This Is Purdue’s Greatest Hits of 2021
Kate Young: Hi. I'm Kate Young, and you're listening to This is Purdue, the official podcast for Purdue University. As a Purdue alum and Indiana native, I know firsthand about the family of students and professors who are in it together. Persistently pursuing and relentlessly rethinking who are the next game changers, difference makers, ceiling breakers, innovators? Who are these Boilermakers? Join me, as we feature students, faculty, and alumni taking small steps toward their giant leaps and inspiring others to do the same. Wow. What a year to be a Boilermaker, am I right? From Purdue's innovations, to athletics, to traditions and more, it's been an honor to tell these stories of Boilermakers, who are persistently pursuing their next, giant leap. As a podcaster, I love listening to other podcasts and of course, gathering some tips, information and ideas from other shows. One of my favorite podcasts is Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert. After interviewing movie stars, musicians, screenwriters, and even British royalty, Dax and his co- host, Monica, break down the entire interview in a section at the end called the fact check. So I had an idea. What if I spoke with different members from the Purdue Marketing and Communications team, who each had a special tie to these greatest hits episodes. From behind the scenes' things you may not have known, to setting up for big video shoots, to their favorite pieces from the episode, you'll hear a unique perspective from each of these team members in our Boilermaker breakdown. We'll get started with a festive and visual episode. It's a Purdue icon and a Purdue football game can never be complete without it. Notre Dame learned that the hard way. It's Purdue's Big Bass Drum. A little behind the scenes' story here. This episode came out on Thursday, September 16th. That morning of the episode's release, the news broke that the University of Notre Dame wasn't going to allow the world's largest drum into its stadium for the football game against Purdue that weekend. It was the first time the band would perform at a football game without the drum since 1979. Twitter blew up with the news. Suddenly, our Big Bass Drum was in outlets like the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, Deadspin, The Athletic and ESPN. And needless to say, our podcast episode blew up too. In the end, the drum made the trip to Notre Dame, but just didn't get into the stadium. Here's a snippet from our Big Bass Drum episode. We caught up with Pam Nave, associate professor of band and orchestras and percussion instructor, and the co- captains of the Big Bass Drum crew, Brandon Bledsoe and Hannah Pike, at Purdue's band camp in August. What would you say the most rewarding thing about leading this drum line in the Big Bass Drum is for you?
Brandon Bledsoe: The students, no hesitation. That's the best reward. You meet new students every year, you form relationships with them. 18 hours together in a week, you do get to know them. And by the end of their time here, they want my recommendation letter. I always ask," Hey, do you know me as well as you know your chem prof or physics prof?" And they're like," You know what? I know them pretty well, but I really connect with you because of music." And so to me, it's the students. That's why I stayed at Purdue. They're my focus. They're the reason I teach music. They're the reason I'm here in the hot, 53 years old, sweating, dressed like a kid because I feel like I'm in gym class. This is why I'm still here because of the students and our faculty is spot on. Our faculty and staff in our department, just fantastic people. They're family too. We rely on each other outside of our work. We're all very close. And I actually think the students see that. They see that we're close. They see that we work together well. And we're hoping that they do that too, but the best thing about what I do is the student.
Kate Young: And what is it about the All- American Marching Band that seems to just exude the Boilermaker spirit and that sense of community? I ask Hannah, who is involved in many different clubs and organizations throughout the university, why this Purdue community is so incredibly special to her. It's so special to me that you're so well- balanced.
Hannah Pike: Thank you.
Kate Young: You're majoring in engineering, you're minoring in engineering. You're the only girl that's part of the Big Bass Drum here.
Hannah Pike: Yeah.
Kate Young: How does this Boilermaker community and this Boilermaker spirit, how does that impact you day- to- day?
