Daniels' report to trustees focuses on institutional excellence

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - President Mitch Daniels began a new series of governance reports to the Purdue Board of Trustees on Friday (Feb. 21) with a look at institutional excellence. The report was the first of a series that will focus each meeting on one of the five areas of accountability chosen by the board and around which the president's contract is based.

In April, the president will discuss fundraising; in May, he will discuss affordability, efficiency and student debt; in September, he will discuss student intellectual growth and achievement; and in December, he will discuss student success.

In addition to Daniels' report, each meeting will feature updates on initiatives that are part of Purdue Moves and a report from an academic area.

In Fridays report, Daniels previewed some preliminary themes recommended by a faculty committee on institutional excellence, including faculty members' recent awards and honors, their entrepreneurial activities and research productivity; and trends in admissions, including the percentage of top high school students who choose to attend Purdue.

The number of Purdue faculty members who have received notable awards is encouraging, Daniels said. For example, more than 100 have won major early-career awards, and of those, 20 received their awards during 2013-14. In addition, 66 Purdue faculty members are fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 12 of whom received the honor this academic year.

Faculty members' entrepreneurial activities also should be noted, Daniels said. For example, so far this fiscal year, faculty members have submitted 223 patent applications. The number of patent applications has increased steadily during the past six months.

Another indicator is the value of faculty members' research awards. So far this fiscal year, faculty members have received about $231 million in research awards. That approaches the value of awards received between the same periods in fiscal year 2011 - the most lucrative year in the past 10.

In the area of admissions, applications to Purdue have increased overall by 31 percent over last year. Some of that increase can be attributed to Purdue's recent acceptance of a nationwide common application. Specifically, domestic, out-of-state applications have increased 52 percent, which Daniels said is a rough indicator of Purdue's rising national reputation.

Additionally, the number of resident and nonresident students who scored in the top 5 percent on the ACT or SAT has increased. Since fall 2009, that number as a percentage of the freshman class has risen more than 10 percentage points, to 31.5 percent.

Presenting to trustees about Purdue's focus on investing in drug discovery were Philip Low, the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and Timothy Ratliff, professor of comparative pathobiology and the Robert Wallace Miller Director of the Center for Cancer Research. Presenting about advancing plant science research were Jay Akridge, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture, and Karen Plaut, senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs in the College of Agriculture.

By investing in drug discovery, Purdue's researchers will be able to accelerate the rate at which they can move their work from the lab to commercialization and on to those who need it most, Low and Ratliff said.

By advancing plant science research, Akridge and Plaut said Purdue's scientists will lead the world in translating their research to commercially important crops and eventually moving products through a pipeline for commercialization.

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