Purdue University

Purdue University

Purdue University, main campus at West Lafayette, Ind.; land-grant with state support; coeducational; chartered 1865, opened 1874. It maintains campuses at Hammond (Calumet campus) and Westville (North Central campus) and, with Indiana Univ., at Fort Wayne and Indianapolis (including the medical school and the Herron School of Art). Purdue is noted for its engineering and agricultural programs and laboratories. Its libraries house especially fine collections in the fields of engineering, agriculture, history, and literature.

Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, U.S., is the flagship university of the six campuses within the Purdue University System, one of the largest university systems in the United States.

Purdue was founded on May 6, 1869 as a land-grant university when the Indiana General Assembly, taking advantage of the Morrill Act, accepted a donation of land and money from Lafayette businessman John Purdue to establish a college of science, technology, and agriculture in his name. The first classes were held on September 16, 1874, with three buildings, six instructors, and 39 students. Today, Purdue enrolls the largest student body of any university in Indiana and the largest international student population of any public university in the United States. The Discovery Park and Purdue Research Park surrounding campus are home to hundreds of medical, biotechnology, and nanotechnology laboratories and companies.

Purdue offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in over 200 major areas of study. The university has been influential in America's history of aviation, having established the first college credit offered in flight training, the first four-year bachelor's degree in aviation, and the first university airport (Purdue University Airport). In the mid-20th century, Purdue's aviation program expanded to encompass advanced spaceflight technology giving rise to Purdue's nickname, Cradle of Astronauts. Twenty-two alumni are astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan, and Gus Grissom.


Founding and early years

On July 2, 1862, President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law, which offered public lands to any state that would establish and maintain a college for the purpose of teaching agriculture and mechanics. In 1865, the Indiana General Assembly took advantage of this offer, and began plans to establish such an institution. John Purdue, a Lafayette business leader and philanthropist (buried at Purdue), sought to help establish a "land grant" college in Indiana. The state of Indiana received a gift of $150,000 from John Purdue, along with $50,000 from Tippecanoe County, and 150 acres (0.6 km²) of land from Lafayette residents in support of the project. On May 6, 1869, it was decided that the college would be founded near the city of Lafayette and legislators established the institution as Purdue University, in the name of the institution’s principal benefactor.

Classes first began at Purdue on September 16, 1874 with three buildings, six instructors, and 39 students. Purdue issued its first degree, a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, in 1875. The first female students were admitted to the university in the fall of the same year. In his inaugural address Purdue's third President Emerson E. White set forth his vision that within its field Purdue must lead, not follow.

The 20th century - Aviation and Aeronautics

One of the most interesting and unique things Purdue has to offer, as well as being well known for, is its diverse majors in aerospace. Purdue University is one of the highest rated aeronautical universities in the world, even ranking up with the United States Air Force Academy, a military-backed institution. It was the first university in America to award a four-year bachelor's degree in aviation. Purdue is also recognized today as one of the top ranked flight schools in the nation.

J. Clifford Turpin, from the class of 1908, was the first Purdue graduate to become an aviator, and received flight instruction from Orville Wright himself. In 1919 George W. Haskins became the first alumnus to land an aircraft on campus.

In 1930 Purdue became the first university in the country to offer college credit for flight training, and later became the first to open its own airport. Famed aviator Amelia Earhart came to Purdue in 1935 and served as a "Counselor on Careers for Women," a staff position she held until her disappearance in 1937. Purdue played a meaningful role in Earhart's ill-fated "Flying Laboratory" project, providing funds for the Lockheed L-10 Electra aircraft she intended to fly around the world. Purdue libraries maintain an extensive Earhart collection, which is still studied by those seeking to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Today, Purdue University's Aviation Flight Technology Program is one of the best nationwide. Annually, only 60 students are admitted into this exclusive and selective program. No other University has a corporate flight department built into the University to provide private aircraft for faculty and staff. Every aviation flight student at Purdue has the opportunity to pilot one of the 3 corporate aircrafts Purdue has flying VIPs and other dignitaries around the nation.

Over the past ten years, Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics has awarded more aerospace engineering degrees than any other institution in the country, issuing 6% of all undergraduate degrees and 7% of all Ph.D. degrees. These alumni have led significant advances in research and development of aerospace technology, headed major corporations and government agencies, and have established an amazing record for exploration of space.


Engineering Mall

The Engineering Mall is the main, central quad area of Purdue University. The three most prominent features of the Engineering Mall are the Purdue Bell Tower, the Engineering Fountain, and the Frederick L. Hovde Hall of Administration.

