sealFebruary, 1999 Column by the President

Investing in the Future

Steven C. Beering
President, Purdue University

Purdue University's commitment to the people of Indiana through education, service and outreach remains faithful to the promise upon which the state's land-grant institution was founded 130 years ago.

Yet keeping that promise will require a cooperative effort by the University and the state of Indiana to assure that the vital role Purdue plays in all Hoosiers' lives is nurtured and enhanced. Purdue is a key to competitiveness today and tomorrow, and that's the important message we are taking to our state's legislative leadership.

Indiana must invest in its people -- through a strong commitment to higher education -- if the state is to grow and prosper in the 21st century. If it can offer competitive salaries for the best and brightest faculty and stay in w's opportunities and challenges through partnerships with business, industry, schools, government, and our peer institutions.

For Greater Lafayette, the future is today in our community's high-technology arena, whether it's the recently announced relocation plans for the Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution Meter Division, or the beehive of high-tech business pursuits under way in the Purdue Research Park with its 81 companies and 2,500 employees.

Here and everywhere, technology will pace the new millennium. Constantly evolving computer technologies offer exciting opportunities for learning, research and accessing Purdue expertise. Our students must be exposed to the latest tools if they are to be competitive in the marketplace. Our funding emphasis is on additional computer laboratories, software and hardware upgrades, distance learning initiatives, and additional support personnel to maintain Purdue's edge in this exciting learning realm.

Equity is an issue at the heart of the quality of a Purdue education at our regional campuses. Per-student funding on Purdue regional campuses seriously lags behind their peer institutions in Indiana and other states. These shortages have challenged our campuses to maintain the educational excellence our students statewide deserve.

Purdue takes very seriously its long-standing role in agricultural research and the Cooperative Extension Service, with its outreach programs that touch everyone in our state. Federal funding for these vital services has eroded by 20 percent in the past decade, so we seek funds to allow current staffing levels in all 92 county offices to be stabilized while insulating them from the uncertainties of federal funding.

Our Technical Assistance Program has a remarkable track record of helping Hoosier businesses and industries solve problems and work smarter by tapping into the expertise of Purdue faculty. Since 1986, some 4,000 firms have saved $15.2 million with a hand from TAP, while increasing sales by $143.4 million, adding some 1,000 jobs and maintaining nearly 1,300 jobs. Our aim is to expand TAP through the School of Technology Statewide Delivery System to serve even more Indiana companies in coming years, further underscoring Purdue's commitment to state economic development.

These funding-request areas are only at the forefront of the entire University's aim to be a key partner with the state as Indiana looks toward the future. If we are ready to invest in ourselves, to make a commitment to work together, and to think in terms of profound long-range benefits, we can create a brilliant legacy for the 21st century.

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