Hannah Pike: The Boilermaker community at Purdue has been amazing. I could have gone to a school in Michigan, but honestly, I just really like the Purdue atmosphere and everything here, especially the marching band. That was a big pull for me, because I really wanted to get involved on campus and that sort of thing. I thought this would be probably one of the best opportunities to do so. But yeah, I don't know. Purdue is an amazing campus, great community. Compared to schools in Michigan, it's really quiet, which I really like. Especially being an engineering student, it gives me a lot of time to study, but then also have time to hang out with friends and that sort of thing. Purdue's just been great. And they've given me so many opportunities, regarding I'm a part of the Minority Engineering Department so they've given me that. And I've done a lot of volunteering for them. They gave me band. I've done a lot of volunteering with the volunteer management teams in band. I'm part of the clothing team so we do the uniforms and we give uniforms to the band. I'm also part of the IDEA team, which is a new one as of last year. It's the inclusion, diversity, equity and awareness team. We focus on the diversity within the band department, as well as scholarships and that sort of thing. I've gotten a couple band scholarships, a couple engineering scholarships. So Purdue has given me so many opportunities to do such great things. They really care about the students, which I also really like. There's a lot of study opportunities, help opportunities within all these different departments and I really like that.
Kate Young: Our first Boilermaker breakdown is with Ashlee Shroyer. Ashlee is our social media manager and she helps run all of our official Life at Purdue accounts. Ashlee has also become a great friend of mine so thanks, Purdue. She came with me to this interview to capture video for TikTok and photos for the other Life at Purdue channels. We discussed our experience at band camp that day. I always knew I wanted to make this episode really visual. I knew I wanted video. The Big Bass Drum is so iconic, such a Purdue thing, a Purdue symbol. That's why I had Ashlee with me, as our social media manager. And then we also went with our amazing videographers, Ted and Thad. We met the band at a band camp practice in August and it was so hot that day.
Ashlee Shroyer: It was so warm. The back of my neck got sunburnt. It was toasty. Everyone out there on that black pavement marching around and everything it was so hot, but it was so cool to see all of that and everything in action.
Kate Young: Obviously, it's always hot and humid in Indiana in August. But just watching all of the students do all of these drills, and all of these movements, and practicing the different formations over, and over, and over in that type of heat. They just had this love for this band. You just had to be there for five minutes and you could see it.
Ashlee Shroyer: Oh, absolutely. The dedication that they showed and just in the tryouts, and everything and the people that you spoke to, it really just showed through how dedicated they are. How much it means to them, how proud they are to be part of this historic, major organization.
Kate Young: Did you know, had you heard of the Purdue All- American Marching Band before you started working at Purdue, Ashlee?
Ashlee Shroyer: I don't think I had actually. I had heard of the Big Bass Drum, but no idea how iconic and everything around it. And hearing in the episode, all the alumni that had been a part of it, and all the different awards that they have, and everything that they were the first to do. How amazing to have something like that and to be a part of something like that.
Kate Young: Yeah. It really is such a symbol of Purdue. And they talked about people think the Big Bass Drum is actually the mascot for the university, which I thought was very interesting because I never thought that when I went to school at Purdue. But I could see where people would think that.
Ashlee Shroyer: I know. I thought the same thing when they said that. I was like," Oh no, people get three different things confused now." Because they know that there's Purdue heat that people think. And then obviously, the Boilermaker Special, and then also the Big Bass Drum, so we're keeping people guessing.
Kate Young: Yeah. Let's set the record straight. What is the official mascot, Ashlee?
Ashlee Shroyer: The Boilermaker Special.
Kate Young: Yes. Not to be confused. Honestly, this so bad of me, but when I was a student, I thought our mascot was Purdue Pete, but now I know. Dr. Pam Nave, she's incredible. She had everything down to an exact science. You can tell she's been doing this for years and she was such a leader. Every, single student out there knew exactly who she was, so well respected. And I just loved talking to her because you just saw that Boilermaker spirit and her passion just shine.
Ashlee Shroyer: Oh, absolutely. You can tell she's so appreciative of what she's helped build here and what they have, so proud of it. That really, I think, showed through in the interview. And she spoke about the connections that she has with the students that it sounds like it's something that's very, very unique and special.
Kate Young: And she actually surprised me that day because I knew I was going to get to talk to one of the members of the band. I wanted to talk to a student and hear their perspective, but I got to talk to two students, Brandon and Hannah, the co- captains. I mean, talk about impressive people. I was blown away. First of all, Ashlee and I are obviously not students anymore. We're a bit older. They were acting like our age. They did not seem like 20 and 21- year- old students whatsoever.
Ashlee Shroyer: No. They were so well spoken. And when you were speaking with Hannah and hearing that in person, and then again in the podcast. The things that she's a part of, and already accomplished, and she set a record, I think she said, in their physical fitness test and everything. I'm just like," How impressive. She's an inspiration."
