New Purdue president outlines vision for school’s future in Indianapolis

Mung Chiang

Purdue University’s new president, Mung Chiang, outlined his vision on Wednesday for the state university’s future—in particular in Indianapolis and in the miles between the city and its main campus in West Lafayette.

Chiang was the keynote speaker at IBJ’s Technology Power Breakfast, which also featured a panel discussion with local tech leaders.

Chiang touched on Purdue’s plans for an independent campus in Indianapolis. These plans stem from last year’s announcement that Purdue and Indiana University would realign the relationship that created IUPUI decades ago.

This realignment, which is set to take effect on July 1, 2024, will result in two independent campuses: Indiana University Indianapolis and Purdue University in Indianapolis.

Chiang stressed that Purdue’s Indianapolis campus will not be a branch of its West Lafayette campus. Instead, Purdue is branding its Indianapolis operations as a fully integrated extension of its flagship campus.

“We think this [Indianapolis] is where our future lies,” Chiang told the crowd.

It’s a message that the university itself has been promoting this week. On Monday, Purdue posted a YouTube video about the Indianapolis campus, saying in part, “We are ready for the next giant leap.”

The video said the Indianapolis campus will be focused on the fields of cybersecurity, data analytics, manufacturing, microelectronics, artificial intelligence and engineering, which the school has identified as “the fields from which the biggest changes are coming.”

Purdue wants the Indianapolis to serve as a site for connecting students, faculty and local companies to advance technological innovations. The campus, the video says, “will strengthen our existing partnerships with industry titans and build new bridges with more corporations.”

At Wednesday’s event, Chiang also discussed Purdue’s goal of developing a hardtech corridor along the 63-mile route connecting downtown Indianapolis and West Lafayette. Hardtech refers to technology that is integrated into physical devices.

In addition, Chiang noted that Purdue’s board of trustees recently voted to continue Purdue’s tuition freeze for a 12th consecutive year. The board approved the continuation of the tuition freeze—which Chiang had requested—earlier this month. This means that, through the 2024-25 school year, undergraduate tuition at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus will remain at $9,992 per year for Indiana residents and $28,794 for out-of-state students.

Chiang succeeded former Purdue president Mitch Daniels on Jan. 1.

Wednesday’s event included a panel discussion about Indiana’s tech industry featuring Anushree Bag, chief information officer at the Indiana Department of Child Services; Amy Brown, founder and CEO of Indianapolis-based tech firm Authenticx; Emil Ekiyor, CEO of Indianapolis-based community development organization InnoPower; Ting Gootee, CEO of Indianapolis-based TechPoint; and longtime tech executive Scott McCorkle, co-founder and CEO at Indianapolis-based software firm MetaCX.

The panel discussed topics ranging from workforce development and Indiana’s tech job market to remote work, venture funding and diversity in technology.

Ekiyor said companies need to provide on-ramps and opportunities for low-income communities to enter the tech workforce. “We want to make sure those jobs are accessible to everybody,” he said.

McCorkle said he had made a conscious effort to hire non-white, non-male employees: “I’m the only white executive on our board.”

Brown provided some guidance for recruiting more women for tech jobs.

“If you are a woman, recognize other women,” she said. “Compliment them. Make sure their voices are heard at the table. Do your part on a micro level and it will eventually make a macro difference.”

Despite widespread layoffs at large tech companies, Gootee says Indiana’s demand for tech talent still outweighs supply, with 11,000 job openings in tech in the state.

Accessing talent is the biggest challenge facing Indiana’s tech industry, Gootee said, “and it’s not going away anytime soon.”

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8 thoughts on “New Purdue president outlines vision for school’s future in Indianapolis

  1. McCorkle said he had made a conscious effort to hire non-white, non-male employees: “I’m the only white executive on our board.”

    – Everyone good with this?

    1. Why not just avoid hiring people because of race or gender and instead hire the best candidates who applied?

  2. With all due respect, Eric S, avoiding hiring people because of race and gender—specifically not hiring blacks and women—is what much of the history of this country has been all about. We did not fight a civil war and pass the 19th Amendment to protect the rights of white men. By all means, let us emphasize meritocracy. But let’s not pretend the playing field is suddenly even. White men, like me, have long had a head start, and some race and gender conscious hiring is hardly going to disadvantage anyone.

    1. To explicitly refuse to hire a qualified person on the basis of race or sex violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Neither good intentions nor moral preening is a defense to such a violation.

    2. Hi Alex, I apologize if you felt that what I said came out poorly. I agree if a certain group did not get a fair chance, but it is 2023 not 1923 so that should never happen. I was just saying, look at everyone the same no matter what their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation is. If someone is great in an interview, they look great on paper, and happen to be an all around great person who cares what they look like? Why pass them up? again, not trying get anyone offend anyone on my post.

  3. If you hire someone based on their race or gender rather than their qualifications, then you are demeaning that person because you are telling them that their race and gender are more important than their qualifications.

  4. I’m kind of shocked that people don’t understand how diversity hiring programs actually work — especially at big institutions and corporations. Businesses aren’t attempting to single-handedly solve racial inequality. The problem that they’re trying to solve is that it’s easy to end up with a very homogenous pool of applicants (in many ways, not just racially). It takes conscious effort and headhunting to make sure that the candidates you consider don’t just look like the rest of your workforce.

    Diversity targets aren’t quotas. Nobody suggested holding executive positions open until they’re filled exclusively by people of a certain race. Moreover, I can’t think of any large businesses that have ever implemented a real quota system like that. (That’s not even to say it’s not worth considering, but that sort of thing just *doesn’t happen* in the US.)