Purdue News

October 2004

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

Four years ago, Purdue began quietly laying the groundwork for a historic fund-raising initiative. We knew when we began planning that the Campaign for Purdue would have a goal that would exceed anything the University had achieved in the past. After extensive study and intense discussion among senior administrators, trustees and potential volunteers, we announced a $1.3 billion goal for the seven-year campaign.

Although our research told us that the goal was attainable, the figure still seemed overwhelmingly ambitious. However, during the third week of October 2004 – with almost three years to go in the campaign – gifts to the Campaign for Purdue passed the $1 billion mark. On October 22, Michael Birck, campaign chairman, announced that we will raise the goal to $1.5 billion.

The decision was the culmination of an exciting 10-day period during which Purdue announced new gifts totaling more than $40 million. The response of alumni, friends and corporate partners to the Campaign for Purdue has been an incredible show of support for a university that is deeply loved by the people it serves. Purdue has been transforming people's lives for more than 130 years, and many of those people are determined to give something back to their university so that it can serve the students of today and tomorrow even more effectively.

Also announced on October 22 was a $10 million commitment in support of Purdue's biomedical engineering initiative. The gift from the Weldon family will be used to hire additional faculty, support undergraduate and graduate students, and pay for other start-up expenses, including research initiatives.

The biomedical engineering department, which is in the process of a major expansion, will be named the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in honor of the family's gift. The Weldon family, which has members living in Georgia and Colorado, has deep Purdue roots. This generous donation is part of a strong tradition of giving to the University.

We have started construction on a 91,000-square-foot, four-floor, $25 million biomedical engineering building in Discovery Park. When completed in 2006, this facility will allow Purdue to enlarge the biomedical engineering faculty from six to twenty, expand the graduate program and further develop the undergraduate program, which began this fall.

The new building will bring together faculty, who are currently distributed across campus, into a single teaching and research environment that will house laboratories and facilities in key research areas, many of which involve partnerships with Indiana medical device and biotech companies specializing in orthopedic, cardiovascular and tissue engineering.

Eventually, about 100 students will graduate annually from Purdue's program – 75 undergraduates and 25 graduate students.

Work carried out by biomedical engineering faculty will complement research at the new Bindley Bioscience Center, Birck Nanotechnology Center and e-Enterprise Center in Discovery Park. All of these initiatives have strong potential to boost Indiana's economy by enhancing our capabilities in the life sciences and other knowledge-based industries.

During the 10-day period of celebration that began on October 14, the University held about 30 different events, including the dedication of the Yue-Kong Pao Hall for Visual and Performing Arts; the creation of new endowed professorships, made possible by a challenge grant from the Lilly Endowment; and the groundbreaking for Purdue's next major engineering building.

This building will be named the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering in honor of one of Purdue's most famous alumni. It will house the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the School of Materials Engineering and the Department of Engineering Education. It also will include space for the office of the dean of engineering and will be home to a variety of engineering programs, including Minorities in Engineering, Women in Engineering and Engineering Projects in Community Service.

A $5 million gift from Caterpillar Inc. was one of the keys to completing the facility, which will be built with both state and private support. This and many other shows of support turned October into one of the most exciting months I have spent at Purdue.


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