Fall 2003 Department of Communication Purdue University
Eli Lilly, Department form relationship to explore professional track in graduate curriculum
By Emmy Mittler
The department and Eli Lilly and Co. have been working together to build a graduate curriculum that will help students develop skills needed to work for Lilly and other members of the scientific/medical community.
With the support of Purdue's Graduate School and Lilly, Steve Wilson, director of graduate studies in the department, has submitted a grant to fund the initial planning stage of what could lead to a professional track in the department's master's program.
Howard Sypher, department head, said that partnerships like the one that Lilly and Purdue are working on fit well with what the department and Purdue are trying to accomplish in their strategic plans.
Sypher said that he thinks some Purdue students fit what industry is looking for in employees and that a professional track would help develop skills to build successful careers at companies like Lilly for individuals who want to pursue such paths.
Stephanie Brown, team leader of global scientific information and communications at Lilly and a Purdue alumna, said that while looking at the department Web site, she realized that there was potential to build a new program into the current curriculum. Brown said that in the past, employees were hired because of their teamwork skills and then later taught the technical aspects of the job. With a graduate program for science communication at Purdue, future employees will be better prepared to join the profession, she said.
Sypher said that although Purdue traditionally has strong ties with Lilly in the science departments, the Communication Department is eager to explore other ways to partner with companies like Lilly.
With this partnership, many opportunities are expected to be available for Purdue faculty, students and Lilly employees. Some of these opportunities, in addition to building courses that will help students prepare for work at Lilly, include:
Lilly chose Purdue because of its national reputation and the flexibility of its degree program requirements and the coursework a student would need to fulfill the science aspect of the degree, said Brown. "Purdue is a strong science school, and also such a strong communication school (that) it was the best university for it," she said.
Brown is enthusiastic about Purdue's support of building a new graduate curriculum. She said that Lilly had attempted similar programs at other universities, but these attempts had never worked. "The response we are getting from Purdue is fantastic," she said.
"It's really great to see Purdue being innovative and forward thinking," said Brown.