sealPurdue News

October 28, 2002

Purdue to reorganize research efforts, graduate school

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue Provost Sally Frost Mason today (Monday, 10/28) announced she is reorganizing the university’s research and graduate school programs to help achieve the institution’s strategic goals.

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Charles O. Rutledge, executive director of Purdue's Discovery Park, will assume additional duties as interim vice provost for research. Professor John J. Contreni, former head of the Department of History, will become interim dean of the Graduate School.

Gary E. Isom, who currently serves as both vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, will return to his full-time faculty position in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Mason said.

"Dividing the research and graduate education functions under separate administrators during the interim period will allow us to better assess our current situation and set a clear course for the future," Mason said. "Whether these functions should be unified or distinct from one another is a decision we will make as part of the assessment process.

"Gary Isom has served the University well as vice president and dean since 1999, and he has decided this is the right time for him to resume his academic pursuits on a full-time basis. I am very grateful for his years of service and his assistance with this reorganization."

Purdue’s strategic plan calls for increasing the university’s capacity in interdisciplinary discovery efforts aligned with needs of Indiana and the nation. For fiscal 2001-02, Purdue's research expenditures exceeded $320 million. Purdue-led research, in turn, translates into Indiana jobs – 10,906 statewide for fiscal year 2000 (the last year for which figures are available) when Purdue's total made up more than one-half of all the state's research and development expenditures by doctoral-granting institutions.

There are more than 400 research laboratories on the West Lafayette campus, where the Graduate School enrolls more than 6,000 students.

"Based on a preliminary assessment by an outside consultant, it is clear that we have considerable work ahead of us if we are to achieve our goal of creating the best possible research environment for our faculty and students," Mason said.

"It is also clear that we will likely need to be making substantial changes to our operations. While it will take some time to completely evaluate this and for an internal task force to develop an implementation plan, we feel we must move forward expeditiously so we can reach the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves in the university's strategic plan."

All those individuals who currently report to Isom in his role as vice president for research will now report to Rutledge, with one exception: The Office of Technology Commercialization will report to Joseph Hornett, senior vice president and treasurer of the Purdue Research Foundation.

Mason said these changes will remain in place until the research infrastructure study is complete.

"Then the implementation plan developed from the study will guide us in making further adjustments," Mason said. "Searches will be conducted to fill the appropriate administrative positions."

Rutledge was named the director of the university's new $100 million Discovery Park last fall and continued to serve as dean of the Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences until John M. Pezutto relieved him of deanship job this fall.

"Rutledge is the ideal person to serve in the interim," Mason said. "He is a top researcher, and he has the excellent leadership and management skills needed for the job."

Rutledge, who had been dean since coming to Purdue in 1987, holds a doctorate in pharmacology from Harvard University and a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy from the University of Kansas.

He came to Purdue from the University of Kansas, where he was professor and chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the School of Pharmacy from 1975-87. While at Kansas, he also was associate director of the Center for Biomedical Research and held a joint position as professor of pharmacology at the Victoria College of Pharmacy in Victoria, Australia. He began his career as a faculty member at the University of Colorado's Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine.

Rutledge has served as president of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. He is a member of numerous professional organizations and a fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

Contreni served as assistant dean of the then School of Humanities, Social Science and Education (now the School of Liberal Arts) from 1981-85, as interim head of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures from 1983-85 and as head of Department of History from 1985-97. He currently serves on the university promotions committee.

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After serving as department head, he returned full-time to teaching and research in his specialty, medieval history and culture. The winner of numerous teaching awards, he was among the 225 faculty, past and present, chosen for the inaugural installment of the Purdue "Book of Great Teachers" in 1999. All were nominated by students and alumni.

He received his bachelor's degree in history from St. Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa., and his master's degree and doctorate from Michigan State University. He joined Purdue's Department of History in 1971.

Isom, who has served as vice president since May 1999, will resume as a professor of toxicology. A native of Twin Falls, Idaho, he came to Purdue in 1980 as an associate professor of toxicology. Before that he taught at Idaho State and Washington State universities. From 1987-95, he was director of the Division of Sponsored Programs.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Publication-quality photographs of Charles O. Rutledge, John J. Contreni, Gary E. Isom and Sally Frost Mason are available at They are called rutledge.c.jpeg, contreni.j.jpeg, mason.sally.frost.jpeg, and isom.g.jpeg.

Sources: Sally Frost Mason, (765) 494-9709,

Charles O. Rutledge, (765) 494-1368,

John J. Contreni (765) 494-8373,

Gary Isom, (765) 494-6200,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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