On a university campus, almost any topic is fair game for debate, but there is one indisputable fact about higher education: The quality of an institution is linked directly to the caliber of the faculty and staff it is able to recruit and retain.
In this "people business," Purdue has been blessed throughout its history with professors and administrators who have won national recognition for leadership in their professional and scholarly fields, but who have maintained deep loyalties to Purdue and its students. Although the competition for outstanding performers grows ever more intense, we have been able to make some wonderful additions to the University team in recent weeks.
On June 2, Thomas B. Robinson, a vice chancellor at the University of Massachusetts, accepted an appointment as Purdue vice president for student services. Tom is a seasoned administrator, who has performed with distinction at a number of public and private institutions. At Purdue, he will have broad responsibilities over an administrative area that comprises admissions, the registrar, the dean of students, financial aid, recreational sports, career and employment services, the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, Convocations and Lectures, Purdue Musical Organizations, University Bands, and the Student Health Center.
He will join the Purdue team in mid-August after finishing up his duties at UMass.
At the beginning of July, Alysa C. Rollock will start her duties as interim vice president for human relations. Alysa, an experienced attorney and a member of the law school faculty at Indiana University in Bloomington, will take over a relatively new administrative area that includes Affirmative Action, the Women's Resource Office, the Relocation Assistance Program, and the Diversity Resource Office.
The Human Relations Office was established in 1991, and Alysa's first responsibilities will include evaluating its impact on the University to date and setting priorities for the future.
Another recent appointment gives new leadership to Purdue's Cancer Center. Its new director is Dr. Richard F. Borch, who is head of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and also is the Lilly Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. He is one of those rare individuals who is a brilliant researcher, a skilled teacher, and a gifted administrator. His research focuses on the development of new drugs to treat cancer.
People like Dr. Borch have an impact on the University that goes far beyond their own work. Their presence attracts other faculty members and top-notch students who want to study with them. They also account for significant research dollars that help pay for salaries and operational expenses. Unfortunately, the national competition for the very best faculty increases constantly, and this challenges our ability to secure the resources we need to maintain quality.
Just three years ago, Purdue began to talk about changes to its North Golf Course, because the state and the city of West Lafayette had developed plans to widen a road that passes through the course. As a part of the University's intercollegiate athletic enterprises, the two golf courses are self-supporting and receive no state funds or student fee revenue.
The necessary changes to the layout proved serendipitous when world-famous designer Pete Dye visited the campus and offered to donate his fee if Purdue would raise the funds needed to rebuild the North Course. Events since that first visit have been almost breathtaking in speed and scope. Athletic Director Morgan Burke led an effort that turned a vision into a reality very quickly. On June 17, we held the inaugural event on the new Dye-designed course, now renamed the Kampen Course in honor of our late trustee Emerson Kampen and his family. We also celebrated the renaming of the former South Golf Course as Ackerman Hills, in honor of Jim and Lois Ackerman of Indianapolis. Finally, the entire complex of golf facilities was renamed the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex for Mike and Kay Birck. Each of the families made significant contributions that made the transformation possible.
The Ackerman Hills course has been significantly upgraded with a new irrigation system and major landscaping improvements. The Kampen Course simply is spectacular. It will be a challenging and worthy venue for any competitive event played there.
Perhaps the best part of the story is that in meeting the challenge of completing this project, Purdue intercollegiate athletics and the School of Agriculture formed a new partnership. The new Bill Daniel Turfgrass Research Center will use the golf complex as a living laboratory for teaching and research. Students played a significant role in creating the new layout, a development that delighted Pete Dye. Also significant is the fact that Pete designed the new course with great sensitivity to the environment, so nearby wetlands and wooded areas will benefit from the change.
The Kampen Course opened to the public on June 27. Those of us who have played or toured it are convinced that Purdue now has one of the best collegiate golf environments in the country.