An event that had been whispered about for weeks was brought into the open Wednesday at Purdue – the arrival of a $40 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.
It’s the largest single cash gift Purdue has ever received.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels alluded to the cloak-and-dagger nature of the two weeks leading up to the announcement in his remarks.
“I’m pretty sure some of you came expecting me to announce we found Amelia [Earhart]’s plane,” Daniels joked. “That’s the next announcement.”
The university invited guests to the event weeks ago, but didn’t reveal details about the gift until Wednesday morning. It’ll help fund several projects, including expanding the Maurice Zucrow Labs, which have outgrown the space in which students and faculty currently test propulsion technology.
Lilly Endowment Vice President of Education Sara Cobb says Purdue received the grant because it’ll bolster some initiatives already underway.
“Purdue is describing a way to transform engineering and technology research and education in order to strengthen significantly its contributions to the Indiana economy,” Cobb says.
The gift will also contribute $13 million to an eventual $54 million engineering lab that will allow students space to design and build products the university hopes will eventually be part of startup companies off of which it can make money.