From the Dean: July 2020 Engineering Community Letter

Dear Purdue Engineering Community,

As we approach the middle of summer, we’re all busier than ever. Getting our research labs back in operation was a big step, and our Early Start students will be here on campus in a few days. Early Start will help us pilot a residential experience designed for these times. As Provost Akridge has stated: “we have committed to our students to offer a residential learning experience in Fall 2020, albeit one that will look very different as we modify that experience to protect the health of our faculty, staff, and students.” Like many of you, I’m busy figuring out how to do this for the class that I’ll be teaching. By now, we were hoping for some clarity on the number of students who will be with us in the Fall, but with new cases increasing across the U.S., there is still much uncertainty. It is clear now that we’ll be dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for at least one year, possibly longer. Please take care as we develop a new normal that will be with us for a while.

Land-grant universities are special – all three of my degrees are from land-grant universities. Universities like Purdue prepare students to succeed in life, but it has been difficult for us to achieve that goal for everyone. Our numbers today of African American students are lower than before the establishment of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) in 1975, here at Purdue. We must do better. I am delighted that Beth Holloway and Jarvis Jointer have agreed to co-chair a task force to take a fresh look at this challenge. Dr. Holloway wears several hats in the College; she is Assistant Dean for Diversity and Engagement, Leah H. Jamieson Director of Women in Engineering, and has a courtesy appointment as Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering. Mr. Jointer is a 2004 graduate of our School of Civil Engineering and has spent his career in various roles and experiences in civil engineering including construction administration, site engineering, transportation engineering and environmental engineering. In 2019, Mr. Jointer founded JQOL – Jointer Quality of Life, an Indianapolis civil engineering consulting firm specializing in improving the Quality of Life. This task force will help us better understand why it has been so difficult for us to offer the opportunity to earn a Purdue degree to some populations, and it will identify new approaches to address this persistent problem.

As we look to the future while advancing the frontiers of knowledge and technology and continuing to provide a Purdue education to our students, please take care of yourselves, your families, friends, and colleagues.


Mark S. Lundstrom
Acting Dean of the College of Engineering
Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor
of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Purdue University