sealPurdue Letter from the President

October, 1997

This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of a momentous decision in Purdue's history. Art Hansen, my predecessor in this office, recognized that public institutions like Purdue would not continue to excel if they relied on state funding and student fees as their sole sources of revenue. Demands on the University were becoming more complex; the cost of specialized equipment was going up; and competition for Purdue-caliber faculty members was growing more intense.

Art decided to ask alumni and friends of Purdue to accept some of the responsibility for the University's support. In 1972, he established the University Development Office as the means of coordinating private giving. As the anchor for that process, he created the President's Council, a group of donors who made a commitment to support Purdue at a high level in order to provide a solid base of ongoing private funding. This fall, we are celebrating the President's Council's silver anniversary, and there is no question that the support of alumni and friends -- individuals, corporations, and foundations -- gives the University the edge it needs to maintain excellence.

Of course, contributions to Purdue are not a new idea. The University has benefited from the support of many people over the years -- beginning with the founding gift of John Purdue. In its early days, the University made significant strides because of people like David Ross and Amos Heavilon, successful entrepreneurs who recognized the value of higher education. However, the ad hoc support of a very small number of benefactors is not sufficient for the university of the late 20th century or the century to come. The President's Council's strength is in its numbers and in the diversity of interests that the more than 6,000 member families bring to their Purdue involvement.

They also serve Purdue in ways that go beyond their financial support -- as volunteers and as members of a variety of advisory groups and as informal consultants to faculty and administrators. But one of the greatest values of the President's Council is the example its members set for all of Purdue's alumni and friends. The Vision 21 campaign, which raised more than $330 million between 1989 and 1994, would not have been possible without the leadership of the Council. Its members make up only about 10 percent of the more than 60,000 people who donate to Purdue, but they are the critical anchor.

As we move toward the beginning of a new century, Purdue will rely more and more on this kind of support. Although the state appropriation will remain the bedrock on which we build the University's budget, it now accounts for less than 20 percent of the total funds used for the West Lafayette campus. If Purdue is to continue to be an institution of national stature -- and it is critical to our state's future that it does -- we must continue to increase the levels of both private support and research funding.

Fortunately, I am confident that the men and women of the President's Council will always be there for Purdue and that they will continue to build on their excellent tradition of commitment to the University.

Purdue's Krannert Graduate School of Management has been ranked among the top business programs in the country in two different publications. Business Week lists the school's Executive Master's Program among its top 20, and the publication "Which MBA? -- sponsored by the British magazine The Economist -- puts the school near the top among 115 programs worldwide in a variety of categories.

As I have said before in this letter, rankings of educational programs are flawed by nature, but it is gratifying to have this excellent program recognized for its quality.

Steven C. Beering