Purdue News

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

February 2006

Dear Purdue Partners,

The strategic plan adopted by Purdue's Board of Trustees almost five years ago includes three primary goals related to learning, discovery and engagement. One of the key strategies for engagement — as stated in the strategic plan — is to:

"Increase partnerships to enhance commercialization of research, entrepreneurial initiatives, support for startup companies, and assistance to the state and to business, industry, and agriculture."

Purdue has taken that commitment very seriously. This was demonstrated emphatically at a dinner held in February to recognize the accomplishments of members of our faculty whose research has either led to commercial applications or promises to do so in the near future.

Sponsored by the Purdue Research Foundation, the dinner honored dozens of faculty members, but the highlight of the evening was the recognition of Fred Regnier, the John H. Law Professor of Chemistry. Professor Regnier received the Outstanding Technology Commercialization Award, which is sponsored by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.

Professor Regnier holds more than 40 patents, many of which are licensed by Indiana companies. His research — which has created more than 700 jobs in our state — has generated more than $2 million in revenue for Purdue. More importantly, his work has led to significant improvements in medical procedures, and this has helped diabetics, people suffer from blood clots and those who need human growth hormone.

The careers of Professor Regnier and other faculty members like him demonstrate that a land-grant university like Purdue is not an isolated intellectual bastion, but an important part of the Indiana economy. In fiscal year 2005, the Purdue Research Foundation reported 202 invention disclosures compared with 167 the year before. It also was issued 109 patents and received royalty income totaling $4.68 million. All of these measurements improved significantly over the previous year. In the past six years, the University's invention and copyright disclosures have more than doubled. The foundation also reported the creation of six startup companies in 2004 and five in 2005.

Purdue is determined to improve the quality of life for people in Indiana. While providing educational opportunities for our students remains the most visible aspect of that commitment, developing new enterprises out of the intellectual capital generated by our faculty is one of our primary missions, and I believe Purdue is positioned to play this role as effectively as any university in the country.

Discovery Park contains not only some of the most advanced research facilities in the nation, but also has the expertise and administrative structure to turn ideas into important products and services and to turn those commodities into successful business enterprises. The combination of interdisciplinary research in numerous fields, student involvement through the Discovery Learning Center, and the Burton Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship can create a pipeline through which great ideas — like the ones exemplified in Fred Regnier's work — will flow into the economy.

I am confident Purdue will do this even more successfully in the future. People in Indiana and beyond its borders will benefit, and so will our students.

• • •

One of the most significant changes in campus life at Purdue has been the transformation of dining facilities from places that served mundane institutional food — which students ate because they had no other choice — into bright, consumer friendly enterprises that offer exciting and varied cuisine that is delicious by any standard.

Purdue's student dining facilities, which are self-supporting, are going though a $48 million renovation that is designed to provide not only tasty food, but also good nutrition, a variety of options and pleasant environments for dining.

The efforts were recognized in February when Food Management magazine announced that Purdue's dining upgrade has won its "Best of Show" award for excellence across all categories of food services.

The renovation has reduced the number of dining facilities on campus, but increased the options students have and improved the quality of food and service. Here is what Sarah Johnson, director of dining services, said about the changes Purdue has made over the past few years:

"The new facilities give students what they are looking for: choice. That includes choices of locations, styles, cuisines and operating hours. The changes make Purdue's dining services less like traditional campus food and more like the restaurants our students have grown up with."

The national award is great recognition for our food service operation, but there's another recognition that may be even more significant. Purdue faculty and staff, as well as the general public, are welcome to purchase meals in the student dining halls. Many of them do — and they have a choice!


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