Purdue News

October 2005

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

Dear Purdue Partners,

I don't often send additional information with this monthly letter, but today I wanted to share with you the enclosed brochure. In a very abbreviated format, it gives an accounting of how Purdue manages its resources in order to offer the best possible value for our students and provide the maximum return on the investment made by our state.

When I accepted the presidency a little more than five years ago, I took a very close look at how the institution was managed. I was aware that Purdue had a reputation for getting a lot out of its assets, but I still was impressed by what I found. Purdue has achieved a level of excellence that no analyst would predict based on the resources available.

My goal has been to maintain that tradition while finding more resources to move Purdue to an even higher level. The enclosed publication explains that Purdue spends about $25,000 on the education of each student. This is 29 percent less than the average spent by our peer institutions and 19 percent below the Big Ten average.

In the use of classrooms, Purdue is remarkably efficient. It has 30 percent less space than the Big Ten average, while its usage is 30 percent higher.

The brochure also shows that Purdue's overall spending has increased at a rate well below inflation rates. While the higher education price index went up 18 percent between 2000 and 2004, Purdue's supply and expense allocations increased only 4 percent. We have tried to keep our salaries competitive, but even in this category, the Purdue increase was below the higher education price index.

We are proud of what the university has achieved by operating so efficiently, but there is another side to the story. While it is a Purdue hallmark to do more with less, having fewer resources than other universities that are competing with us for faculty, students and research support eventually will affect our performance. Purdue will not reach the higher level of excellence to which it aspires – and which our state needs – through skillful reallocation and careful management only.

When I assessed Purdue's situation five years ago, I not only saw a university that was outstanding in many academic areas and extremely well-managed, but also a university that could not expect to improve without finding more resources. The strategic plan we developed addressed this challenge by identifying areas in which Purdue was underfunded and developing specific ways to increase the major revenue streams.

The $1.5 billion Campaign for Purdue, a significant increase in research funding and a $1,000 increase in student fees that took effect for new students beginning in 2002 are all part of the effort to give the university more resources to be applied to improving the quality of education.

Every measurement we can use to determine our progress indicates that the plan is working. We have increased the number of full-time faculty; we are in the midst of the most extensive building and renovation effort in Purdue history; the students enrolling are better prepared than they have ever been; our faculty is competing more successfully for research funding; rankings of academic programs have improved significantly; and we are engaging the state with programs that help businesses, institutions and individuals succeed.

While we do these things, we continue to manage our resources with great care in order to maximize the state's investment. Indiana's annual operating appropriation to Purdue is $311 million. The university leverages these funds into an economic impact for the state of $2.5 billion. That's a very good return on investment!

• • •

The first two weeks of October were tremendously exciting on the West Lafayette campus. We celebrated some of the successes of the Campaign for Purdue with more than 30 special activities that included over $30 million in gift announcements, several events, a groundbreaking, campaign celebrations and building dedications. The activities culminated with our Oct. 15 Homecoming.

Among the new buildings dedicated were the Birck Nanotechnology Center and the Bindley Bioscience Center. Both are state-of-the-art facilities in Discovery Park, which now is home to 10 interdisciplinary centers and some of the most exciting and promising research in the world.


To the News Service home page

Newsroom Search Newsroom home Newsroom Archive