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$100 million to university for strategic initiatives
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$100 million to university for strategic initiatives

Lilly Endowment Inc. has approved grants totaling $100 million to Purdue Research Foundation to support two major Purdue University initiatives, which will elevate the university, its students, and faculty and accelerate new investments in Indiana’s workforce and economy.

Funding includes $50 million each to support the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business and Purdue Computes, both of which were identified last year by Purdue as top strategic initiatives for the university. Together, these commitments represent the largest gift in the university’s history.

“These transformational grants from Lilly Endowment are historic in both magnitude and vision. Combined, the grants represent the largest gift in university history, injecting crucial momentum into the two intersecting initiatives: the Daniels School of Business and Purdue Computer. With Purdue University in Indianapolis — our first comprehensive urban campus, which opens this July — these strategic initiatives will further elevate Purdue’s excellence at scale for Indiana’s job creation, workforce brain gain and tech-driven prosperity,” Purdue President Mung Chiang said. “We are truly grateful for the tremendous support from Lilly Endowment.”

“These new initiatives hold great promise to strategically build connections between business education and the powerful technologies in computing, semiconductors and physical AI and thereby prepare Purdue students for effective leadership in business and other pursuits in a future of rapid technological change,” said N. Clay Robbins, chairman and CEO of Lilly Endowment. “Given Purdue’s existing strengths in these areas and its scale of impact, along with its commitment to infusing ethical principles throughout its educational programs, Lilly Endowment is most pleased to provide this support.”

Demand for a Purdue business education has never been higher. The new and reimagined Daniels School of Business — designed to deliver a STEM-infused, data-driven education to prepare tomorrow’s business leaders and entrepreneurs — enrolled 3,516 students in fall 2023, up more than 1,100 students from five years ago. Applications continue to increase and are up 40% over that same time span.

Lilly Endowment funding for the Daniels School, which was unveiled as Purdue’s next big move in February 2023, will support the construction of an approximately 164,000-square-foot building. This new building, connected to the Krannert Building immediately to its east, will give the Daniels School three facilities, joining the Krannert Building and Jerry S. Rawls Hall. All will be connected, both above and below ground.

Construction, approved by the Purdue Board of Trustees in December 2023, is scheduled to begin in July 2024 and be completed in April 2027. The new facility will be the second-largest classroom building on Purdue’s campus, behind only the Wilmeth Active Learning Center.

“We are thrilled to hear about Lilly Endowment’s contribution to the construction of our new building, which will immediately become a campus centerpiece,” said Jim Bullard, appointed as the Daniels School’s inaugural Dr. Samuel R. Allen Dean in July 2023. “This truly represents our next giant leap. We aim to prepare a new generation of business students to tackle the technology-driven challenges of today and tomorrow, and this new building will represent our commitment and a beacon for future business leaders.”

This commitment from Lilly Endowment follows a $50 million gift from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, announced in February 2023, which represented the lead gift in the school’s founding and established the Bruce White Undergraduate Institute.

Purdue Computes, a bold initiative that focuses on computing departments, physical artificial intelligence (AI), semiconductors and quantum, will use Lilly Endowment funds to continue its mission to connect faculty and students from across the university and enable it to further advance to the forefront of these sectors and their diverse applications. Initiatives will include:

$20 million for the Birck Nanotechnology Center, which houses the state-of-the-art Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory, one of the largest and most advanced university cleanrooms in the world. Renovations will include:

Dedicated training bay for students.

Updated cleanroom and laboratory space for advanced microelectronics packaging.

Enhanced capabilities for quantum research.

$20 million to launch the Institute for Physical Artificial Intelligence. With a founding director and interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellows, the institute members will develop innovations that will bring together the bytes of AI and the atoms of “what we grow, what we make and what we move” and further integrate physical AI into Indiana’s core economic sectors.

$10 million to increase brain gain in Indiana, with enhanced workforce development efforts in the areas of semiconductors and physical AI. Purdue Computes will expand programs for precollege, college and working professional students that provide on-ramps to careers in semiconductors and a variety of industries, from digital agriculture and advanced manufacturing to digital health and autonomous transportation that utilize AI.

“With Purdue Computes, the university is building on its legacy of leadership in computing and microelectronics to trailblaze technologies that will shape the future, and this gift from Lilly Endowment will make a big difference in helping us achieve our goals,” said Karen Plaut, Purdue executive vice president for research. “This support is essential to realizing the power of AI and computing in transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and life and health sciences and creating the workforce for the future that benefits Purdue students, our state and our nation.”

The grants, while given separately and for distinct purposes, will operate together to elevate the university and leverage new investments in Indiana’s economy because the Daniels School and Purdue Computes share the following goals that connect them strategically:

Increasing and improving Indiana’s talent pipeline by recruiting more top students, as well as faculty interested in new research opportunities.

Positioning the university to stimulate economic development and prosperity in Indiana by helping the state take full advantage of opportunities in emerging industries, deepening collaborations with Indiana employers and encouraging students to find careers with Indiana-based businesses.

Infusing ethical principles throughout all teaching and research activities, remaining mindful of the critical importance of ethics in the ever-evolving world of AI and other advanced technologies.

Building on Purdue’s reputation and capacities in key disciplines, especially STEM, where mutually beneficial cross-disciplinary research and teaching opportunities are expected to grow.

“Students joining the workforce must comprehend new technologies, but they must also be familiar with important business concepts such as organizational change, the impacts of change management, workforce transitions and industrial disruption and creation,” said Patrick J. Wolfe, Purdue provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity. “The Daniels School and Purdue Computes initiatives will collaborate to prepare students who understand how business and technology converge, including in the areas of AI and other advanced technologies, so that they can bring this expertise to their corporate careers. This strong bilateral connection between business and STEM education aims to be the first of its kind in the nation.”

Matt Folk, president and CEO of the Purdue for Life Foundation and vice president for university advancement and alumni engagement at Purdue, said, “The generosity Lilly Endowment has shown to Purdue, both with these gifts and in the past, is amazing, and we are forever grateful. Contributions like this really move the needle for the university and its ambitious mission, but every gift matters — at Purdue, the small steps and giant leaps go hand in hand.”

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