Those of you who have attended the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry know that it is a fantastic event. Pulling 1,500 to 2,000 of our alumni and loyal supporters together for a meal and fellowship creates an environment that validates in an uplifting way everything we are about: great students, path-breaking research, and impactful Extension/engagement. Despite really miserable weather last Saturday, we still had a crowd of more than 1,000 – just amazing!
Donya Lester, Executive Secretary of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association, puts on an amazing show, supported by an army of volunteers – Purdue Agriculture faculty, staff, and students and others who support our College. The annual Ag Forecast before the Fish Fry typically features Purdue Agriculture faculty and staff focused on purpose-driven research. This year, Scott Jackson, Agronomy, Sylvie Brouder, Agronomy, and Jim Mintert, Assistant Director of Purdue Extension, with Associate Dean Chuck Hibberd as moderator, helped the group better understand how research has, and will in the future, move from the lab to the field. Scott, Sylvie, Jim and Chuck did a great job of illustrating exactly what our vision statement–‘research with purpose leading to discovery with impact'–means.
Normally, we look outside Purdue for our keynote speaker at the Fish Fry, but this year we decided to feature our own celebrities – World Food Prize Laureates Dr. Phil Nelson and Dr. Gebisa Ejeta. You all know their stories, so I won’t repeat them here. As I listened to them speak, I was reminded what a difference a simple message of encouragement can make. Both men recounted moments when their major professor (Ejeta) or an Extension Specialist (Nelson) took a moment to pull them aside and say ‘you have potential’. Kind of amazing, the impact such a simple act can have in shaping someone’s life....
Thanks for all the small things you do daily to encourage, support, and yes, challenge our students and stakeholders. You never know what that simple act may inspire.
All the best,
Update on the budget situation from Dean Jay Akridge
Discussions continue on how to best address our Purdue budget situation, but some parts of the strategy are becoming final. As you know, we have two issues. The first problem is the $45m rescission the state announced for Purdue in December. This is money the state allocated to us for 2009-11, but now wants back. Purdue will find the first third of that money (the part due by June 30) through the hiring delay announced earlier, and through savings in energy purchasing and use. (Our College was asked to delay 8 faculty searches until next year as part of this process, and we were allowed to continue 9 faculty/administrator searches this year.) The plan to find the other two-thirds of the money is to delay some non-critical repair/rehabilitation projects and through the early savings from ‘recurring’ cuts. More on the ‘recurring' cuts below.
The second problem is the $30m structural deficit. As opposed to the $45m rescission I talked about above, which is a one-time, non-recurring cut, the ‘structural deficit’ is recurring and gets larger every year. So we have to find ‘recurring’ ways of addressing the problem. Nothing has been finalized on this yet, but several ideas are being considered:
1) Energy: it is almost certain that savings from energy purchasing and conservation will be a part of the strategy. 2) Information Technology: More on this in another InFocus article below, but the strategy includes at least $10m in savings from IT. 3) Administrative Efficiencies: A group led by Ken Sandel is evaluating the more than 800 suggestions provided by Purdue faculty, staff, and students. Areas where cost savings will likely be found include purchasing. 4) Compensation: There is still much discussion about how this will be handled. But, given the fact that compensation costs are as much as 80% of our general fund dollars, the strategy will have to address compensation. If you attended the January President’s Forum, you heard about a compensation ‘re-balancing’ idea: trading some benefits, mainly retirement, for more take-home pay.
There are many, many details to be addressed and a group of faculty and administrators is working through the issues. The Board of Trustees meeting this week may bring some additional clarity as ultimately compensation is their decision.
I have received suggestions and ideas from many of you. They are helpful in my role on the Sustaining New Synergies Committee. I will continue to keep you posted as news becomes available. You have heard this many times before, but it is true: despite the budget pressure, we are in far better shape than many of our peers. That said, we still have hard choices to make as a College to address this challenge. I am very confident we will make the choices that best support our faculty, staff, and students and allow us to serve our stakeholders at the highest possible level. Thanks for your ideas and your patience as we work through this difficult time.
