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Oct. 22, 2003

Purdue's academic environment best among U.S. universities, says 'The Scientist'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University has the best university work environment in the country, according to a survey of researchers in the current (10/20) issue of "The Scientist" magazine.

According to the responses of approximately 2,200 tenured faculty at U.S. institutions, Purdue offers its faculty the best combination of research support, infrastructure and other benefits. Among 130 institutions ranked, only the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia exceeded the university’s merits, making Purdue the top-ranked academic work environment at any U.S. university.

"The best science starts with the best scientists, and this survey confirms that our strategic plan is positioning Purdue to be highly competitive for the nation's most creative and dedicated people," said Martin C. Jischke, Purdue president. "Purdue has demonstrated that it is committed to recruiting the top people in the scientific disciplines, which will be critical for new discovery in an increasingly commingled and interdisciplinary research world."

Jischke said Purdue’s ranking also bodes well for the state of Indiana.

"Purdue’s reputation will make it a magnet for creative vitality," he said. "That will translate into economic growth for the state."

Among many factors contributing to the ranking, the article cited Purdue’s commitment to hire 300 additional faculty between 2001-2006 and its construction of Discovery Park, a $126 million interdisciplinary research facility.

"While many universities are taking a defensive posture in light of the current economic climate, Purdue is expanding both its faculty and its facilities," said Charles O. Rutledge, executive director for Discovery Park and interim vice provost for research. "Purdue’s goal is to lead the way to new technologies and high-paying jobs by investing in the future, and providing the best minds with the best work environment is one of the best ways to jump-start the process."

"The Scientist" publisher Alexander M. "Sandy" Grimwade said that the survey was conducted to provide a service for researchers.

"Our magazine attempts to report not only on science itself, but also on the business of being a scientist," he said. "We are planning on making this an annual event."

Grimwade said the magazine sent a 56-question survey to more than 38,000 tenured researchers in the United States and abroad, asking the scientists about the quality of the work environment where they were employed. The questions fell into 12 categories, addressing such issues as pay and benefits, collegiality, infrastructure and research support. Questions about the institution took the form of positive statements, with which the respondents could agree or disagree. From the survey, the magazine developed articles about the best places to work both in the United States and overseas.

"We decided to consider the U.S. separately because it has a substantially different academic system than the rest of the world," Grimwade said. "Because the tenure process, for example, is conducted differently overseas than it is here, we felt it best to evaluate U.S. institutions on their own terms."

From the 2,200 respondents, the magazine received sufficient data to rank 130 U.S. institutions. Purdue was the second-best place to work overall and first in salary fairness decisions within the United States.

The next five institutions by survey rank were Yale University, the University of California-San Francisco, the University of Minnesota, Cornell University and the National Cancer Institute.

"The Scientist," which appears every two weeks, has a circulation of about 75,000 print copies and receives about 500,000 Web site visits per month. According to its mission statement, it is an international news magazine that reports on and analyzes the issues and events that affect the world of life scientists. It aims to provide a unifying forum for discussion of topics that drive scientific progress.

Note to Journalists: Information on the survey is available at URLs listed below release text.

Writer: Chad Boutin, (765) 494-2081, cboutin@purdue.edu

Sources: Martin Jischke, (765) 494-9708

Charles Rutledge, (765) 494-7766, chipr@purdue.edu

Sandy Grimwade, (215) 386-9601 x3020, agrimwade@the-scientist.com

Related Web sites:

Purdue University Home Page: http://www.purdue.edu

Article in The Scientist: http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2003/oct/feature1_031020.html

Details of survey methodology: http://www.the-scientist.com/academia/academia.htm

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu
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