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Donations to fund new Purdue professorship, research center

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Two gifts totaling $2 million from former Eli Lilly & Co. executive W. Brooks Fortune and several other alumni will fund the establishment of a new research center and the creation of a distinguished professorship in Purdue University's top-ranked analytical chemistry division.

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The announcements were made today (Friday, 9/20) at a retirement luncheon for Harry Pardue, a professor of chemistry in whose honor the research center will be named. The event was part of Discover Purdue Week as well as a two-day celebration of Pardue's life and career.

The $1.5 million deferred gift from Fortune, a Purdue alumnus from Indianapolis, will create a new academic chair, the W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor in Analytical Chemistry, for the analytical chemistry division of the Department of Chemistry. The second gift, a $500,000 donation from several of Pardue's former students, will fund the creation of the Harry Pardue Center for Advanced Instrumentation, a multidisciplinary research facility that will be located within existing university buildings.

"The analytical chemistry division is widely held to be the field's top graduate program in the United States," Purdue President Martin C. Jischke said. "These gifts will help Purdue maintain this preeminence and continue to attract the best students and professors."

Harry Pardue

Pardue, who has taught at Purdue since 1961, said the gifts would benefit the university and scientists everywhere.

"For more than 40 years, I have had the honor of working with some of the world's finest chemists to develop instruments that help scientists take accurate measurements," Pardue said. "My students have gone on to work for top hospitals, labs and companies across the country, and these two gifts will help ensure that the next generation of Purdue graduates will also possess the skills to do cutting-edge work."

Fortune, a longtime supporter of Purdue, is originally from Homesville, Ohio. He graduated from Mt. Union College and received his doctorate in chemistry from Purdue in 1936. He rose to become group vice president of Eli Lilly before his retirement in 1972.

"Had it not been for my graduate education at Purdue, I would not have had my rewarding career at Eli Lilly," Fortune said. "It is my hope that this endowed chair will continue to bring preeminent professors to Purdue, furthering progress in the field of analytical chemistry."

The Harry Pardue Center for Advanced Instrumentation will assist both students and faculty with analytical chemistry research, which involves refining the act of gathering data – something for which every scientist needs the right tools.

"Every scientific field – whether it involves ensuring the safety of food, testing the atmosphere for pollutants or hunting for chemical weapons – requires accurate measurement of the chemicals that are present in a sample," Pardue said. "About two-thirds of the foods and products in the U.S. requires chemical analyses – that's about 250 million analyses per day. Analytical chemistry has the responsibility of providing the instruments and methods for all these kinds of chemical analyses."

Pardue's students have gone on to work for such institutions as Hewlett-Packard, Pharmacia, Procter & Gamble, DuPont and Eli Lilly & Co. Many who have gone on to work in academia returned to present their own advances in analytical chemistry at a special symposium in the Stewart Center Auditorium on Thursday (9/19), the first day of Pardue's retirement celebration.

"Thursday's symposium was an excellent chance to discover just how much good our graduates go on to do for science and the community," Pardue said. "Some of the best work in the field was presented at the all-day symposium. I am proud to have been a part of these scientists' training."

Pardue said he also was proud to have been involved with a field which is, in many ways, the linchpin holding other scientific disciplines together.

"No scientific discipline can progress beyond the tools it has," he said. "The genome project, for example, had to wait for technology to advance far enough – a few years ago we could only dream about it. Analytical chemistry provides that technology. We've had a great group of chemists in the department here over the years who have supported the analytical group, and they are one of the chief reasons Purdue has risen to contribute so much to the work of scientists everywhere."

The analytical chemistry division conducts a variety of fundamental and applied research in areas as diverse as gas phase ion molecule reactions, separation of biological macromolecules, analytical immunology and electron transfer reactions. Four faculty members have won the American Chemical Society's Analytical Division Award in Chemical Instrumentation. Facility personnel have diverse backgrounds, from chemistry to electrical engineering and systems programming. The division currently has 12 faculty members and 111 graduate students.

The celebration is part of Discover Purdue Week, during which the university will unveil its fund-raising campaign. Events during the week will include homecoming, groundbreakings, Bill Cosby's campus show and Boilermaker football.

Writer: Chad Boutin, (765) 494-2081,

Sources: Bob Wild, (765) 494-5205,

Harry Pardue, (765) 494-5320,

Related Web sites:
Sept. 19 symposium schedule
Schedule for Sept. 20 presentations, "Adventures in Analytical Chemistry:"

W. Brooks Fortune, right, speaks with Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Graham Cooks, left, and Bob Wild, of the Department of Chemistry. Fortune was on the Purdue campus Friday (9/20) for the announcement of his $1.5 million deferred gift to create a distinguished professorship, the W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor in Analytical Chemistry. A second gift, $500,000 from former students of the retiring Harry Pardue, will fund the creation of the Harry Pardue Center for Advanced Instrumentation, a multidisciplinary research facility that will be located within existing university buildings. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

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