sealPurdue Letter from the President

June 2001

Shortly after I came to Purdue last August, I set a goal to raise $120 million in private donations for the 2000-2001 fiscal year. This represented a substantial increase over the previous year, but I was optimistic that we could get the job done. As it turned out, I greatly underestimated the support of Purdue’s alumni, friends, and corporate partners.

Although the final numbers aren’t completely tallied yet, giving to Purdue for the year ended June 30 will surpass $170 million. This is a remarkable achievement for the institution. Even though we have modified our gift counting procedures to include pledges and certain other revocable gifts, private contributions have made a huge stride in a single year, and I believe we will grow even more in the future. The University’s commitment to get to a new level of excellence will require significant increases in all the revenue sources that support our programs. Private giving is one area in which Purdue has tremendous potential for growth.

Although private giving has always played a role at Purdue – starting with John Purdue’s gift of $150,000 to help found the institution – the University did not make a commitment to seek regular contributions until about 30 years ago.

Today, the leading public universities are the ones that have been most successful in attracting gifts from the private sector. Although state appropriations and student fees will remain the foundation of Purdue’s budget, I believe the support of alumni, friends, corporations and foundations must play a larger role if we are to achieve and maintain the excellence that is at the center of our vision.

A successful program of private support will create endowments that provide ongoing funding for student scholarships, faculty salaries, academic programs and facilities. These gifts can be especially powerful when we use them to leverage other kinds of support. Here are two examples in the facilities area:

• The Indiana General Assembly allocated $13 million to Purdue for construction of a new Computer Science building. The University is in the process of raising $7 million in private funds for the project, so the state will get a $20 million value for its $13 million investment.

• The Legislature also appropriated $5 million for a new nanotechnology research center at West Lafayette. We were able to gain this appropriation because I could make a commitment to match the state’s contribution with at least $10 million in private support. Nanotechnology, which focuses on building minute devices and systems atom by atom, will affect business, medical treatment, communications and other fields. It has tremendous economic potential for the state. We haven’t yet determined the full scope of the center to be built here, but private support will make its value significantly greater than the $5 million the state is providing. The final return on this investment is potentially staggering.

Purdue’s private support comes from a variety of sources. It’s alumni – more than 300,000 of them throughout the world – account for about half the gift money that comes to the University. Another 28 percent comes from corporations, foundations and other organizations. The remainder comes from friends; individuals who did not attend Purdue but who are excited about its programs and people.

One of my highest priorities in the months ahead will be to communicate to all our constituencies the excitement I feel about Purdue’s enormous potential. I believe this University is poised to make tremendous strides in terms of its own excellence. In the process it will become an even greater asset to the state of Indiana and the nation and a better servant to the needs of its students.

As those things occur, the University’s support from all sources will grow.

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Personnel notes: With the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, three key members of the Purdue team started work. Sally Frost Mason, formerly of the University of Kansas, assumed her duties as provost of the University; Howard Cohen, from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, became chancellor of Purdue Calumet; and Murray Blackwelder arrived from Iowa State University to become senior vice president for advancement.

Martin C. Jischke