A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke
One of the key focuses of The Campaign for Purdue is scholarships. When we launched our $1.3 billion campaign in September 2002, we set a goal of $200 million to be raised for the support of students. Already our donors have given about $75 million for scholarships, and I'm confident we will reach our goal.
One of the most exciting of our scholarship initiatives will be the Purdue Opportunity Awards Program. This effort will focus on students with financial need who have faced unusual personal challenges or hardship that could stand in the way of pursuing a degree. Purdue will provide one freshman from each of Indiana's 92 counties with a complete financial aid package. A combination of state, federal and private gift funds will pay the full expense of attending Purdue for a year all tuition and room and board costs.
The university also will provide continuing assistance in subsequent years to make sure financial obstacles will not prevent these students from continuing their studies.
We are tremendously excited about the Purdue Opportunity Awards Program for a number of reasons. It will touch people throughout the state of Indiana. Promising young people who perhaps had reason to doubt whether a college education was possible for them will get the chance to attend a great university. I take intense personal interest in this initiative because a scholarship I received many years ago set me on the path of higher education that has brought me to Purdue. I became the first person in my family to receive a college degree, and I believe this has made all the difference in my life.
In talking to Purdue alumni and friends, I have found that many of them have stories similar to mine. Through the help of others, or through their own initiative, they were able to attend the University, and the experience transformed their lives.
Transformation is what happens when someone gets the opportunity for education. The American university experience of which Purdue is a sterling example is unique. It is the most powerful tool ever devised for improving people's lives. It not only prepares them for successful entry into careers, it helps them become better citizens, better family members and better participants in their communities. None of us fully understands how this happens, but we know it works.
In developing its scholarship program, Purdue has focused on certain key goals:
Providing for those with financial need, so that lack of funds will not deny qualified students the opportunity for a Purdue degree.
Rewarding academic excellence, in order to bring as many outstanding students as possible to Purdue.
Enhancing the diversity of the university, so that our student body reflects the people of Indiana and America. One example is the George Washington Carver Fellowship. We will offer 50 of these awards to graduates of historically black, Hispanic serving or tribal colleges who want to pursue academic careers.
Supporting students in specialized programs. This includes athletics, musical groups, the President's Leadership Initiative and other areas.
Purdue has come a long way in improving its scholarship and fellowship opportunities. We still have far to go, but the Campaign for Purdue will be the springboard to a new level of success.
The Indiana General Assembly faces the difficult task of reconciling two different versions of the state's biennial budget. The House and Senate budget bills both indicate that our legislators value higher education, and I congratulate the members for their efforts.
However, the state's increasingly gloomy revenue situation continues to dog the process. Unless we address this problem, it will be very difficult for Indiana to carry out an effective economic development strategy. We will continue to work with state leadership to find a solution.