Worth Waiting For: A Personally-Delivered Diploma 18 Years After Commencement

Purdue University Northwest Communication and Creative Arts Department Head/Associate Professor Tom Roach, attired in graduation cap and gown, personally delivered to alumna Valerie Gonzalez at her Griffith store the Purdue diploma she expected to receive 18 years ago.

The following story was submitted by Purdue University Northwest:

Valerie Gonzalez didn’t give much thought initially to the fact her diploma failed to arrive in her home mailbox after she had participated in Purdue University Calumet Commencement Exercises back in the spring of 1999.

University graduates typically do not receive their diploma at Commencement Exercises, but rather weeks later in the mail.

As a communication/public relations major whose work load as a freelance writer had grown substantially, “the need for that piece of paper never came up as I worked, and so it kind of slipped from my mind,” Gonzalez said.

But when her diploma was still a no-show 17 years later, she decided last summer to follow up with her presumed alma mater.

It’s complicated
Upon contacting what is now Purdue University Northwest’s Hammond Campus, she discovered that the issue of her absent diploma had gone down a path of institutional procedural twists and turns of which she was unaware.

“It was a combination of two factors,” said the now 42-year-old owner of Charcuterie, a Griffith delicatessen/specialty grocery store. “I was told I was missing (academic) credits, which I didn’t think was possible, and also that I had an outstanding library fine.”

The academic credits issue arose from an incomplete she took in a final semester course in 1999. It was quickly resolved after the course instructor—Associate Professor of Communication and current Purdue Northwest Communication and Creative Arts Department Head Tom Roach—came into her store one day last fall to purchase some feta cheese.

Professorial attention
“Valerie recognized me and then proceeded to tell me she had graduated in 1999, but had never received her diploma,” Roach said. “When I got back to campus, I asked one of our academic advisors, Caitlyn Lackey, to investigate. We discovered that though Valerie had not satisfied the incomplete she took in my class, she had achieved strong enough marks throughout the course to easily pass and earn the necessary credits.”

As for the library fine, Noemi Elizalde, who acts as PNW’s graduation coordinator, said university policy prohibits awarding diplomas to otherwise qualified students who have university financial encumbrances to satisfy.

“You wouldn’t believe how many diplomas we have on hold because of unpaid student fees,” she said, pointing to a drawer-full of prospective graduate files.

Missing journal
As Valerie recalls, “I think it was a scholarly journal they said I hadn’t returned and was missing.”

After Roach paid the $35 fine to resolve the matter, he and Lackey agreed a graduation celebration was in order. For the occasion, Roach attired himself in traditional, graduation cap and gown and drove to Gonzalez’s store, surprising her with his personal delivery of the Purdue diploma she expected to receive nearly 18 years earlier—post-dated May 17, 1999.

“It was the best graduation I could have had—even better than the first one,” she said.

Purdue’s Income Share Agreement Program Takes On Philanthropic Component

We covered Purdue’s new income share agreement program, a measure to help students lessen the debt they incur, in BizVoice last year.

Purdue recently announced its “Back a Boiler” program has added a philanthropic aspect by allowing donors to contribute as well. A release from the school has more:

Beginning this fall, Purdue students who apply to take part in Back a Boiler – designed to offer students and their families an alternative financing option – may also apply for available funding support from the new Pave the Way program.

Addressing Purdue alumni and friends at a dinner in Naples, Florida, President Mitch Daniels recognized the support of Bob and Patti Truitt, Purdue alumni who approached the university about expanding Back a Boiler so that donors could participate, in addition to investors.

“Our hope is that we can not only help students finance their education, but also help teach the importance of charitable giving, including the joy and importance of giving back to Purdue,” said Bob Truitt, a 1962 graduate of Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Patti and I are honored to make the initial commitment to Pave the Way.”

Back a Boiler participants receive education funding in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of their post-graduation income over a set number of months. In addition to signing a Back a Boiler contract, Pave the Way participants are asked to make a voluntary pledge. After graduation, students fulfill their Back a Boiler commitment and are encouraged to donate to Purdue through charitable giving, creating an evergreen Pave the Way fund to benefit future students.