Bell Tower

The Purdue Bell Tower was constructed in 1995, at Purdue University, through a gift from the class of 1948. It is considered an icon of the university and can be found on many Purdue logos and those of the cities of West Lafayette, Indiana and Lafayette, Indiana.

The current Bell Tower's inspiration comes from the bell tower that was part of the old Heavilon Hall, demolished in 1956. The new tower stands 160 feet tall, and like the original, has a clock on each of four faces. The bells from the original tower hang at the top of the current tower, and a computerized carillon now marks every half hour and also plays Purdue's fight songs and the alma mater. There is also a time capsule located at the base of the tower that is to be opened in 2095.

Engineering Fountain

The Engineering Fountain is centrally located in the Engineering Mall at Purdue University. Designed by Robert Youngman, the fountain was a gift from the class of 1939. The fountain was dedicated in 1989. The fountain stands 38 feet tall and is made of 228 tons of concrete. It jets 588 gallons of water per minute into the air. Colored lights illuminate the water during the evening. Originally built with an open jet shooting straight up into the air, students soon made the tradition of running through the fountain on warm days.

Memorial Mall

The Purdue Memorial Mall is located south of the Engineering Mall and is generally considered the older part of campus. A popular meeting place for students, the Memorial Mall contains the Purdue Memorial Union, Stewart Student Center, University Hall (the oldest building on campus), and John Purdue's gravesite.

Memorial Gymnasium/Felix Haas Hall

The Memorial Gymnasium (now named Felix Haas Hall) was constructed in 1909 in memory of the 17 Purdue University football players, coaches, alumni, and fans who perished in the Purdue Wreck on October 31, 1903 (see List of pre-1950 rail accidents). In 1985 the building was renovated with offices and classrooms for the Computing Sciences department. In 2006, the building was renamed in honor of Felix Haas. A memorial plaque remains affixed to the exterior of the building in honor of those who died in 1903.

University Hall

University Hall is the only building remaining from the original six-building campus. Construction began in 1871, where the building was known as "The Main Building". The building was dedicated in 1877 and the project cost $35,000 to complete. University Hall originally housed the office of the president, a chapel, and classrooms, but was remodeled in 1961 to house only the department of history. At the request of John Purdue, he was buried in the Memorial Mall, directly across from the main entrance of University Hall.

Cary Quadrangle

First known as Cary Hall, Cary Quadrangle opened in 1928 as a men's dormitory. Cary Quadrangle now has five buildings (south, east, west, northeast, and northwest), surrounding the open courtyard, known as Spitzer Court. In addition, the south building contains the Cary Knight Spot Grill.

Considered the "flagship" of Purdue University residences, Cary Quadrangle is still one of the largest all-male housing units in the country. In 2000, Cary Quadrangle began a $43.5 Million renovation plan.

Cary Quad was the location of the annual Nude Olympics at Purdue. The tradition died down after the University began threatening with expulsion any students who ran. Contestants ran laps around the courtyard of Cary nude on one of the coldest nights of the year; the person that endured the cold the longest was declared the winner.

Edward C. Elliott Hall of Music

The Edward C. Elliott Hall of Music is located on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. It has a seating capacity of 6,025 and is one of the largest proscenium theaters in the world. The facility is named after Edward C. Elliott (1874-1960), who served as President of Purdue University from 1922-1945.

Slayter Center of Performing Arts

The Slayter Center of Performing Arts is an outdoor concert band shell located on the main campus of Purdue University, completed in 1964 and dedicated May 1, 1965. The facility was a gift from Games Slayter and his wife Marie.

The natural amphitheater created by "Slayter Hill" can hold an estimated 20,000 people. Architect Joseph Baker used Stonehenge in England as a basis for the concept of Slayter Center. The 200-ton concrete roof is suspended from a tall steel tripod by stainless steel cables. The stage can seat a 100+ player orchestra. Below the stage are a rehearsal room, dressing rooms and storage facilities. "Slayter Hill" is also more popularly used in the winter time as a large sledding hill for students when it snows.

Mackey Arena

Mackey Arena is a 14,123-seat multi-purpose arena in West Lafayette, Indiana. The arena opened in 1967. It is home to the Purdue Boilermakers basketball team. It is named after Purdue alumnus and long time athletic director Guy "Red" Mackey.