Report from Dean Jay Akridge: IT Review providing important answers
Information Technology is an area that has been targeted for cost savings over the next three years. The target is about $10m annually. These numbers are big, but Purdue is a huge and complex organization and these numbers reflect its heavy investment in IT. Most of us think of IT as the person who helps us locally when our computer has a problem. But the vast majority of IT resources are dedicated to business, administrative, back office functions – payroll, student registration, business services, purchasing, etc. The point here is that IT is big and IT is much more than your local support person, so there are a lot of areas to look for savings.
A group reviewed six campus-level IT areas late last fall and early this year: 1) IT organizational structure, 2) data centers, 3) student computer labs, 4) e-mail, 5) desktop support and 6) One Student, One Record. If you are interested, you can read the reports here (log in with your Purdue ID and password). A task force (of which Pat Smoker is a member) led by Chief Information Officer Gerry McCartney is reviewing these reports and will develop a proposal for the President by April 1.
The IT Organizational Structure report referenced above is currently the only one that makes recommendations for changes in the organizational structure. Specifically, it recommends that existing administrative IT organizations “only” (e.g. Physical Facilities, Housing & Food Services, ITaP, etc.) be consolidated to report directly to the Office of the Vice President of Information Technology (OVPIT). The report further recommends that “…each dean of each academic unit consolidate the IT organizations in each College into a single organization, with all IT staff solid line reporting through a College IT director, and with a director reporting in a solid line arrangement to the dean of the college or their designee….”
Although the consolidation of academic IT organizations within their respective college/school-level units may seem like a significant change, it should be noted that there are only two colleges on campus that are not already organized in this fashion (Agriculture and Science). It is also important to point out that the report in no way suggests that departmental IT personnel be pulled out of their respective units.
We have a College committee charged with looking at our own IT services, and we started the process before the campus review was complete. The message/charge to our College group was clear: is there a better way to organize our IT services so that ‘commodity computing’ can be centralized, while we provide high quality local services tailored to individual user needs? This is the same question CIO McCartney posed for the campus at a meeting of the Deans. I am keenly aware of the importance of IT to our College. We invest a lot of money in IT, as we should. I am hopeful that our review will give us some insight into how some of those dollars may be better spent. Again, we will keep you posted as this effort moves forward.
Finalists named for Agronomy Department Head Position
Two candidates have been invited to interview for the Agronomy Department Head position. Each candidate will present a public seminar. They are scheduled as follows:
Stephen Herbert, University of Wyoming
Francis Pierce, Washington State University
The seminars will be streamed and archived for viewing by Purdue faculty and staff via the following site: http://www.ag.purdue.edu/agry/Pages/search.aspx).
Interactive map highlights Purdue's presence in each county
Finding Purdue University resources in any Indiana county is now quick and easy thanks to a new interactive Web site.
At the site, found at http://www.tap.purdue.edu/engagement, clicking on any of Indiana's 92 counties will provide a list of local resources from Purdue. The Web site highlights Purdue's county-by-county efforts in innovation, economic development, and agricultural and scientific research.
Pre-Award Center open for business
The Ag/Vet/CFS Pre-Award Center is open for proposal submission. All proposal activity for the College of Agriculture should be delivered to LYNN Hall, Room G193A effective immediately. You may contact the Pre-award office by email (email@example.com), by visiting the office in Lynn Hall Room G193A, or by contacting any of the Ag/Vet/CFS Pre-Award Personnel:
We are excited about this new service for our faculty and staff that will provide the administrative support to help them succeed. Please contact Amy Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Beth Siple (email@example.com) if you have questions or wish to provide feedback.
New award to recognize excellence in Business Office service
Nominations are being accepted for the first annual College of Agriculture Business Office Service Award. The purpose of the College of Agriculture Business Office Service Award is to recognize the significant efforts of business office staff members who consistently exert effort "above and beyond" to help accomplish the College’s strategic goals. Recipients will receive a cash award. Click here for details and the nomination form are here. Send nomination form and/or letter of recommendation to Cherise Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org) Room 005, AGAD by Friday, March 12, 2010.
