Deba Dutta

Jae Lee / WBAA News

As the school year winds to a close, some top Purdue administrators have made plans to change jobs.

West Lafayette Provost Deba Dutta is on his way to New Jersey.

And, with IPFW set to become Purdue Fort Wayne, Chancellor Vicky Carwein is stepping down.

The people who take over those roles have some challenges ahead of them. The new Fort Wayne leader is going to have to reconstruct the campus. And the West Lafayette Provost’s office has faced persistent questions about whether it’s really committed to diversity.

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Purdue Provost Deba Dutta has been named Chancellor of Rutgers University’s New Brunswick campus, effective July first.

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In addition to prepping for finals and wrapping up the fall semester, the first two weeks of December have been a whirlwind for the faculty, students and administrators whose diversity projects will be funded through Purdue University’s Diversity Transformation Award, or DTA, program.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

It will take more than engineers to put men on Mars.

That was NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s response to Purdue’s “Systems Collaboratory” program during a recent trip to campus. The initiative is designed to broaden the scope of student understanding in areas other than their major.

For example, an engineer or agriculture student taking communication or political science classes to add what Purdue Provost Deba Dutta calls a “human element.”

Dutta says today’s industries want this type of educational diversity.

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courtesy Purdue University

By many accounts, Purdue doesn’t compare well with its Big 10 peers when it comes to underrepresented minority student enrollment and success. During the Spring 2015 semester, African American, Pacific Islander, Native American, Hispanic and multi-racial students made up only 11.5-percent of the school’s student body.

According to census data, those same groups, minus those who identify as multi-racial, comprise more than 18-percent of the state’s total population.

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One of the watchwords in higher education is “more.” Schools have to be careful what they strive to have more of – and often, what they never meant to accumulate in the first place.

On this month’s conversation with Purdue President Mitch Daniels, we ask about a couple items Purdue wants to have more of: gifts to the university and minority students and faculty members.

By almost any measure, Purdue has struggled to recruit African-Americans to campus – either to teach or to learn.

Purdue University’s Board of Trustees is considering changing promotion and tenure criteria for the first time in forty years.

Provost Deba Dutta says the changes will incorporate the results of the Gallup-Purdue Index, which found that Purdue alumni were less likely than other graduates to have felt mentored or cared for by faculty while in school.

Dutta told the Board Thursday the proposed promotion and tenure modifications would emphasize mentoring at-risk students, innovating teaching, and engaging undergraduates in research.