Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. is awarding $100 million to the Purdue Research Foundation, with half the money going toward construction of the Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. School of Business building on the West Lafayette campus and the rest to support the Purdue Computes initiative.
The grants represent the largest gift in the university’s history, Purdue announced Tuesday.
“Together 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 in written remarks. “We are truly grateful for the tremendous support from Lilly Endowment.”
Plans for the new Daniels School were first unveiled in September 2022 as a reimagining of Purdue’s school of management. The university says enrollment at the new school was up by 1,100 students in the fall of 2023 compared to five years ago, and applications are up 40% over that time span.
The Purdue board in December approved the construction of the $168 million facility. The 164,000-square-foot building will now be constructed adjacent to the existing Krannert Building and will also be connected to Jerry S. Rawls Hall. All three buildings will be utilized by the Daniels School.
“As we increase undergraduate and graduate enrollment, we will now have the second largest classroom on campus, and we will have three of the top 10 largest buildings in our footprint,” Jim Bullard, dean of the Daniels Schools, said. “Those classroom spaces will benefit both Daniels School students and the campus population at large.”
Bullard said construction is slated to begin this summer. The building is expected to open to students in 2027.
The gift adds to the $50 million donation awarded last February from the Merrillville-based Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation in support of the undergraduate institute at the Daniels School. In April, the university also received $10 million from Norman and Karen Blake to create an ethics center at the school.
The Purdue Computes initiative focuses on the computing department’s physical artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and quantum computing, Purdue said.
The Lilly Endowment funding includes $20 million to launch the Institute for Physical Artificial Intelligence, which will focus on developing innovations to further integrate physical AI into Indiana’s core economic sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation.
Another $20 million to support enhancements to the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue, including the creation of dedicated training bays for students, renovations to the center’s cleanroom and laboratory space for advanced microelectronics packaging, and enhanced capabilities for quantum research.
The final $10 million, Purdue said, will be used to increase “brain gain” in Indiana, with a special focus on workforce development efforts in semiconductors and physical AI. This effort will include expanded programs for pre-college, college, and working professional students to provide pathways to careers in semiconductors and various other industries that use AI.
“We educate world class students, and these students are in high demand. But we need to provide them with with the appropriate jobs and opportunities here in the state of Indiana,” said Professor Mark Lundstrom, acting dean of the Purdue College of Engineering. “Together, these world class students and the research done in the Institute for physical AI and in the Birck Center will be strong incentives for companies to come to Indiana and create high paying jobs for Hoosiers.”
Mike Berghoff, chair of the Purdue Board of Trustees, said the work done by the Daniels School and Purdue Computes will elevate the university, both independently and in collaboration.
“The Daniels School and Purdue Computes share several common goals that will allow them to become increasingly interconnected,” Berghoff said. “Both have set goals of increasing and improving the talent pipeline in our state, and positioning Purdue to stimulate economic development and prosperity in Indiana.”
Bergoff noted that an emphasis on the implementation of ethical principles in the emerging sectors of AI and other advanced technologies will also be a crucial part of the work of the Daniels School and Purdue Computes.
“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,” Lilly Endowment CEO Clay Robbins said in written remarks. “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.”