Kate Young: She really is. She was incredible. I'm so glad we got to hear from her. Brandon knew every fact you could ever want to know about the Big Bass Drum. You could tell that obviously he has talked a lot about going to the gym and that's all part of it. The drum is 565 pounds. He has to be able to handle that, but he also had that whole, historical aspect down pat. He knew exactly what he was talking about.
Ashlee Shroyer: He knew so much. And who knew the physical fitness test, that's the same as the Air Forces he said that they have to do. Who knew that he had to do all of this? It's incredible.
Kate Young: That was one of my favorite facts of the whole episode when he said that, I said," Excuse me?" But all of these students are just so incredible. I really liked how they touched on it's not just doing all the formations and practicing with the music. It's all of these things outside. And of course, we need to talk about the drum tricks. We have a little inside info on that.
Ashlee Shroyer: Yes, the tricks. That crosstalk-
Kate Young: Why don't you tell the story?
Ashlee Shroyer: So I had no idea about any of that. And I had been there to try and get some TikTok content for Life at Purdue on TikTok to see how we could promote the podcast and this episode on there. So they were going through all their tricks and Brandon was like," Well, we do something called roadkill." And we're like,"Tell us more, tell us more about roadkill." They run over someone with a drum. And we're all like,"Well, Kate, obviously this is your chance. When can you ever get this opportunity again?" So I might have twisted your arm a little bit to be the one that gets run over by the Big Bass Drum.
Kate Young: I have to be honest, I was dead set against doing it. I was like," There's no way I'm doing this. I'm sorry. I am not going to. That really freaks me out." But Ashlee, you did twist my arm and I did do it.
Ashlee Shroyer: Exactly. And how thankful and grateful are you that you did it? Not many people can probably say that they've been ran over by the Big Bass Drum.
Kate Young: That is very accurate. I am very glad I did it. My heart was beating out of my chest. I encourage everyone to go back to our YouTube channel, youtube. com/ purdueuniversity and check out that video. And if you hear some screams, that was indeed me.
Ashlee Shroyer: The scream is so epic. When I was relistening to the episode, the fact that Neil Armstrong took his membership pin to the moon. I imagine you're very limited on things that you can bring with you when you go to the moon. I'm guessing packing space is limited. So for him to decide for that to be something that he takes with him, that I think it just shows how much the band meant to him. I thought that was really cool.
Kate Young: The Neil Armstrong piece in that episode definitely resonated with me too. It was something I didn't even know before talking to Pam that day. If you want to hear the full Big Bass Drum episode or see some of the awesome visuals we captured that day, just head over to purdue. edu/ podcast. Next up is our interview with Purdue's men's basketball coach, Matt Painter. And well, let's just say, this Purdue team has made history since I interviewed Coach Painter back in September. On December 6th, Purdue's team was ranked number one in the nation for the first time in school history. We all knew this team was special and they're proving it game after game. Here's a clip from Coach Painter's episode this fall. Coach Painter explains why he chooses Purdue again, and again, and again. Why Purdue? Why have you continued to stay here? You were a player here. You have a long history with Purdue basketball, but why here?
Coach Matt Painter: I think it's the best place for me. Anytime you have success, you can't look at it like Bill Walsh calls it the disease of me. When you're in a group or an organization and you run it, there's a lot of people that lead to your success and you can't look at it, well, a lot of coaches look at it like," I'm the reason why we've had the success." And you're a part of the reason, but you're also a small part of the reason. I'm yet to see a great basketball coaching bad players. I'm just yet to see it. I don't think that exists. So your product is your players and you have to have good people. You have to have good players around you, and then you have to have the support. When you're looking at jobs, you look at Purdue as a job and you say," Well, what do I want to do? What do I want to achieve?" It's got great academics. It's got great people. And they've had a really successful basketball program through the years. And so now, you've got to be able to go match that and then raise it the next level to say this job is going to be better than Purdue. I don't think there's a place out there better for me than Purdue University. I'm familiar with it. I understand it. I understand what's important, but I also stay in my lane. I'm just the basketball coach. I'm not making decisions on campus. I just want to be the basketball coach and that's been very easy and healthy for me in that regard. We have a great president. We have a great board of directors. We have a great AD. And Mike Bobinski, I always say to other coaches out there and they wouldn't be able to comment publicly. I said," But who can say that in high, major basketball?" Who can say," Hey, you guys are going in this direction on campus. You're going in this direct financially. You're going in this direction everything that you do." Purdue's really going in a great direction. And it's having a lot of success and you're not even talking about basketball. Now, when you're in the situation that we are in this state, why would you want to go any place else? This is just the perfect fit for me.
