seal  Letter from the President

September 2003

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

September 2003 was one of the most intense months I have experienced at Purdue. It was full of excitement and new beginnings, but we also were touched by sadness.

The death of Frank O'Bannon on Sept. 13 initially produced shock and uncertainty throughout Indiana, as we found ourselves suddenly without a governor upon whose steady hand we had learned to depend. However, Joe Kernan's calm and confident assumption of state leadership was deeply reassuring. It gave us the reassurance we needed to deal with our grief. Hoosiers mourned Frank O'Bannon the way a family grieves for the loss of a father. It was a moving expression of affection on a statewide scale.

Frank was the kind of leader who won people's respect through his sincerity and deep devotion to public service. He deliberately avoided public displays of authority, instead working carefully behind the scenes to build consensus and move forward the programs. During the three years I was privileged to work with him, he was unfailingly courteous and generous. He impressed me with his grasp of key state issues and with his commitment to improving life for the people of Indiana. We have lost a great leader and a great friend.

• • •

The Purdue family suffered its own loss on Sept. 20 when Nancy Hansen, the wife of President Emeritus Art Hansen, passed away. Nancy and Art came to West Lafayette in the early 1970s when tensions over the Vietnam War and other political issues were dividing the campus. The Hansens quickly established a strong rapport with students and faculty and initiated a new period of growth for Purdue.

Nancy Hansen was a passionate lover of all the creative arts, and especially the theater. A year ago, Art surprised her by making a $1.8 million gift to Purdue to fund the Nancy T. Hansen Theatre in the university’s new Visual and Performing Arts Building. Art's announcement of that loving gesture and Nancy's reaction of pure joy formed a memory that will always be with everyone who was there that day.

It was a privilege for me to get to know the Hansens for a brief time after I came to Purdue. Nancy was a gracious and energetic woman who delighted everyone she met with her wit and intelligence. She has been a wonderful ambassador for Purdue, and she will always be with us through the theater that will bear her name.

• • •

Purdue closed the month of September on a celebratory note. Beginning on Sept. 26 and continuing through Homecoming Saturday on Oct. 4, we announced some $63 million in gifts to the Campaign for Purdue. The contributions will support scholarships, professorships and construction projects and bring the total raised in the campaign to $776 million. We are well on our way to the $1.3 billion goal.

Among the events that took place on campus during the period we called "It's Happening Here" week were:

• A celebration of the upcoming construction of a $25 million biomedical engineering building. Private gifts – including $5 million from the Whitaker Foundation – will account for about $12 million of the construction costs.

• The dedication of a sculpture honoring President Emeritus Steve Beering. The sculpture was created and donated by renowned Spanish artist Faustino Aizkorbe, who also fashioned the 40-foot bronze sculpture "Transformation," which is located on campus.

• A $2 million gift from Purdue Board Chairman Tim McGinley and his wife, Jane, for the Purdue Opportunity Awards scholarship program. Current and former members of the Board of Trustees have given an additional $1.28 million for these scholarships, which will support attendance at Purdue for needy students from all 92 Indiana counties.

• Completion of fund raising for a new $20 million computer sciences building. Heddy Kurz and her late husband, Herman, bequeathed $2 million to support this project, plus $800,000 to support the Purdue bands.

• The grand opening of the Krannert School of Management's $35 million Rawls Hall. Thanks to a $10 million gift from Jerry Rawls, this building – the construction of which was totally funded with private gifts – is the most advanced business education facility in the country.

• A celebration of the fund-raising progress for the $46 million Millennium Engineering Building. Purdue astronaut alumni Neil Armstrong and Mark Brown were on campus for this event. The building will become the new headquarters for aeronautics and astronautics and other engineering programs.

Those are just a few of the things that were happening here recently. Purdue is moving ahead fast, and there is more to come!