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Photo of the Purdue drum statue.

Office of the Dean

January 2023

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to welcome you back to campus as Purdue begins a new era with President Mung Chiang leading our university.

President Chiang has signaled a renewed emphasis on scholarly impact. This aligns with our College initiatives around the CLA Research Academy, intended to nurture faculty research across all of our disciplines, and our faculty hiring with an investment in building new research capability in the areas of artificial intelligence and sociogenomics.

As announced in late October, Professor of Sociology Brian Kelly has agreed to serve as the Inaugural Faculty Director of the CLA Research Academy. An initiative of the CLA Strategic Plan, the Research Academy is designed to support faculty research activities to advance AAU metrics and help College of Liberal Arts faculty elevate their research impact in ways that will contribute to Purdue’s continued membership in the AAU. Watch for engagement opportunities from the Research Academy during spring semester to support your research.

Our faculty hiring is in high gear and numerous potential colleagues will be on campus this spring. We are seeing extraordinary candidates who are energized by the momentum of the College and our forward-looking faculty investment in areas that align with important Purdue research strengths. As was true a year ago, much of our hiring aligns with our effort to position our disciplines on a future-oriented path. Today, the College is at the forefront of institutions defining and redefining the social sciences, humanities, and arts and demonstrating their contemporary relevance. We also proudly continue to communicate our commitment to undergraduate instruction with teaching commitments in Cornerstone for virtually all new hires.

Regarding Cornerstone, it was a moment of great pride and import to see the Boyer 2030 Commission highlight the Cornerstone program as a nationwide model aimed at developing creative thinking and communication skills across all Purdue academic majors. The Boyer Commission, made up of a “diverse group of accomplished higher education leaders,” was tasked with developing a 2030 blueprint for undergraduate education at U.S. research universities. The report used the Cornerstone certificate as an example of why university presidents, chancellors, and provosts should institutionalize equity and excellence in undergraduate education through faculty hiring practices. It states; “For example, at Purdue University, new tenure-track hires in the College of Liberal Arts must commit half of their teaching to the Cornerstone program described above. As you approve hires and/or work with deans, departments, and faculty to set priorities and criteria for hiring, you have the opportunity and the power to break open the silos of departments in service to university mission.”

Alongside enhancing our support for faculty research and completing another robust faculty hiring cycle, advancing projects announced in the fall will be on our agenda for spring semester.

In October, the Board of Trustees approved a $46.6M project that includes the restoration of University Hall and thoughtful renovations in Beering and Stanley Coulter halls as a result of our 2022 CLA Space Study. This investment in the College’s buildings will modernize our spaces, increase student collaboration and study spaces, and respond to present day ways of working and learning. Thank you to the various colleagues involved in the next phase of conversations to begin to flesh out these plans.

Earlier in the semester, the University announced a vision to evolve Krannert into a new Business School with degrees blending science, engineering, and liberal arts. Among the four pillars of the new school of business is Cornerstone for Business, featuring specially-curated versions of our foundational SCLA 101 and 102 classes and other curricular elements to prepare students to speak well, write well, and interact well. These sections will include the study of readings that explore the history, philosophy, and economic theory of market capitalism.

In a joint announcement, Purdue and Indiana universities announced the split of the IUPUI campus into two schools. The Purdue-Indianapolis campus is slated to function as an extension of the West Lafayette campus rather than a separate regional entity. With Purdue delivering engineering, computer science, and technology degrees, our College is involved in discussions regarding delivery of general education courses for those students. As that plan takes shape, I anticipate we will be responsible for a meaningful instructional commitment.

A highlight of fall semester for the College and the campus was the visit of President George W. Bush, who participated in the final Presidential Lecture Series event of President Daniels’ tenure. Sponsored by the Louis Martin Series Lecture Series and presented by the College, this was among the most memorable nights in the history of Purdue University. It was the first campus event featuring a U.S. President since Ronald Reagan spoke in Mackey Arena in 1987.

Among the events of early December, a number of our faculty and students participated in a thought-provoking panel, the Freedom of Inquiry and the Advancement of Knowledge Symposium. With President Chiang reiterating Purdue’s commitment to open inquiry in his inaugural message to the Purdue community, I look forward to continued events and conversations highlighting the centrality of free inquiry and debate to the mission of higher education: to discover and disseminate knowledge to understand and advance the human condition.

Of note, alumnus Av Gray (BSME 1956) donated a collection of 74 sculptures by French Impressionist Edgar Degas – including one of Degas’ signature creations, La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen). With this gift, Purdue now has one of the most comprehensive collections of Degas sculptures in the country housed within our Purdue Galleries collection. We plan to display the full collection next fall. Valued at $21M, it is the largest gift ever to the College and puts our mid-year fundraising total at nearly $26M.

Fall was a busy semester, and clearly, we are on the cusp of yet another full semester with much work needed to further these projects. Again, I thank the many faculty and staff across the College whose talents and commitment will move our efforts forward as we continue to emerge in noteworthy ways as a leader in innovative liberal arts education and scholarship. I am mindful that while we have made great progress over the past seven-plus years, the opportunity before us remains vast and significant. I look forward to advancing these efforts with you.

Best wishes for the semester.


David Reingold

David A. Reingold
Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts