seal  Purdue News

September 19, 2003

Purdue trustees confirm professorships

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue University Board of Trustees today (Friday, 9/19) approved three designated professorships.

Glenn Parker was named Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Arvind Varma was appointed the R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Charles Merkle was named the Reilly Professor of Engineering. All three are new faculty members at the West Lafayette campus.

"These three new additions to our faculty are great examples of the caliber of scholars we are attracting," said Provost Sally Mason. "These individuals have the potential to tremendously strengthen the research programs in their areas, as well as lead students in the classroom and laboratory."

Glenn Parker

Parker, who joined the political science department this fall, was previously a distinguished research professor at Florida State University and also served as the John Adams Professor of American Studies as a Fulbright Scholar in 1993-94. Parker is one of the nation's top scholars employing economic models to study Congress. He also is a former recipient of the prestigious American Political Science Association's Congressional Fellowship from 1972-73, and he has served as editor-in-chief of the Policy Studies Journal. He served on the National Elections Study Committee that designed the groundbreaking 1978 congressional elections study.

In addition to writing more than 60 articles and papers, Parker has authored seven books, including "Congress and the Rent-Seeking Society" and "Institutional Change, Discretion, and the Making of Modern Congress: An Economic Interpretation." His latest book, "Self-Policing in Politics: The Political Economy of Reputational Controls on Politicians," will be published next year. Parker also has received numerous teaching awards at Florida State.

He earned his bachelor's degree in 1968 at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and received his master's and doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1970 and 1973, respectively. He also studied at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan during the summers of 1970 and 1971.

Arvind Varma

Varma, who starts at Purdue Jan. 1, is a named professor of chemical engineering at University of Notre Dame, where he has served as a member of the faculty since 1975. He also is the director there of the Center for Molecularly Engineered Materials, which he founded in 2000. His expertise and research interests are in synthesis of advanced materials, and chemical and catalytic reaction engineering. He is the author of more than 225 research publications in these areas, as well as the author of three books and editor of two books. He also has served as founding editor of the Cambridge University Press Series in Chemical Engineering since 1996.

He was a senior research engineer at Union Carbide Corp. from 1973 to 1975. He has received numerous awards for his teaching and research, including the R.H. Wilhelm Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1993 and the Chemical Engineering Lectureship Award from the American Society for Engineering Education in 2000. He also has been named an honorary fellow for the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Varma graduated from Panjab University in India in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and earned his master's at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, in 1968. He received his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1972.

Charles Merkle

Merkle most recently was a named chair of computational mechanics at the University of Tennessee and has been the distinguished professor of mechanical engineering at Pennsylvania State University. A leader in the field of propulsion, his expertise includes modeling and computational analysis of rocket combustion instability, microwave thrusters, cavitating flows and the pulse detonation engine. He also served as the director of the Propulsion Engineering Research Center at Penn State.

Merkle also worked as a staff scientist at TRW Systems Inc. and as a senior research scientist at Flow Research Inc. He also serves on the editorial advisory board of Computers and Fluids, An International Journal, and is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

He earned his bachelor's degree in engineering science in 1962 at Case Institute of Technology, a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1966 and his doctorate in aerospace and mechanical studies from Princeton University in 1969.

The late R. Games Slayter, for whom the chemical engineering professorship is named, was an inventor and business executive in heating and insulation. He owned many design patents, including one of the first domestic oil heating furnaces in which the burner and heating plant were designed as an integral unit. He graduated with his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1921 from Purdue. Slayter Center for the Performing Arts was named for him.

The Reilly professorship is named for Vincent P. Reilly, a 1922 engineering alumnus who bequeathed approximately $4.5 million to Purdue to be used to promote excellence in engineering education. Reilly, who died in 1969, was founder of the Illinois Gear and Machine Co.

These designations bring the number of Purdue distinguished professors to 57 and named professors to 35.

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

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

Glenn Parker, (765) 494-4161,

Arvind Varma, (574) 631-6491,

Charles Merkle, (765) 494-2689,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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