In the early 1900s, British writer Israel Zangwill
coined the term the “melting pot” to describe what was
happening in the United States when nearly 1 million immigrants
a year were entering the country. Now, after years of decline, immigration
has been rising steadily over the last two decades and is again
approaching the levels of the early 20th century.
Indiana is just one of the states that has seen
a substantial growth in ethnic diversity. In addition to new immigrants,
we also have a sizeable foreign-born population of visitors who
have come here to work or study for a period of from just a few
months to several years.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the Purdue
University campus. Between 1990 and 2000, the university experienced
a 200-percent increase in undergraduate international student enrollment;
Purdue now has among the largest international student populations
of any college or university in the United States. Purdue Agriculture
has played a pivotal role in establishing this international community
of scholarship and cultural exchange through research, teaching
Our faculty are involved in international research
projects in food production, agriculture and natural resources for
the benefit of people around the world. These endeavors encompass
a swine nutrition-training program in China, water resources management
in the Middle East and sustainable agriculture in Africa, among
many other exciting projects.
Academic programs abroad start with Indiana high
school students through 4-H exchange programs. At the undergraduate
level, Purdue Agriculture majors choose from long- and short-term
programs in 21 countries. Fifteen percent of our graduating students
have studied abroad, the highest percentage of any school at Purdue.
Our goal is to see this number continue to grow over the next few
We also are focusing efforts on our faculty,
staff and students. This year, we hired a coordinator of multicultural
programs to help broaden the ethnic diversity of our student body
and increase diversity awareness among our faculty and staff.
Around the state, we are providing educational
programs for Indiana’s growing multicultural population. International
Extension, a collaborative effort between Purdue Extension and International
Programs in Agriculture, enables us to better serve an ethnically
diverse citizenship. We are seeing some of the earliest impact of
this through programs that aid Indiana’s Hispanic population.
Many of the initiatives that I’ve talked
about are profiled in this issue of Agricultures magazine. They
are the foundation upon which we will continue to build bridges
with both our new neighbors here at home and with a broader, global
Victor L. Lechtenberg
Dean of Agriculture