* Purdue's new president 'out of this world'

June 25, 2007

New Purdue president making first public appearance at Indiana Black Expo

France A. Córdova
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France A. Córdova will make her first major public appearance as Purdue University's 11th president in July during the Indiana Black Expo in Indianapolis.

Córdova, who is Purdue president-designate, will begin her term as president July 16. She will attend a corporate lunch at the Expo on July 19, and the next day she will be the keynote speaker at the Expo's Youth Summit as part of Purdue Day at the Expo, which Purdue has sponsored for each of the past three years. An estimated 250 young people from across the state are expected to participate in the three-day summit.

The Black Expo runs July 12-22 at the Indiana Convention Center. Purdue plans two sets of booths in the Grand Exhibit Hall:

* For Children's Day, July 16, Purdue will offer five interactive booths 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., sponsored by the colleges or schools representing management, technology, civil engineering, agriculture and education.

* On July 20-22, Purdue again will staff a major exhibit booth at the Expo, where representatives from across its West Lafayette campus will be on hand.

 "Our partnership with Indiana Black Expo is part of Purdue's commitment to being a diverse university community," said Joseph L. Bennett, vice president for university relations. "We want to interact with potential students and employees, business partners and community leaders. We want to listen to their ideas and explore ways we can work together."

Purdue, which has been part of the Expo for several years, actively promotes diversity systemwide, he said, and has added programs in the past seven years.

Mosaic is an initiative unveiled this spring after two years of planning. Its key priorities call on all areas of the university to participate in many ways. A few examples include:

* Ongoing searches, which are being conducted for qualified members of underrepresented populations for senior-level and key leadership appointments.

* A promotion system that is being developed that gives non-faculty employees equitable opportunities with a goal to advance diversity.

* A Native American Education and Cultural Center that will be established this academic year, complementing the existing Black Cultural Center and Latino Cultural Center.

*  This year, the first group of students to graduate from Science Bound will enroll at Purdue. The university sponsors Science Bound in partnership with the Indianapolis Public Schools. The program's graduates will start attending Purdue with full scholarships to pursue degrees in science, technology, agriculture, engineering or math-science education. Twenty-five of the 30 students who completed the program will enroll at Purdue this fall. Science Bound offers mentorship and enhanced science-related learning opportunities for high school students. Approximately 250 additional students are enrolled in the program.

* Purdue's Office of Supplier Diversity Development, which was established in 2005 to encourage and assist minority-owned and women-owned businesses to supply goods or services to Purdue. Eight major area employers were brought together in November, with 398 of the people in those businesses participating in two-day relationship-building activities.

Of the money spent by Purdue last year, these businesses received 13 percent for construction, 5.8 percent for procurement, and 23 percent for architectural and engineering services. The recently announced design phase of the university's Mackey Arena renovation and expansion project is expected to involve 45 percent women and minority-owned firms.

 Minority-owned Smoot Construction of Indianapolis is building one of Purdue's new buildings, Neil Armstrong Hall. It will house the College of Engineering's minority programs, Engineering Education, the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and School of Materials Engineering.

Córdova is coming to Purdue from the University of California, Riverside, where she has been chancellor and a distinguished professor, teaching astrobiology. Previously, she served as the vice chancellor for research and a professor of physics at University of California at Santa Barbara.

Before that, she was the first woman and youngest person to hold the position of NASA chief scientist, working on projects that included the Hubble Space Telescope. Córdova spent the next decade at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a member of the Space Astronomy and Astrophysics Group. She then joined Penn State University to head the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

In 1969, she was the award-winning author of a short work, "The Women of Santo Domingo," based on her anthropologic field work in a Zapotec Indian pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico, and a Zapotec Indian cookbook. Córdova was named one of "America's 100 Brightest Scientists Under 40" by Science Digest magazine and one of the "100 Most Influential Hispanics" by Hispanic Business Magazine, which also recognized her with the Hispanic Achievement Award in Science and Technology.

The oldest of 12 children, Córdova was born in Paris and also lived in Germany, where her father served as the Chief of Missions for CARE, a U.S. relief organization. She graduated from high school in La Puente, Calif., east of Los Angeles, and graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in English from Stanford University and has a doctorate in physics from the California Institute of Technology.

Contact: David Kitchell, (765) 496-9711,

Source: Joseph L. Bennett, (765) 494-2082,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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