Kate Young: If you caught our full video interview with Coach Painter on YouTube, you saw we were right there on Gene Keady Court and Mackey Arena. There's so much behind the scenes work that goes into these big video productions. So who better to talk to than one of our awesome videographers himself, our broadcast media senior producer, Ted Shellenberger. Ted has been with me on these podcast video shoots since day one and his attention to detail is second to none. He makes guests comfortable during these shoots as well, which is really important. Ted and I discussed the behind the scenes details and our thoughts on this big interview. The Matt Painter interview, I was definitely nervous for because, as you know Ted, I'm not the super sports fan. I don't know that much about basketball or football. I was definitely really nervous, but excited to meet Coach Painter because he's a big deal.
Ted Shellenberger: Yes. Yeah, he is. And I'm not a big sports fan either. I'm not one of those people who knows everything there is to know. Going in I was not knowing what to expect, as far as basketball stuff goes.
Kate Young: Okay. So this was a huge setup. We really knew that we wanted this to be visual. We wanted that Gene Keady Court look. We wanted to be inside Mackey and take all of our listeners on this journey with us. So tell us a little bit about this setup process, Ted, everything you did prior to the interview. I know you laid out some drawings or sketches of exactly where you wanted us to be seated, and the background, and all of that stuff.
Ted Shellenberger: So when I started working with you on these interviews, I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to show that you and your guests are in the same location, because I know you do a lot of interviews remotely. So I think it would be really nice to establish that in this case, Matt Painter, are together in Mackey Arena. I just went on the internet and started looking at pictures of Mackey Arena. It'd been a while since I had been inside there. I didn't know if things had changed. I just wanted to make sure that everybody knew where we were, when they would see any of the angles where the cameras were placed. I found some pictures and sent them to you so we'd be on the same page. That was my starting point.
Kate Young: Then I know we chatted multiple times leading up to this. This was a big interview for us. And we had, of course, a couple team members with us, Matt and John. Tell us about the morning of setting up everything that it took to get this vision that you and the team wanted.
Ted Shellenberger: One thing that I had realized when we were doing the interview with Coach Brohm was that it takes a long time to set all the stuff up that I want. We could have done this a lot simpler, but that's not how I was envisioning this. So I didn't want in any of our stuff, any of the lights, any of the cameras, any of that stuff to be in any of the angles. That was a popular thing several years ago to show all the other stuff that viewers typically don't see but I think that time has passed. I didn't want to have any of that stuff cluttering up.
Kate Young: Yeah. I think it was three to four hours of set up, for sure.
Ted Shellenberger: Yeah. That only gave us four hours, and that sounds like a lot and we had three people, but there was a lot that had to be done. We didn't know this when we arrived, but we had to put mats on the floor to protect the basketball court.
Kate Young: Yeah. I forgot about that.
Ted Shellenberger: Yeah. We started setting everything up and one of the guys from the building came and brought us mats. So we had to be move things around, put that stuff down, protect the floor, which totally makes sense.
Kate Young: Then I remember we were down to what, maybe 30 minutes before the interview and we noticed it was in the background of a shot. We were trying to cover up this signage with black tape or tape something for it.
Ted Shellenberger: Our co- worker, Matt, had noticed that. He has a great eye for detail for those things. So I just said," Okay, Matt, you take care of that. I have other things." So I went back to setting up the lights.
Kate Young: Yeah. You guys do a great job of keeping us comfortable, moving things along. A lot of people don't don't know, but there's a point about halfway through that Ted and the team will switch tapes. I guess is that the right term, Ted?
Ted Shellenberger: Yeah. It's more or less.
Kate Young: Okay. And they'll stop us. And a lot of times, a little fun behind the scenes' thing, the guests are a little bit apprehensive about," Are we going to be talking for a full hour?" And then when we switch tapes at around 25, 30 minutes, a lot of times they say," Oh my gosh, we've already been talking for 30 minutes. Wow."