“It’s what we like to call a virtuous cycle,” said Amy Noah, vice president for development, Purdue Research Foundation. “We’re grateful to Bob and Patti for establishing an ongoing legacy of philanthropy, and we’re hopeful that our generous alumni and friends will be interested in supporting future generations of Boilermakers through this new way of giving to Purdue.”

To learn more, visit purdue.edu/evertrue/pavetheway.

‘Take the Long Way Home’: Todd Miller of Myers Spring a 2016 Chamber Volunteer of the Year

Todd Miller grew up in the small town of Twelve Mile in Cass County. Ironically, it’s about 12 miles from Logansport, where Miller resides and runs his family’s business, Myers Spring Company.

Miller’s journey, however, is anything but a short drive. In fact, at one point, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to be involved with the company that his grandfather started in a garage in 1946.

When Miller attended Purdue University to pursue a degree in engineering, he followed his musical passion and joined the school’s glee club. Traveling throughout the state and country with the group opened Miller’s eyes to the possibility of meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. As manager of the glee club, he met fascinating people and at one event dined with astronauts Gene Cernan and Neil Armstrong.

Those were pivotal moments for Miller. His grandfather passed away in 1985, and Miller’s father took over the company. Miller’s intention was to join the business after he finished school.

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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Purdue’s Income Share Agreement Option Moves Forward

boiler

In the latest BizVoice, we covered Purdue University’s recent exploration into the world of Income Share Agreements (ISAs). The funding strategy allows students to pay back loans based on their future earnings. It’s a way to mitigate the mountains of debt today’s college students often find themselves in after graduation.

Since the article’s release, Purdue has moved forward to the next phase of the process. Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) is managing and making the funding available for the program. This web site provides more information.

PRF is now focused on providing educational and informational sessions to students and parents. The application process for the Back a Boiler – ISA Fund will begin in May. PRF anticipates this will give students time to review all of their options and determine which best serves their educational funding needs.

VIDEO: See What’s in the New Edition of BizVoice

Our Senior VP and editor of BizVoice Tom Schuman explains what’s in the March/April edition. If you’re interested in higher education, corporate social responsibility or Vanderburgh County, we have information you can’t miss.

This issue also focuses on the “Outstanding Talent” driver of the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan.

Read BizVoice online today.

Mitch Daniels on the Future of Undergrad Education

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels doesn’t shy away from the challenges facing higher education. He embraces the opportunities and shares his insights in this one-on-one interview. Read our full interview in the latest edition of BizVoice (and the story includes a QR code link to more video of the Daniels interview). 

This Boilermaker Prefers Copperheads to Rattlesnakes

BrewerThis past year was quite the adventure for me. Last March, I left the Indiana Chamber after 14 years to tackle a new chapter in my life. I could blame the move on the brutal winter that year, but I think the time had arrived for me to explore and to feel like I tried something new. With the exception of a semester abroad in college, I had lived all 37 years in the good ol’ Hoosier state. I didn’t want to look back some day and say, “I should have tried” or “what if?” So, my wife and I packed up our two Subarus, then headed west to Tucson, Arizona with great enthusiasm and a terribly confused dog.

I’ve told many friends that this past year was arguably the year I learned the most about myself. I learned how to avoid multiple rattlesnakes on trails. I learned how to carry 100 ounces of water on a mountain bike ride. I learned how important it was to continue to see new places and grow my need for wanderlust. Most importantly, I had plenty of time to think after climbing to the top of four of the five mountain ranges surrounding Tucson, and it made me realize what was most valuable to me… my mom’s pecan pie. Well, her pecan pie made the most missed list, but being in the same area code with my Montgomery County family and all of my friends in Indianapolis was most important to me.

The direct flight from Indy to Phoenix was fairly easy, but life just wasn’t as fulfilling. I missed seeing my nephew’s first start at defensive end for Rose-Hulman’s football team. I missed seeing Purdue thump IU both times during the basketball season. I missed the community feel of my old, funky Broad Ripple neighborhood. I missed my favorite beer at Thr3e Wise Men. I certainly enjoyed the active outdoors lifestyle in mountainous southern Arizona, and I continued Chamber work with four state chambers, but it just didn’t feel right. After one year, we came running back, and the dog was even more perplexed.

