Purdue News

August 2006

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

Dear Purdue Partners,

The Richard G. Lugar Summit on Energy Security, held August 29 on the West Lafayette campus, culminated months of intense planning, and I believe it met its goal of raising the level of debate on this crucial issue.

The question of how America can remain secure when it has limited control over one of its primary energy sources will trouble us for a long time, but I think we gained a better understanding of the problem through the summit. Senator Lugar, Governor Mitch Daniels and Congressman Pete Visclosky all made it clear that they recognize energy security as a serious issue. Corporate leaders who participated indicated they have gotten the message, too.

Successful solutions — and I use the plural advisedly — will require well-coordinated efforts that include government, business, consumers and universities. Government and business leaders will have to recognize the need to fund research to create new and renewable energy sources, and our citizens must be supportive of these efforts.

At the same time, universities must be open to these new and innovative public-private relationships. The old models for our research practices must give way to relationships focused on faster results. Universities in the 21st century must be open to finding new ways of doing business.

Research in alternative energy will require bringing together top people from many fields in interdisciplinary work. It will often require bringing the resources of several universities together to target a potential breakthrough. It will require universities to adapt a more entrepreneurial spirit.

Purdue is committed to this approach. It is the primary motivation behind Discovery Park, our interdisciplinary research and teaching complex. Discovery Park is not affiliated with any single college or school at Purdue. It is a cluster of research centers designed to connect faculty and students from many disciplines on our campus, as well as researchers from other universities and from industry.

Bringing the best minds from many disciplines together is one of the ways universities can help solve the energy riddle. It is with economists and social scientists working together with engineers and other scientists that we can best capture the enormous synergies that are possible. Economic analysis can help target our technical research so that we allocate our resources most efficiently.

At the same time we examine alternative energy sources, we must also examine national policy changes that will be necessary to make this practical. Innovative policy analysis can help move scientific discovery more quickly to the marketplace. And in-depth policy analysis helps provide information that leads to better decisions in Washington, Indianapolis and state capitals across the nation. Science, technology, education, government and economic policy must all play roles in creating a better energy future.

Purdue and other American universities are ready for this challenge. Enlightened leaders in business and government recognize the need for a well-coordinated initiative to reduce America's dependence on oil, especially imported oil. The Lugar-Purdue Summit brought together creative and committed people to begin to develop strategies. We have only begun, but it is a very good beginning.

• • •

I made the decision in August that the 2006-2007 academic year would be my last as president of Purdue. Patty and I fell in love with this University from the very beginning — and it will always be the focus of our lives — but it is time for my family and me to enjoy one another more often. And it is also time for Purdue to move in directions that only fresh leadership can take it.

I am deeply proud of the things the University and its supporters have achieved in the past six years. It was my honor to be the one asked to lead those efforts. I am grateful to our trustees for asking me to be a part of this great institution, and I thank each of you for your support.

Purdue's history is one of America's great success stories, and it's future, I am certain, will be even greater.


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