Ted Shellenberger: Yeah. It's amazing how fast time goes. You know that you're doing a good job when they're engaged and they think that time is also passing quickly.
Kate Young: Okay. So the set up happens, Coach Painter comes down, the lighting looks incredible. I remember after the interview, you sent me a still from the footage that you were looking at. And someone said it looked like straight out of ESPN or something.
Ted Shellenberger: I want our product to look as good, as it would as if we were from ESPN or CBS.
Kate Young: Or Big Ten Network. Yeah, exactly.
Ted Shellenberger: I like 60 Minutes so I want it to look like a 60 Minutes interview. I don't know what the shows are on ESPN. I want it to look like ESPN is sending in their big time people to come and do this stuff.
Kate Young: Yeah. I love that. Well, I think it's fun to mention that, as Ted and I talked about, we don't know all the basketball strategies. We didn't play sports in college. I thought it was really cool, especially with Coach Brohm and now Coach Painter in this episode, these athletic coaches that are very well known, yes, they talk about sports and they talk about their athletes. But a lot of the episodes always center around this Purdue culture and the Boilermaker spirit, what they love about Purdue. What it means to not play sports after graduating. A lot of people don't make it to the pros. What Purdue gives you during your undergrad is so valuable to these athletes that then they can go and do whatever after graduation.
Ted Shellenberger: There is so much more to what the student athletes are doing than just the athletics, and same with the coaching staff and everybody else. It's amazing how many people are involved, whether it's in golf, or softball, or basketball.
Kate Young: Sure.
Ted Shellenberger: But there's tremendously a lot of people, and talented people, involved in the whole program and making sure that everybody is getting a good education.
Kate Young: That's a great point as well. I know Coach Painter talked about Purdue has an unbelievable brand. Going to Purdue is a life decision that you should use as a springboard. And he's saying not just to have this great basketball career, but to have a great life. I thought that was one of my favorite parts of the episode. And again, so few people make it to the pro world and that pro level. I just love how he knows the value of a Purdue education because he went to Purdue too.
Ted Shellenberger: Yeah. That's something I notice everywhere at Purdue, is Purdue is filled with Purdue people.
Kate Young: I know you've been here a while, Ted. Did you work here when Gene Keady was here?
Ted Shellenberger: I did.
Kate Young: So when you worked at Purdue, when Coach Keady was here, was there this electric sense of Purdue basketball? Did you ever feel that or not really?
Ted Shellenberger: I could say this. Growing up in Indiana, there was always a big sense of basketball in Indiana. I grew up in this area so most of the people I was around when I was growing up were die hard Purdue fans, and they loved Gene Keady.
Kate Young: This is such a cool story because Coach Painter went to Purdue, played for Purdue. Then he becomes the coach here. He understands the importance of a Purdue education. He loves the Boilermaker spirit. So when he said," For me, I don't think there's a place out there better for me than Purdue University," that really resonated with me. This episode is going to be so fun to repromote come March Madness. Don't forget you can watch the full video interview in Mackey with Coach Painter on YouTube. Just head over to youtube. com/ purdueuniversity. The next episode was one of my first podcast episodes, as host and writer of This is Purdue. I had heard about Purdue Polytechnic High School, or PPHS, dozens of times just in my first week on the job. I was really excited to dive into this. PPHS was part of the original Purdue Moves initiatives in 2013, under the Affordability and Accessibility pillar. The goal, to build new K through 12 pathways that lead to Purdue, especially for Indiana students who are underserved by traditional high schools and underrepresented in higher education. In June this year, the very first class at PPHS Englewood graduated and received their high school diplomas. For this episode, I spoke with Shatoya Ward, the founding principal at PPHS Englewood, and Kayla Owens, the very first student to enroll at PPHS Englewood. Kayla was one of these students to graduate in June and is now at, you guessed it, Purdue University. Kayla first saw on Purdue a sixth grade field trip. She says from that day forward, she knew she was destined to become a Boilermaker. Kayla tells us what it was like when she found out she was accepted into her dream school.
