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July 2, 2003

Rodwell leaves a legacy, but not without recognition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's faculty lacks diversity, says one professor, and for 23 years he directed a program to bring more minority students to Purdue and encouraging them to consider careers in higher education.

This innovative idea and the program's success led to Victor Rodwell being named a recipient of the university's One Brick Higher Award. The award goes to individuals who make a difference in the lives of students and faculty by going beyond their required role.

Victor Rodwell

"Dr. Rodwell's work has made Purdue a place of increased diversity and an environment in which people are valued for what they know and can do, regardless of their ethnic heritage," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke.

Rodwell, a professor of biochemistry, became director of the Minority Access to Research Careers and Access Internally for Minorities (MARC/AIM) in 1981, a year after the program's inception.

The program has hosted more than 750 participants for eight weeks of research in the summer. This summer 29 undergraduate students from across the United States are on Purdue's campus to work on research projects in their major fields of study.

While minority students benefit from undertaking research, the program also encourages participants to continue their education in graduate school at Purdue or another university. With an advanced degree, they could then become employed by a university, diversifying the faculty. Rodwell said Purdue and other universities need to diversify their faculty with qualified minority individuals, and that this program is a way to begin.

Rodwell's work has been acknowledged not only by the committee that awards the One Brick Higher Award, but also by Purdue's faculty.

One of the award nominators wrote: "Vic's willingness to serve the university and the greater cause of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in graduate research programs without additional pay speaks volumes of his dedication to do good work for students and Purdue."

As Rodwell received his award, the audience gave him a standing ovation. The display of respect and appreciation for his work were what he appreciated most, he said.

Rodwell retired in December, and Ron Coolbaugh has assumed the position. Rodwell said Coolbaugh, a professor of botany, was an ideal replacement.

"I saw an opportunity to turn the program over to someone who could continue to improve it," he said.

Coolbaugh said, "If I can do as well as Dr. Rodwell, I will be very happy. He has left a big pair of shoes to fill."

More than half the participants in MARC/AIM have entered graduate programs. Sixty-two received a doctorate; 51 earned M.D., D.D.S. and D.V.M. degrees; 130 obtained master's degrees; and another 160 are currently enrolled in graduate schools.

Writer: Michelle Betz, (765) 494-8402, agnews-stories@purdue.edu

Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708, president-jischke@purdue.edu

Ron Coolbaugh, (765) 494-9902, coolbaugh@purdue.edu

Victor Rodwell, (765) 494-1608, vrodwell@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

Related Web site:
Purdue MARC/AIM Summer Research Program: http://www.biochem.purdue.edu/marc_aim/maim.htm


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