Resistant wheat goes for the gut to protect against Hessian flies
Resistant wheat plants stave off attacks by Hessian fly larvae by essentially destroying the fly's midgut and its ability to absorb nutrients, according to a study by Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hessian fly larvae midguts – similar to human intestines – were observed in three different feeding situations. Larvae on susceptible plants had normal midgut function. Those that were given nothing to eat showed no damage to the midgut, though they starved. But those on plants resistant to Hessian flies showed serious midgut disruption.
Dairy producers lose productivity going organic, but can save on feed
While dairy producers can expect less milk when switching from conventional to organic production, they may be able to cut some costs on expensive feed, according to Purdue University studies. Using U.S. Department of Agriculture data that includes information specific to organic dairy producers, a team led by Joseph Balagtas, an assistant professor of agricultural economics, found that organic dairy producers produce about 13 percent less milk compared to peers using conventional production methods. He said that knowledge is critical for dairy producers who might be interested in going organic.
Symposium to examine importance of ash trees in North America
The departments of Entomology and Forestry and Natural Resources will host a conference on the importance of the ash tree in North America. The Symposium on Ash in North America will take place March 9-11 at the University Plaza Hotel in West Lafayette, Ind. Topics covered will be the distribution, management, location, biology, genetics and social aspects of ash trees.
The Purdue zipTrips 6th grade program, We’re All Animals, has been recognized with an Accolade Award of Merit in the “live television events” category. The Accolade is an international competition that recognizes television and videography professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change.
NSF director to lead new Purdue global institute
The National Science Foundation director has been named to lead Purdue University's new Global Policy Research Institute. Arden L. Bement Jr., a former Purdue nuclear engineering professor and department head, has served as director of the National Science Foundation since President George W. Bush appointed him in 2004. He also served as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, from 2001 to 2004.
Green cleaning now a campus habit
What started in July 2008 as a pilot program to test green cleaning methods in Discovery Park has now become a campus-wide endeavor. Through the efforts of Purdue's Building Services, the West Lafayette campus has adopted a comprehensive green cleaning program that replaces cleaning chemicals with bio-based, biodegradable products derived from renewable resources.
Purdue launches international effort to study nutrition, breast cancer
Purdue University researchers are inviting scientists from around the world to collaborate on a new initiative to better understand how nutrition affects breast cancer. "We know that eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial to one's health, especially for cancer prevention, but there are still many unknowns about the role nutritional mechanisms play in cancer development and recurrence," said Sophie Lelièvre, associate professor of basic medical sciences and leader of the Breast Cancer Discovery Group at the Purdue Center for Cancer Research. "There is a void in cancer prevention research in general, and that doesn't help empower patients. Our ultimate goal is to develop strategies that diminish breast cancer incidence, then utilize communication and public policy to educate people about our findings."
Purdue seeks comments as part of accreditation process
Purdue is seeking comments from the public in preparation for a comprehensive evaluation by a team representing The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The evaluation team will visit Purdue's West Lafayette campus March 22-24 and will review the University's ongoing ability to meet the commission's criteria for accreditation. Purdue has been accredited continually by the commission since 1913. The public is invited to submit comments regarding Purdue to: Public Comment on Purdue University; The Higher Learning Commission; 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400; Chicago, IL 60602. Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing and signed and must be received by Feb. 19. Comments should include the name, address, and telephone number of the person providing the comments. Comments will not be treated as confidential.
February 24: College of Agriculture Career Fair, 10:00-3:30; Pfendler Hall. For more information, contact Linda Austin at 494-8473; email@example.com
March 5: Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Awards convocation and reception. For more information contact Debbie Claeys at 49-67894.
March 6: Dean's Advisory Council spring meeting. For more information contact Dinah McClure at 49-49505.
April 17-18: Spring Fest on campus from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday. College of Agriculture and other units from across campus present this educational event. Spring Fest information on the web: http://www.purdue.edu/springfest/