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A Web Letter from the Office of the Provost - September 2019

By Mary Jane Chew

A Message from Jay

Dear Colleagues,

One of the great rewards of my job is being asked to participate in events sponsored by our colleges and units. Earlier this week, I was delighted to attend the Department of Agricultural Economics 100th anniversary celebration — a unit with a proud history of living our land-grant mission and delivering excellence in learning, discovery and engagement. Full disclosure: Agricultural Economics also happens to be where a certain provost received his master’s and PhD on this campus. With that on the table, I couldn’t be more grateful for the professors and mentors I had the privilege of working with while I was a Purdue graduate student. Teachers truly make a lifelong impact, and I enjoy staying in contact with several of mine yet today.

I also participated earlier this month, with nearly 500 faculty, staff and students in the “Maximizing Student Potential” conference. I deeply appreciated the engagement of our campus community as they explored how we can help all students realize their highest aspirations as Boilermakers. While follow-up activities will be coming soon, three exceptional keynote speakers, Dr. Bridget Burns, executive director of the University Innovation Alliance, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, founding CEO and senior research scientist of Do Good Work educational consulting, and Dr. Claude Steele, professor of psychology at Stanford University, shared powerful ideas that each of us can work on every day.

Dr. Burns described successful universities as those that embrace innovation, and design systems and processes with a focus on better serving students. Dr. Strayhorn made a compelling case for the importance of a sense of belonging to student success. Dr. Steele made an equally compelling case for the importance of trust in a positive, supportive climate. I believe each of us can consider daily what we are doing to create a sense of belonging and what we are doing to build trust in our relationships. Great thanks to John Gates, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, and his team for an outstanding event!

Maximizing student potential is one of five themes that make up a larger initiative designed to transform undergraduate education at Purdue. It’s a roadmap that will help us build on our successful programs, refine areas that need attention, and launch bold new initiatives where opportunities exist. Repeating something I wrote in August: Our goal is for Purdue to be recognized, by 2025, as having the premier undergraduate program among U.S. R1 universities.

Work is underway in all five areas. As examples, we will be hosting our first Night of Teaching Excellence soon, putting a spotlight on our University-level teaching award winners. Soon we will be launching the STEPS TO LEAPS initiative, which will help our students develop positive habits to support their mental well-being throughout their lives and careers. If you are interested in this important area, please consider attending the STEPS TO LEAPS Summit, noon-4:30, Sept. 30, in the PMU North Ballroom to learn more. Limited seats are still available.

With the first few weeks of the semester behind us, my thanks to all of you, faculty and staff, for your outstanding support of our 44,551 students — the highest undergraduate and graduate enrollment in our history. Purdue’s most recent record-setting four- and six-year undergraduate graduation rates of 60.5% and 82.2%, and one-year retention rate of 91.6%, are clear evidence of our students’ hard work, our faculty excellence, our dedicated staff, and the quality of our programs.

As I close, let me remind you that every 10 years, the University is asked to take a comprehensive look at itself — to assess our programs and operations — as part of a reaccreditation process. Next month, October 14-15, an eight-member team of peer reviewers representing the Higher Learning Commission will be on our campus to conduct meetings with Purdue administrators, faculty, staff and students. While the HLC controls the formal agenda, there will be open forum sessions during the day, and we encourage you to participate as your schedule allows. (We have not yet received the schedule from the HLC, but will announce it on this website as soon as it is available.) Purdue has been accredited successfully since 1913 … we have an extraordinary history, but I can’t think of a better time to be a Boilermaker than today.

All the best,


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