Purdue University is using the largest-ever gift to its history department to fund two new professorships. Half of the $6 million total will come from anonymous donors and the school will use discretionary funds to cover the remainder. President Mitch Daniels says the investment emphasizes the “central role” liberal arts courses play in science, technology, engineering and math education. September 11, 2013

News Release

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University will add professorships in the history of science and the history of medicine, increasing the number of endowed chairs in the Department of History from one to three, thanks to a gift.

The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, are giving $3 million to fund the professorships.

That will be matched by $3 million in discretionary funds authorized by Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

“These new professorships are strategic investments that highlight the central role the liberal arts play in building a well-rounded curriculum at a school as strong as Purdue in science, technology, engineering and math, the STEM disciplines,” Daniels said. “These positions will help develop young scientists, engineers and health-care professionals who have a broad-based education and are prepared to make a difference in the world, while it will give liberal arts students a broad and deep foundation in the history of science and medicine.”

The new professorships will be combined with history of technology courses already taught in the College of Liberal Arts' Department of History.

“This gift, the largest ever for the Department of History at Purdue, will transform the department, allowing us to create a niche specialty in the history of science, medicine and technology that will build our national reputation and prestige in the discipline,” said department head Douglas Hurt.

“With the endowed professorships and the new program, the College of Liberal Arts will be able to explore more fully how advances in these disciplines succeed, fail and impact lives.”

Hurt said the new program will be interdisciplinary, drawing students from throughout campus.

“Complementing Purdue's colleges of Health and Human Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, and Technology, especially, courses in the history of science and medicine will make a major contribution to the core curriculum,” he said.

“Beyond that, this new program will allow us to attract excellent graduate students nationally who will be drawn to both the research and teaching components.”

The new professors also will work with faculty in health and human sciences, engineering, veterinary medicine, Discovery Park and in the Liberal Arts departments of Sociology, Philosophy, Political Science and Anthropology.

Hurt said a nationwide search for the new professors will begin this fall.

“This generous and transformative gift will enable us to find the best minds, scholars who will pursue interdisciplinary and transnational research and new teaching initiatives and opportunities,” he said. “Our teaching and research in the history of science and medicine will provide a framework in which discoveries in these disciplines can be best envisioned, understood and implemented for the benefit of individuals and society and help improve the quality of life and the impact of discovery.”

Source: Purdue University

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