seal  Purdue News

October 27, 2003

Students in liberal arts, mechanical engineering to benefit

WL couple gives $3.3 million to Purdue scholarships

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In 1957, the Purdue University Board of Trustees voted to defer the fees of a young local man who suddenly had lost his father. The university's unexpected act of kindness changed a 14-year-old's life forever.

Jim and Marilynn Dammon

Forty-six years later that 14-year-old boy, Jim Dammon, and his wife, Marilynn, shared their motivation for giving $3.3 million to the Lafayette-West Lafayette community campaign, which is part of the overall $1.3 billion Campaign for Purdue. The deferred gift from this West Lafayette couple will be used to fund the Clarence E. Dammon Dean's Scholars Program in the School of Liberal Arts and H. William Bottomley Scholars Program in the School of Mechanical Engineering.

"We wanted to see our gift really have an impact at a place where it will be preserved and leveraged for the future," said Jim Dammon, who graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1966. "There are no greater places than universities because they are some of the world's most durable institutions. Also, this is in honor of our fathers, who were highly committed to Purdue."

The Clarence E. Dammon Dean's Scholars Program is named for Jim's father, who was a Purdue speech professor, registrar and director of admissions when he died. The Board of Trustees then waived the fees of Jim and his sister, Kathie Michels, who now lives in Prior Lake, Minn.

The H. William Bottomley Scholars Program is named for Marilynn Dammon's father, a 1943 mechanical engineering alumnus who died in 1991. Bottomley was a Sagamore of the Wabash recipient and retired from Duncan Electric as president in 1979.

Marilynn, who graduated from Purdue in 1968 and was honored in 2000 as a distinguished alumna in the School of Liberal Arts, said, "Both of our dads would have liked to have done something similar for Purdue, and we feel fortunate to be able to honor them and our schools, while helping students at the same time."

Purdue President Martin C. Jischke said, "The Dammons' estate gift is the largest to date for the community campaign. It's wonderful to see Purdue alumni in our own back yard rally behind this university. Their gifts will enable Purdue to continue supporting standout students in liberal arts and mechanical engineering."

Jim is vice president of engineering at Fairfield Manufacturing. The Dammons also own Kings Hill Stable, which Marilynn operates.

Marilynn helped establish THE CHAPS (Therapy, Health and Education through Children and Horses as Partners) therapeutic horseback riding program for individuals with disabilities. The former teacher also is active in the Duncan Community Hall. She also served as secretary for the Purdue Alumni Association and president of the School of Liberal Arts alumni group.

The Dean's Scholars Program, which began in 1976, selects approximately 40 incoming first-year liberal arts students, based on SAT scores, grades and recommendations from their high schools. Recipients receive a $1,000 stipend and the opportunity to assist faculty mentors with research. In recent years, Dean's Scholars students have directed dance productions to learn about dance therapy, studied communication between the elderly and health care providers, and researched infant development. Students report on their research at a School of Liberal Arts dinner during the spring semester.

"The Clarence E. Dammon Dean's Scholars Program will allow the school to invest in the very best and brightest liberal arts students through mechanisms such as expanding the program to include more first-year students, continuing the program through the sophomore year and increasing the amounts of the awards," said Toby Parcel, dean of the School of Liberal Arts.

The Bottomley Scholars' average award will be $5,000 and will be used to attract some of the nation's top undergraduate mechanical engineering students. The Dammons' gift also is part of the School of Mechanical Engineering's $128 million fund-raising campaign, which is raising private contributions for the construction of a new wing for the mechanical engineering building, renovations to existing facilities and expansion of the mechanical engineering faculty from the current 51 to 65, while adding eight endowed professorships in the process.

"The Dammons' gift will be used to fund scholarships that reward both outstanding academic talent and exemplary leadership," said E. Dan Hirleman, the William E. and Florence E. Perry Head of the School of Mechanical Engineering. "This seems particularly fitting, considering the contributions of the Dammon and Bottomley families to Purdue and the Greater Lafayette area,

"One critical element of the school's plan is to be the nation's leading mechanical engineering program, and we are expanding the number of scholarships from 170 in 2003 to 250 by 2007 to accomplish this goal."

Purdue's School of Mechanical Engineering is already among the best in the nation; the most recent U.S. News & World Report survey ranked both the graduate and undergraduate programs seventh nationally.

The Dammons will receive Purdue's Distinguished Pinnacle Award – a recognition of their philanthropic gift to the university. The pinnacle award is the university's highest honor.

The first major gift of the local, community-based portion of the $1.3 billion campaign was announced in August. The $1.3 billion campaign was announced last fall, and it will raise money to support efforts in increasing student scholarships, recruiting and retaining faculty, funding programs, centers and facilities, and purchasing equipment.

Joe Seaman, president of Bank One, and Linda Rohrman, community volunteer and philanthropist, are joint chairpersons for the local Campaign for Purdue.

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

Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708

Toby Parcel, (765) 494-3660,

E. Dan Hirleman, (765) 494-5688,

Jim and Marilynn Dammon, (765) 426-4404,

Carolyn Gery, associate vice president for development and executive director of President's Council, (765) 494-6902,

Murray Blackwelder, senior vice president for advancement, (765) 496-2144,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web sites:
University Development Office home page
Other campaign stories Seaman, Rohrman to lead Campaign for Purdue effort in Lafayette

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