sealPurdue Letter from the President

September, 1998

It has been estimated that the world will have to triple its food production during the twenty-first century in order to feed itself. This contingency has enormous implications for Indiana, which not only is a major agricultural producer but also an important exporter and a state with a strong industrial component to its economy.

That's why the formal dedication of Purdue's new Food Science Building was a significant event for the University and the state. Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan and several members of the General Assembly were on hand to underscore the economic impact of the $28 million facility.

Purdue's Department of Food Science has grown into the largest academic program of its kind in the country. With the completion of the new building, it becomes unquestionably the best. Its graduates are recruited intensely for high-paying positions in the fast-growing food production industry. Purdue food science faculty also are in demand as consultants. Professor Phil Nelson, head of the department, is both a gifted scientist and a visionary administrator.

The new Food Science Building already is an important center of teaching and research, but there is another dimension. Purdue's goal is to make Indiana a major center for food processing and production. By finding new uses for our state's agricultural products and by improving the processes that add market value to those products, we can provide a tremendous boost to our economy. The state recognized this potential in providing for the funding of the building. The next step is for leaders in government, business, and education to develop a strategy making the most of this great intellectual resource.

If we are innovative and energetic, we can create new jobs for Hoosiers, attract significant new investments to our state, and make an important contribution to the world's food needs in the next century.

I usually talk about research in terms of the new knowledge it produces and the economic impacts of innovation. However, the process of research has some surprising economic benefits. I recently received data from the Association of American Universities showing the number of jobs created by the research "industry" -- that is, people who work directly in research and development and those whose work is the result of expenditures by institutions engaged in research.

In the state of Indiana alone, more than 19,000 jobs exist because of research efforts at universities, which spend more than $390 million annually for the purpose. Nationally, we owe more than 396,000 jobs to the business of creating new knowledge.

These figures -- which are based on 1996 data -- do not even take into account the most important benefits of research: advances in technology, improvements in health and medical treatments, and the training of future generations of innovators.

Purdue lost one of its legendary figures in late August with the death of Dr. Fred Andrews. Fred was a rare combination of brilliant scientist, gifted administrator, and scintillating communicator. He retired as the University's vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School and vice president and general manager of the Purdue Research Foundation in 1980, but remained an active presence on campus and in the community.

Fred was the principal organizer of Purdue's first research and graduate programs in animal physiology and received national recognition for his work in reproductive and endocrine physiology. Purdue recognized his distinguished 40-year career here and lasting scientific contributions with an honorary doctor of agriculture degree in 1983.

He was a wise and trusted counselor, and I had the additional privilege of calling him my friend. The entire Purdue family will miss him.

Steven C. Beering