Ross-Ade Stadium

Ross-Ade Stadium is a stadium primarily used for American football, and is the home field of the Purdue Boilermakers. The stadium is named for David E. Ross and George Ade, the principal benefactors. Ross-Ade Stadium opened on November 22, 1924 with a seating capacity of 13,500 and standing room for an additional 5,000 people. A series of additions and renovations pushed the seating capacity to 70,000. In 2001 Purdue began a massive $70 million dollar renovation, which led to a reduced seating capacity of 62,500.



Purdue offers more than 200 options for major areas of study at the West Lafayette campus alone, and a variety of options for minors. Purdue is organized into eight colleges and schools contained within larger colleges; the two exceptions are the Krannert School of Management and the School of Veterinary Medicine. These two academic units retained their "school" status during a university-wide renaming policy in 2004 and 2005 in deference to national professional school naming conventions.

Colleges of Purdue University
Purdue University College of Agriculture
College of Consumer and Family Sciences
College of Education
College of Engineering
College of Liberal Arts
Purdue University College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health Sciences College of Science
College of Technology
Engineering Schools of Purdue University
School of Aeronautics and Astronautics Agricultural and Biological Engineering Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering School of Chemical Engineering School of Civil Engineering School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
School of Engineering Education School of Industrial Engineering School of Materials Engineering School of Mechanical Engineering School of Nuclear Engineering Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering
Other Schools of Purdue University
Krannert School of Management* School of Consumer and Family Sciences School of Health Sciences School of Nursing School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences School of Veterinary Medicine*

An * indicates a school existing independently of a larger college.


Purdue employs world renowned faculty and research members. The original faculty of six in 1874 has grown to 2,563 tenure and tenure-track faculty in the Purdue Statewide System by Fall 2007 totals. The number of faculty and staff members system-wide is 18,872. The current faculty includes scholars such as Shreeram Shankar Abhyankar - known for his contributions to singularity theory, Arden L. Bement Jr. - Director of the National Science Foundation, R. Graham Cooks, Douglas Comer, Louis de Branges de Bourcia who proved the Bieberbach conjecture, Leslie A. Geddes, Ei-ichi Negishi, Victor Raskin, Michael Rossmann who mapped human common cold virus, and Leah Jamieson.

Purdue's tenured faculty comprises sixty Academic Deans, Associate Deans, and Assistant Deans; 63 Academic Department Heads; 753 Professors; 547 Associate Professors and 447 Assistant Professors. Purdue employs 892 non-tenure-track faculty, Lecturers, and Postdoctorals at its West Lafayette campus. Purdue employs another 691 tenured and 1,021 Non-Tenure Track Faculty, Lecturers, and Postdoctorals at its Regional Campuses and Statewide Technology.


The University expended $472.7 million in support of research system-wide in 2006–07, using funds received from the state and federal governments, industry, foundations, and individual donors. World-renowned faculty and more than 400 research laboratories put Purdue University among the leading research institutions. Purdue University is considered by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to have "very high research activity". Purdue also was rated the nation's fourth best place to work in academia, according to rankings released in November 2007 by The Scientist magazine. Purdue's researchers provide insight, knowledge, assistance, and solutions in many crucial areas. These include, but are not limited to Agriculture; Business and Economy; Education; Engineering; Environment; Healthcare; Individuals, Society, Culture; Manufacturing; Science; Technology; Veterinary Medicine.

Purdue University generated a record $333.4 million in sponsored research funding during the 2007-08 fiscal year with participation from National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Health and Human Services.

Purdue University established the Discovery Park to bring innovation through multidisciplinary action. In all of the eleven centers of Discovery Park, ranging from entrepreneurship to energy and advanced manufacturing, research projects reflect a large economic impact and address global challenges.Purdue University's nanotechnology research program, built around the new Birck Nanotechnology Center in Discovery Park, ranks among the best in the nation.

The Purdue Research Park which opened in 1961 was developed by Purdue Research Foundation which is a private, nonprofit foundation created to assist Purdue. The park is focused on companies operating in the arenas of life sciences, homeland security, engineering, advanced manufacturing and information technology. It provides an interactive environment for experienced Purdue researchers and private business and high-tech industry. It currently employs more than 3,000 people in 155 companies, including 90 technology-based firms.The Purdue Research Park was ranked first by the Association of University Research Parks in 2004.


The University President, appointed by the Board of Trustees, is the chief administrative officer of the university. The office of the president oversees admission and registration, student conduct and counseling, the administration and scheduling of classes and space, the administration of student athletics and organized extracurricular activities, the libraries, the appointment of the faculty and conditions of their employment, the appointment of all non-faculty employees and the conditions of employment, the general organization of the university, and the planning and administration of the university budget.

