September was my first full month in office at Purdue, and things really moved into overdrive. Patty and I absorbed many impressions about the University and about the state we now call home.
Here are my thoughts on some of the people, places, and things we encountered in the past few weeks:
Purdue students: I mentioned in last month's letter that the new freshman class is exceptionally well-prepared from an academic perspective. As a group, the students I have met are very intelligent, enthusiastic, committed to academics, and interested in important issues.
I have had several meetings with Purdue Student Government and other groups, and in each case I have been challenged and stimulated by the young people I've met. Every Monday night, about 30 freshmen come to our home to participate in a program called the President's Leadership Class. We instituted this idea successfully at Iowa State University as a way to develop new leaders and to give ourselves the opportunity to interact with students in a meaningful way. I wish everyone could have Pattys and my experience of talking to this diverse and intelligent group of young men and women. For me it's a great reminder of why I chose to become an educator, and it fills me with optimism about the future. I have no doubt that universities like Purdue are preparing a generation of outstanding leaders who will be equal to whatever challenges come along.
Purdue faculty: The University's international reputation for excellence is built on the quality of the faculty, and everything I have seen supports the consensus that Purdue is a great center of education. Senior professors and younger members of the faculty alike have a healthy perspective on Purdue's three-part mission as a land-grant institution. They are committed to teaching and to the welfare of students; they are enthusiastic about the discovery of new knowledge through research; and they recognize their responsibility to engage and serve the people of Indiana in a variety of ways, including the transfer of knowledge to the marketplace and society.
I have found the University staff from senior administrators to hands-on workers to be just as dedicated as the faculty. Our people care about students and about the quality of their work.
This attitude leads to a high rate of return on the money invested in Purdue by the state, our donors, our students, and others who support the University.
Boilermaker football: A lot of fun! Patty and I would say the same thing about Purdue volleyball and soccer, which we also have attended. We hope to get to every sport as often as possible, and we can't wait for basketball season!
The people of Indiana: We have been welcomed with warmth and sincerity that is truly moving. I plan to get to as many places as possible in my first year. So far, I have been to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, the Lake County region, and Vincennes. At every stop I have met people who are excited about the future and eager to work hard to make it better.
The good decision I made in May to come to Purdue is looking better every day. I think the University is in a position to lead the state to a new level of prosperity and success. I am very happy and excited about being part of that effort.