Purdue News

October 10, 2005

Purdue alumni couple honored for establishing scholarships

Mary K. "Kitty"
and Ken C. Decker

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Two Purdue alumni were recognized by President Martin C. Jischke for their support of a variety of scholarships and other university programs during a noon luncheon on Monday (Oct. 10) at the Dick and Sandy Dauch Alumni Center.

Ken C. and Mary K. "Kitty" Decker of Lafayette have established scholarships for Purdue students in many areas. Their lifetime giving to Purdue is more than $1 million, of which $1.18 million is deferred and more than $140,000 is outright.

"At Purdue, we always appreciate alumni who give back to the university," Jischke said. "But we especially like to show our appreciation for those who give back to areas that will directly impact students.

"Ken and Kitty Decker, by establishing scholarships in a number of disciplines, have assured that future Purdue students will be given the chance to have the same excellent education that has helped make the Decker family so successful."

Ken Decker graduated from Purdue in 1964 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and received a law degree from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. He is a patent attorney who does consulting work.

Kitty Decker received a bachelor's degree in 1967 from the College of Consumer and Family Sciences. She earned a master's degree in education from Purdue in 1973. She taught home economics for many years in South Bend, Ind., middle and high schools and is involved with 4-H judging.

In 2001 Ken and Kitty Decker, along with members of Kitty's family, established the Watts Family Scholarship in the College of Consumer and Family Sciences in honor of Kitty's parents, Stan and Laura Watts.

"This scholarship recognizes my parents, who always emphasized the importance of a good education," she said. "Consumer and family sciences have always been a major part of our family. My mother was involved with 4-H for many years, and my father was a longtime Purdue Extension agent.

"My mother attended Purdue, and my father graduated from there with a degree in agriculture. And four out of their five children also received Purdue degrees – two of them receiving a degree in CFS – so there's always been a strong family connection."

In 2004 the Deckers established an endowment for the Decker Family Scholarship in Education. It was created to honor four generations of Decker educators who have taught in Indiana, including Mary Decker Cable, Ken's sister, a 1965 graduate of Purdue's College of Education; Kitty Decker; and Kathryn Decker Bradshaw, Ken and Kitty's daughter, a 1999 graduate of Purdue's College of Education who is a first-grade teacher with Indianapolis Public Schools.

"We have always felt strongly about supporting education, and we especially wanted to do something for Purdue's College of Education, which is a lesser-known Indiana gem," Ken Decker said.

The Deckers established the Decker Family Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering earlier this year. Ken Decker said they created that scholarship because of the excellent education he received as a mechanical engineering student.

"I always tell people that the Purdue engineering program was the hardest thing I'd ever done in my life," he said. "When I attended law school, it was easy compared to Purdue. The rigorous program at Purdue did a wonderful job of preparing me for my career as a patent attorney, and we wanted to give other students the chance to experience the same kind of education."

Also this year, the Deckers established an endowment for the creation of the Havel/Decker Scholarship in Biomedical Engineering. It honors Ken and Kitty's daughter Emalee, who received bachelor's degrees from Purdue in biochemistry and agricultural and biological engineering, and their son-in-law, William "Bill" Havel, who received bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from Purdue's electrical engineering program.

William is a research scientist with Medtronic, a medical device company in the Minneapolis area. Emalee is a technical service engineer for Genecor, a biotechnology company.

The Deckers also have contributed to the Purdue Alumni Association, Purdue Musical Organizations, the Purdue Cancer Center, Purdue Convocations, the College of Agriculture, the School of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, the College of Education, and the School of Biomedical Engineering.

"We really enjoy supporting Purdue because our educations from there are the basis for everything we have and how we live our lives," Kitty Decker said. "And both Ken and I have such strong family ties to Purdue that it makes sense to support the university as much as we possibly can."

The event is part of a two-week celebration leading up to Purdue's Oct. 15 Homecoming that focus on ways Purdue is improving education and helping the state of Indiana as part of the university's strategic plan and $1.5 billion fund-raising campaign.

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998, kmedaris@purdue.edu

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

Murray Blackwelder, senior vice president for advancement, (765) 496-2144, mblackwelder@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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