The Indiana General Assembly adjourned April 29, after passing a budget that includes some good things for higher education and for Purdue in particular. The dialogue with legislative leaders in the months leading up to approval of the budget was excellent. It is clear that they took very seriously our messages that our state universities must maintain quality and that technology for teaching is an important new ongoing need.
By no means does the budget fund all of Purdue's needs. Students will be asked to share in the cost of providing high-quality programs. Throughout the legislative session, we stressed that funding for computer networks, hardware, software, and the staff to maintain them needs to be recurring. The budget that finally passed gives the Purdue system about $2.5 million for these purposes. This figure is about one-third of the amount requested, but the legislature's recognition that these are ongoing needs is an important first step, and we will continue to work hard on the issue in future sessions.
Some highlights of the state budget as it pertains to Purdue:
Purdue still has some difficult financial problems to solve, but we are grateful for the thoughtful and collegial way the General Assembly handled the higher education budget this year.
Grand Prix weekend came and went without any serious disciplinary problems on the West Lafayette campus. Student organizations, administrators, and faculty worked hard to create activities that provided alternatives to the alcohol abuse that unfortunately has become a problem on most university campuses, especially as the end of the academic year approaches. Local news media also played a positive role by raising the level of awareness in the community. Although some students and visitors were cited for alcohol-related infractions, the vast majority behaved responsibly, and we had a safe weekend.
It may seem a little early to talk about football, but the Boilermakers already have completed spring practice, and season ticket sales are under way. Joe Tiller's team is receiving a lot of pre-season national attention, and I'm looking forward to an exciting season. One of the most encouraging developments in recent years has been a steady increase in student ticket sales.
Since 1994, student attendance has increased steadily, thanks in part to some creative promotions and to efforts to make the purchase of tickets easier for students. Last season, student attendance at home games averaged 12,797, an increase of more than 50 percent over 1994. Early indications are that 1999 will be even better.