sealPurdue Letter from the President

May, 2000

On May 23, the Purdue Trustees announced that Martin C. Jischke, president of Iowa State University, will become Purdue's tenth president, effective August 14.

From the perspective of one who knows and very deeply loves Purdue and who has worked with and observed the talents of Martin Jischke for more than a dozen years, our Trustees could not have made a better decision. Besides having been the highly successful president of a land-grant institution that shares many of Purdue's strengths and characteristics, Martin is a person with a deep commitment to the idea that education has the power to change people's lives and, in the process, to improve the condition of all humanity. The same idea caused me to make a career change from medicine to the university world many years ago.

At the University of Oklahoma, Martin was a professor, a department head, the dean of engineering, and interim president during a 17-year career there. In every role, he produced outstanding results and showed his remarkable talent for leadership. For five years he served as chancellor of the University of Missouri-Rolla, and his success led to the presidency of Iowa State, which he assumed in 1991.

Martin also has been a strong and visible presence on the national scene, serving in a number of leadership positions, including the presidency of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

One of his greatest assets in the Purdue presidency will be his wife, Patty. A person of singular accomplishments, she holds a bachelor's degree in social work, a master of library sciences degree, and a juris doctorate, all from the University of Oklahoma. She is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association. Patty has put aside her law career in order to attend to her responsibilities as first lady at Iowa State. She will be a wonderful addition to the Purdue family.

Ever since I made the decision two years ago to relinquish the Purdue presidency, my greatest concern has been that the University select a president with the ability and commitment to continue the momentum of this wonderful institution. Jane and I are convinced that in Martin and Patty Jischke, Purdue has found the best leadership team for the start of the new century. We look forward to their arrival in West Lafayette.

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The Purdue Board of Trustees and the fourteen-member Presidential Search Committee -- both chaired by Tim McGinley -- did a remarkable job of conducting the national search that led to Martin Jischke's selection. They screened an initial list of more than 125 candidates down to fewer than ten finalists before the Trustees made a decision. The process allowed anyone in the University community to offer input and nominate candidates, but it protected the identity of candidates throughout. I congratulate everyone involved.

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The National Science Foundation's Early Career Development Awards annually recognize the nation's most promising young faculty members. The awards are designed to support junior faculty who are committed to the integration of research and education. These are the people whom the NSF expects to become the leaders of higher education as their careers progress.

Over the years, Purdue professors have received a disproportionate percentage of the Career Development Awards, and the trend continues with the announcement in May that the NSF has recognized eight of our faculty members with grants ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 over four or five years. Last year, Purdue people received nine of these awards. The fact that the University is consistently attracting such talented young people is extremely encouraging. They are an enormous asset to our students and to the institution.

This year's winners from Purdue -- all of whom hold the rank of assistant professor -- are:

Jillian Buriak, chemistry

Hicham Fenniri, chemistry

Ananth Grama, computer science

Kihong Park, computer science

Chris Rasmussen, mathematics, computer science and statistics at Purdue Calumet

T. N. Vijaykumar, electrical and computer engineering

Carl Wassgren, mechanical engineering

David Yau, computer science

I'm very proud of each of them and of the work they are doing for Purdue. The NSF is making a very smart investment on behalf of our nation by supporting the careers of such promising young people.

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Purdue held commencement ceremonies throughout the state during May, including four events in West Lafayette and one each at the regional campuses in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Hammond, and Westville. In addition, students were graduated at various Statewide Technology sites, including one in the state correctional facility at Westville.

Altogether, we have added 12,000 new degree-holding Boilermakers to the world in the past twelve months. That achievement alone makes it a great year!

Steven C. Beering