In August of 2000, while I was trying to decide whether the Purdue presidency was the right job for me, one of the first campus facilities my wife, Patty, and I visited was the University's Black Cultural Center. The building just amazed us. It combines function, beauty and an expression of African-American tradition in a way that is supremely elegant. I thought at the time: This is a university that really does things right.
I was even more impressed when I learned that Purdue had built its Black Cultural Center entirely with gift funds at a cost of about $3.9 million. A publicly supported university like Purdue relies primarily on state funding or on bonding authority granted by the state to build most of its facilities. But gifts from alumni and friends, and from corporations and foundations that share the University's vision, can play an important role. They make it possible to create something like the Black Cultural Center, for which state funds were not available. Gift funds also can enhance state-funded projects or improve existing facilities.
I believe a university's ability to raise money from private sources also is a reflection of its quality and its commitment to improve itself. Purdue has enjoyed a high degree of success in this respect, and we have plans to do even more. Here are some examples of how gift funds are being used to build or enhance the University's facilities:
Workers are putting the finishing touches on a new Aquatics Center, which will be open by the start of the fall semester. This building will provide a state-of-the-art competitive facility for the Boilermaker swimming and diving teams. It also will meet all the recreational and intramural needs of the West Lafayette campus. Alumni and friends contributed $17.1 million, which funded the entire project and also helped renovate portions of the Recreational Sports Center.
Rawls Hall, a $38.5 million building that will be part of the Krannert School of Management, will be built entirely with gift funds. Alumnus Jerry S. Rawls provided the project's lead gift.
Gifts from alumni Mike and Kay Birck, Jim and Lois Ackerman, and the family of the late Emerson Kampen, made it possible to revitalize the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex. Supporters gave a total of $6.6 million for the project.
Agricultural Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus, is currently vacant. It will be renovated and revitalized with $12 million in gift funds.
In some instances, private donations can leverage state funds. Purdue's state budget request currently before the General Assembly includes some examples of this approach:
The University is asking the state to allocate $13 million for a new computer sciences building. We are committed to raising another $7 million from private sources. This badly needed facility would be a tremendous benefit for the Department of Computer Sciences and its students, which now are scattered in five different locations.
For a multipurpose engineering building, the University has requested $35 million with a commitment to raise $10 million privately. This building would house several engineering programs and would trigger a much larger fund-raising campaign by the Schools of Engineering.
For an addition to the Mechanical Engineering Building, the University is seeking $10 million from the state to be matched with an equal amount from gifts.
The state has authorized $20.5 million for a new Visual and Performing Arts Building. The University is working to raise another $14.5 million to add a theater to the facility.
In each instance, the people of Indiana's investment in the University will be given a much higher value because of private support. There are other projects in the planning stages, and I'll talk about them in future letters. Although the state is and should be the primary funding source for University facilities, we will continue looking for creative ways to use private support to enhance the campus to make sure our faculty and students have the best facilities possible.
The Boilermakers' exciting run to the NCAA women's championship game against Notre Dame was a tribute to Coach Christy Curry, her staff and the remarkable young women on the team. Unfortunately, some of our students used their achievement as an excuse for destructive behavior after the title game. I'm not often in the position of having to apologize for Purdue students, and I don't like it.
The University will do everything in its power to deal with the situation and to see that nothing like this happens again. I hope what we remember is not the irresponsible actions of a few misguided people but the excitement of a wonderful game in which two Indiana universities competed for the national championship.