The Board of Trustees directly appoints other major officers of the university including a Provost who serves as the chief academic officer for the university, a number of vice presidents with oversight over specific university operations, and the satellite campus chancellors.


Student life

Student Body

The Purdue student body is composed primarily of students from Indiana. In 2006-07, 23,086 out of a total of 39,288 students enrolled, belonged to Indiana. As of 2007, the racial diversity of the undergraduate student body was 86.9% white, 5.51% Asian, 3.53% African American, and 2.75% Hispanic. Of these students, 41.2% are female. Domestic minorities constitute a total of 15.4% in the Graduate student body population of which 38.5% are female. The largest minority (six percent of the full-time student body) is international, representing 123 countries. In graduate student population, non-residents occupy an overwhelming majority, about 78%. Almost all undergraduates and about 69.74% of the graduate student population attend full-time.


Purdue University operates fifteen separate residence halls for its undergraduate and graduate students, including: Cary Quadrangle, Earhart Hall, Harrison Hall, Hawkins Hall, Hillenbrand Hall, Hilltop Apartments, McCutcheon Hall, Meredith Hall, Owen Hall, Purdue Village, Shreve Hall, Tarkington Hall, Wiley Hall, Windsor Halls, and Young Hall. Purdue is also building a new residence hall for upperclassmen.

There are 12 cooperative houses at Purdue (5 men's houses and 7 women's houses). The cooperative system claims that it allows for a much lower cost of living than other types of housing, as the members take an active role in sharing chores and cooking all meals themselves, as opposed to hiring out cleaning and cooking staff. The houses in the cooperative system accommodate between 14 and 60 members. Cooperatives frequently have the highest average GPA on campus, above fraternities, sororities, and residence halls.

Purdue University hosts the nation's third largest Greek community, with approximately 5,000 students participating in one of the 46 men's fraternities or 29 women's sororities. Several of Purdue's most distinguished graduates are members of fraternities and sororities.


The Purdue Exponent, an independent student newspaper, has the largest circulation of any Indiana college newspaper, with a daily circulation of 17,500 copies during the spring and fall semesters.

WBAA is a radio station owned by Purdue University. The station operates on the AM frequency of 920 kHz and FM frequency of 101.3 MHz. Its studios are in the Edward C. Elliott Hall of Music on the Purdue campus, and the transmitters are located in Lafayette, Indiana. WBAA is the longest continuously-operating radio station in Indiana, having been licensed on April 4, 1922. WBAA airs NPR and local news/talk programming during the day. Overnight, the AM station airs jazz while the FM station airs classical music.

There are also a few student radio stations on campus. Currently, three operate from residence halls, broadcasting via internet only; WCCR from Cary Quadrangle (not to be confused with the current WCCR FM or WCCR-LP stations in other states), WILY from Wiley Hall, and a most recent addition WHHR from Harrison Hall. A fourth student station, the Purdue Student Radio club operates from the Purdue Memorial Union and broadcasts on low power AM in addition to internet streaming.

W9YB is the callsign of the Amateur Radio Club at Purdue University. W9YB also holds the self declared title of having one of the largest and most active collegiate amateur radio stations in the country. W9YB actively participates in emergency management for the Tippecanoe County area and maintains ready status with its members in skills to assist.


Purdue is home to 18 Division I/I-A NCAA teams including football, basketball, cross country, tennis, wrestling, golf, volleyball and others. Purdue is a founding member of the Big Ten Conference, and played a central role in its creation. Traditional rivals include Big Ten colleagues the Indiana Hoosiers, the Illinois Fighting Illini, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish from the Big East Conference (football program independent, however). The Boilermakers battle the Hoosiers on the football field each year to win the Old Oaken Bucket. Purdue leads the series, first played in 1925, 68-36-6.

The Boilermaker men's and women's basketball teams have won more Big Ten Championships than any other conference school, with 27 conference banners, including a league-leading 21 for the men’s team. Purdue men's basketball has an all-time winning record against all Big Ten schools Old Gold Free Press

The Boilermaker football team, after suffering a string of disappointing seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has enjoyed a significant resurgence under the leadership of head coach Joe Tiller. Before Tiller joined the Boilers as the 33rd head coach in 1996, the team had not seen a bowl game since 1984. The team has made a bowl appearance every year of Tiller’s leadership except in 2005. After his first season at Purdue, Tiller was named National Coach of the Year by both Football News and Kickoff magazines, the GTE Region 3 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association and the Big Ten Dave McClain Coach of the Year. Tiller recently announced his retirement following the upcoming 2008 season, after he sets the coaching record for most wins at Purdue. He will be replaced by Danny Hope, interim assistant coach, who will take over in 2009.

