Summer T-shirts. Students who enroll during Purdue summers participate in study abroad or internship programs, conduct undergraduate research, or take courses to shorten their time to degree. Based on recent data, it looks like our students agree that enrolling during the summer months is a good use of their time.

Summer enrollment has increased overall (online and on-campus) nearly 40 percent from 2012 to 2017. Study Abroad also reports a healthy 40 percent increase since the 2011-12 academic year — by the time they graduate, more than a quarter of our students have had at least one study abroad experience. And more of our undergraduates are involved in research thanks in large part to the newly opened Office of Undergraduate Research. The office, led by Amy Childress, provides a great central source for our students, faculty and staff to match student research interests with research opportunities year-round.

Like you, the Provost’s Office will be busy during the summer months. We hope to announce new deans for the College of Education, College of Agriculture, and Graduate School over the next few weeks. Among other projects, we will be working on developing plans for how we enhance our support of great teaching and high-impact learning and how we can better promote undergraduate professional skill development. These plans will be informed by the 10 focus group sessions conducted this spring by Frank Dooley, senior vice provost for teaching and learning; Sheila Hurt, program director for the Boiler Success Team; and me. 

Another area I’m excited about is the Integrative Data Science Initiative. I appreciate the great input we’ve received from faculty, staff and students and the leadership of Sunil Prabhalkar, professor and head of the computer science department and director of the IDSI; Patrick Wolfe, the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and chair of the IDSI steering committee; Jenna Rickus, associate vice provost for teaching and learning; and Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, Discovery Park’s chief scientist and executive director. The request for data science research proposals this spring generated 52 proposals from 172 Purdue faculty from 48 departments in 10 colleges. The proposals selected for funding will be announced soon.

Work on the data science education front is advancing as well. Already, we are including a data science module in the Summer Start and Early Start coursework for this year. In addition, we will pilot the Data Mine, a cross-campus collection of data science learning communities that will be housed in Hillenbrand Hall. The pilot will include 100 students and, assuming the pilot goes well, we will expand the Data Mine to the entire residence hall (800 students) in fall 2019.  These initiatives and others will put us on the path to becoming THE place to go for a diverse talent pool of data scientists and data-competent students. 

Projections indicate that we are also on our way to another record year with respect to our fall 2018 entering class. As President Daniels announced last week, we anticipate approximately 8,300 incoming undergraduate students this fall, including the largest number of Indiana residents in a decade. A number of investments will be made in the short run (academic advisors, TAs, visiting faculty, etc.) to help ensure we continue to provide an exceptional educational experience for all of our students. Longer term, two new residence halls, an expansion of the Wiley Dining Court, and the new STEM Teaching Lab facility, among other investments, will provide important capacity. I know that you all will continue to work to help these new students – and all members of our Purdue community – feel welcome on our campus, have a positive experience, and ultimately achieve their highest aspirations.

Over the past academic year, I have seen excellence firsthand in the meetings, conferences, ceremonies, events, and roundtables I have been privileged to attend as well as in the conversations I have had with our faculty, staff, and students. I can’t thank you enough for the opportunities you have given me and the patience you have displayed — I am confident I have learned more than I have imparted. Amid all the teaching, research, and engagement activities that will be taking place on our beautiful campus (and around the world!), I look forward to seeing many of you this summer as we lay the foundation for a very successful 2018-19 academic year. 

Hail Purdue!


May 2018


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