seal  Letter from the President

November 2003

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

During the years I have been writing this letter, I have referred to Purdue's strategic plan frequently, and I will continue to do so because the plan is at the root of every key activity at the University. During November, I had the opportunity to update our Board of Trustees on Purdue's progress after two years of being guided by the strategic plan. The short version of that report is this: It is working! Here is a slightly longer version:

The Board of Trustees formally approved a five-year strategic plan in November 2001 after extensive discussion that involved everyone in the University community who wanted to participate. A strong, broad-based committee, chaired by Rab Mukerjea, director of strategic planning and assessment, provided focus and direction. Among other things, Purdue compared itself to a stellar list of 11 peer universities. We took a hard look at how we do things and at the resources we would need to compete with these peers.

Two years into the plan, I am confident that the course we have charted for Purdue is the right one and that we are on the way to becoming a better university. I have three basic reasons for believing this:

• We have identified precisely what we need to do in order to achieve the preeminence that is our overarching goal. We understand where we need to strengthen ourselves, and we know how much these improvements will cost.

• Purdue is devoting more of its resources to teaching and learning. We are on the way to achieving the goal of adding 300 new full-time positions to the faculty, and this will have a dramatic effect on the professor-to-student ratio in the classroom. More professors will mean less reliance on graduate teaching assistants. At the same time, we are enhancing our discovery efforts on numerous fronts. Complementing these initiatives is the most aggressive building campaign in Purdue's history. We are planning $784 million in new construction or facilities improvements on the West Lafayette campus. Most of these funds will come from private donations.

• Purdue has a remarkably loyal group of alumni, faculty, staff and students. I would add parents to these groups, as well as many others I would call friends of the University – individuals, organizations and corporations that have been touched by Purdue and recognize its impact on people's lives. I have never seen more enthusiasm and excitement about an institution's direction than we are experiencing now.

It is not easy to implement a strategic plan that produces the kind of results Purdue's is beginning to deliver. Perhaps the most difficult part of the process is to take a realistic look at the strengths and weaknesses of the institution and come to terms with the need for new resources. When Purdue's trustees voted to adopt the plan two years ago, they were making courageous decisions about student fees, private fund raising, state resources and academic priorities.

For example, we knew we could not rely on significant increases in state support to help us meet our goals. The state of Indiana has remained steadfast in support of higher education, but it is dealing with serious financial problems of its own. We believed Purdue alumni and friends would respond to an appeal for increases in private support, and they have done so. We believed our students and their parents would understand the need for increased fees if we explained exactly how the funds would be used. They have understood, and applications for admission to Purdue continue to set records each year.

With this strategic plan guiding its destiny, Purdue is on a roll that will take it to preeminence in higher education. With two years completed in a five-year plan, the University is ready fulfill its potential for economic development in Indiana, and it is offering its students a high-quality education that continues to improve.

Strategic planning is paying off for Purdue, and the future is bright!

If you would like to have a published copy of Purdue's strategic plan, feel free to contact my office. You also can read the plan online by going to and selecting the "strategic plan" link.

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November was a great month for Boilermaker athletics. The Purdue football team finished a great season and is looking ahead to a bowl game. Both men's and women's basketball got off to great starts. The women's soccer program reached a new level by making an appearance in the final 16 of the NCAA tournament. And the volleyball team finished a season in which it made great improvements over recent years. Congratulations to all these athletes and coaches!

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As we near the end of 2003, please accept my best wishes for a happy holiday season and a great new year!