Traditions and legends


The moniker for the University's athletics teams has become a popular reference for all things Purdue. A reporter first used the name in 1891 to describe the year's winning football team and quickly gained approval from students.

Mascots, logos, and colors

In the more than 130 years since the founding of the university, several mascots have emerged in support of the Boilermaker athletic teams, including: The Boilermaker Special, Purdue Pete, and more recently, Rowdy.

The Boilermaker Special has been the official mascot of Purdue University since 1940. Designed to look like a train locomotive, the Special was originally designed to demonstrate Purdue's engineering programs.

As the official mascot of Purdue Athletics, Purdue Pete is one of the most recognized symbols of Purdue University. Purdue's newest symbol, Rowdy, was introduced in 1997 during the first home football game of the season. The inflatable mascot, made of parachute material, stands nearly 10 feet (3 m) tall, and represents a young boy who hopes to become a Purdue Boilermaker.

Purdue University adopted its school colors, Old Gold and Black, in the fall of 1887. The distinctive colors were inspired by the brass and iron found on the steam engine Lafayette that passed through the state.

University Seal

The official seal of Purdue was officially inaugurated during the University's centennial in 1969. The seal, approved by the Board of Trustees, was designed by Prof. Al Gowan, formerly at Purdue. It replaced one that had been in use for 73 years, but was never officially accepted by the board.

In medieval heraldry, a griffin symbolized strength, and Abby P. Lytle used it in her 1895 design for a Purdue seal. When Professor Gowan redesigned the seal, he retained the griffin symbol to continue identification with the older, unofficial seal. As on the older seal, the words "Purdue University'' are set in the typeface Uncial. The three-part shield indicates three stated aims of the University: education, research, and service, replacing the words Science, Technology, and Agriculture on the earlier version.

School songs

The official fight song of Purdue University, "Hail Purdue!," was composed in 1912 by alumni Edward Wotawa (music) and James Morrison (lyrics) as the "Purdue War Song". "Hail Purdue" was copyrighted in 1913 and dedicated to the Varsity Glee Club.

Fountain Runs

Students often begin and end their time at Purdue with a run through either of the West Lafayette campus's fountains. The Engineering Fountain and the Loeb Fountain run from April through October.

Grand Prix

This 50-mile, 160-lap go-kart race is "The Greatest Spectacle in College Racing" and wraps up Gala Week each year. All 33 participating karts are made from scratch by student teams. The event has been raising money for student scholarships since it began in 1958.

Old Oaken Bucket

Found on a farm in southern Indiana, the oaken bucket is one of the oldest football trophies in the nation. The winner of the annual Purdue vs Indiana University American football game gets to add a bronze "P" or "I" chain link and keep the trophy until the next face-off. Ironically, the first competition in 1925 led to a 0-0 tie, resulting in the first link on the chain being an "IP.


Like many institutions with long and rich histories, Purdue University is steeped in legend.


Purdue University has long been associated with accomplished and distinguished students and faculty. Purdue alumni have headed corporations, held federal offices, founded television networks, and flown through space. Purdue’s distinguished faculty have won Nobel prizes, solved long-standing riddles in science, headed government agencies, and received countless awards.

Purdue alumni have an especially strong relationship with NASA and the space program. All together, Purdue has produced 22 astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, the first, and Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon. Over one third of all of NASA's manned space missions have had at least one Purdue graduate as a crew member. These alumni have led significant advances in research and development of aerospace technology and established an amazing record for exploration of space.

The Dauch Alumni Center acts as a showcase for the University. The 67,000-square-foot alumni center houses the offices of the Purdue Alumni Association and University Development. It is a destination and gathering area for the Purdue Alumni Association’s 68,000 members and more than 325,000 living alumni.

Astronaut alumni

External links



  1. Communications Standards and Licensing. Purdue University: Purdue Marketing Communications. Retrieved on 2006-01-16..
  2. All Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2007 Market Value of Endowment Assets with Percent Change Between 2006 and 2007 Endowment Assets. 2007 NACUBO Endowment Study. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved on 2008-08-29..
  3. Data Digest West Lafayette 2006-2007 > Fast Facts. Purdue University. Retrieved on 2007-12-07..
  4. Data Digest West Lafayette 2006-2007 > Facilities > Land and Facilities. Purdue University. Retrieved on 2007-09-22..

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