My new role with the Chamber starts this week as the advertisement sales director for BizVoice magazine. I really enjoyed my time at the Chamber in membership and helping members, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work with the Indiana business community again.

That’s enough reflection for one day. Time to head to Crawfordsville for a piece of my mom’s pecan pie.

Purdue’s 4-H Outreach Expanding to City Youth

RI may be a graduate of Indiana University, but the IU/Purdue rivalry stops at the edge of the basketball court for me. That’s likely for two reasons: (1) I have at least a modicum of perspective, and (2) I’ve written about Purdue in BizVoice enough times to be flat-out impressed by the school’s innovative educational efforts and its dedication to giving students a well-rounded experience.

Additionally, the fact that Purdue has an extension presence in all 92 of our counties is quite remarkable to me. While I’ve written about Purdue’s work to reach rural students in the past, I was somewhat surprised to see how it’s helping 4-H make an impact among Indiana’s urban populations.

Because urban areas tend to not have a strong tradition of 4-H, Purdue Extension is creating new programs in heavily urban Lake, Marion and Allen counties to attract more young people there.

They’re not your typical 4-H clubs.

“These clubs meet after school and are heavily focused on engaging young people in science and helping them understand where food comes from as well as career opportunities in agriculture,” said Renee McKee, program leader of 4-H and youth development at Purdue University.

A nationwide expansion of 4-H into urban communities was made possible through a National 4-H Council funding opportunity that originated from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  In Indiana, the program is funding three start-up 4-H clubs in each of the three counties.

The effort is a strategic initiative of Indiana 4-H, McKee said. Key to making it work is getting community leaders and volunteers involved to help keep the 4-H clubs going once the grant funding is no longer available.

“The idea of creating urban 4-H clubs is to make them part of the fabric of the community, just as 4-H has done in many rural communities across Indiana,” she said.

Lake County in 2011 was the first of three urban counties in Indiana targeted for 4-H clubs funded this way. Funds initially were used to hire three program assistants who helped with establishing the clubs, planned activities and led meetings. They also work to connect parents and others from the community to volunteer with the club so that the community eventually takes responsibility for leading the programs. Urban clubs in places such as East Chicago and Gary now join the “traditional” clubs, such as those in Crown Point and Lowell where 4-H has been active for years.

“The main difference between when we started and now is that volunteers are taking a larger leadership role, and we have more investment from the local community,” said Julie Jones, 4-H youth development Extension educator in Lake County.

Now that the clubs are established in Lake County with about 100 members, including students of elementary and middle school age, older youth such as high school students are being encouraged to join the county’s 4-H Junior Leaders program and participate in the 4-H Round Up, a three-day workshop for middle school students to explore careers at Purdue in the summer.

Allen County began participating with this effort in 2012.

This year, three new urban clubs are starting in Marion County, all of which have a technology focus called Tech Wizards, an after-school, small-group mentoring program developed at Oregon State University. Tech Wizards work on technology-driven projects such as robotics and videos.

The Marion County clubs are being organized in less traditional places in Indianapolis such as the Felege Hiywot Center, which teaches gardening and environmental preservation to urban youth. 4-H also is working with the Immigrant Welcome Center, a resource for the growing number of immigrants in Indianapolis.

“Many of our opportunities to reach young people are in after-school settings, and there so many issues that impact after-school 4-H,” said Jim Becker, 4-H youth development Extension educator in Marion County. “These issues include transportation, single-parent families, the poverty rate and competition from other youth organizations.”

McKee said the urban initiative shows that 4-H can reach a diverse population statewide.

“Because of this Indiana strategic initiative, we have the ability to serve young people in Indiana regardless of where they live,” McKee said.

Transportation’s Future Focus of Summit

08Solving the National Transportation Crisis is the theme of the 12th annual Indiana Logistics Summit. More than 300 participants are expected from the transportation, logistics, distribution and manufacturing industries.

Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith are among the speakers. Innovator Lawrence Burns, who spent 40 years with General Motors, will deliver a presentation on The Future of Transportation.

Purdue University, Conexus Indiana and the Ports of Indiana are the hosts for the Oct. 7-8 event at the Indiana Convention Center. Learn more and register.