Kayla Owens: So let me completely transparent. I totally cried because it was so overwhelming because I applied to 10 others schools besides Purdue. I really was just like those schools don't matter. I just really care about Purdue. I just am waiting for Purdue to let me know that I got accepted. I was just super excited. My mom was screaming. I was screaming. I was just like," This is amazing. I've been waiting for this moment right here."
Kate Young: And here's Shatoya with more on how PPHS is reinventing the high school experience. Why do you think that this has gained statewide attention and even national attention? Why do you think it's important to bring this model all across the country?
Shatoya Ward: Man, that's a fantastic question because one, we are reinventing. This is something that we have developed from the ground up. And then second, I like to say that we have transitioned. I used to say we're transitioning, but I think these phones here let us know that we have transitioned from the industrial age to the informational age. So a lot of things that's being taught in the high schools it's valuable, however, I also have access to it. And so what the informational age says is we need to not just know this stuff now, learn this stuff because it's available to us. But how do we apply this stuff? Education right now is still stuck in the industrial age. And we are trying to forge our way through to see what an informational age education will look like. We want to push our students to innovation. There's no longer a wrong and right answer. There's a best answer, but it's not a wrong and a right answer. And so how do we get to the answers so that we can figure out what's the best one? We feel like that that is really important in this time. The pandemic, it's unfortunate, but it really sped up a lot of innovation and ideals. And what had been coming in the future has now come. And so we want our students to be prepared for that. Automation, it's happening. Industry, they're going to look for... I saw, was looking at before Subaru, they got welders now that's automated. Man, that's crazy. Some of the cars that they're making, they're looking at these machines, that's going to take away a lot of jobs. Our kids need to be prepared for that. And so what does that look like to be prepared for a job that doesn't exist? It means solving complex problems, and figuring out how to manage through the automation and the informational age.
Kate Young: I spoke with Kelly Hiller, senior director of creative services, who has been incredibly involved with PPHS from its early days. Here's Kelly with additional background information and her personal experiences when it comes to working alongside PPHS.
Kelly Hiller: It's really been an amazing experience to learn more about the school, and the people there, and the different locations, and just the overall philosophy and vision of how it came to be. I guess it was last fall, we had been talking internally. What is our focus and some of our storytelling going to be for the next year? And PPHS has been a cornerstone of Purdue University for a while. It's a huge initiative for President Daniels. And it was something that I really felt like I could align a passion with. I have children and they're going through high school. It's something that education is really, really important to me. And honestly, I was curious. What is all this about? And wanted to get to know the place, and so started digging in. And the first thing we did was a series of just discovery interviews to really learn firsthand from those involved, what the place is about, what makes it different, why it exists and all those different questions. And just throughout those interviews, each one, I became more inspired, more in awe, more curious, and that's really how it all started. And from there the storytelling, it came easy because it's so authentic. People who are involved there, whether it be the students, the faculty, the leadership, the coaches, as they say, are just amazing people with huge hearts. It's a very, very special family and community.
Kate Young: When we talk about how PPHS is different from a normal high school, what was your main takeaway from this episode?
Kelly Hiller: One of the main takeaways for me is just the description of how their students tackle real world problems. I think many of us had that moment back in high school where we're sitting in class and you're like," Why am I learning this? I will never use this. This is pointless." Whereas PPHS, you still have your core curriculum that you need to learn, and tackle, and prepare you for your next step. But you also have these hands- on projects where you do partner with industry and pursue passions to solve real world problems. And I think that hands- on experience in preparing students for what is going to be a very, innovative technology focused workforce is going to be a game changer for those students and give them a leg up, as they enter the world. And when I hear Shatoya talk about that, it just resonates with me so much because those students get to experience success. They get to experience failure through those projects and teamwork collaboration. Those are just huge qualities that I think are going to really serve them well long- term throughout their lives.
Kate Young: In high school I had seven periods, the same classes, the same teachers every day. That doesn't really prepare you for college when you have a class Tuesday, Thursday, and then you have different classes Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and you have this schedule. But PPHS is already ahead of the game on that and has that college schedule so that students can get used to that, if that's the path they're going to take. I thought that was a really smart idea as well.
Kelly Hiller: It is. I tell you, until you really go to PPHS, it's really hard to wrap your brain around what does that mean? What is the place like? And I will never forget the day I was on PPHS on site for the first time. I walked in and first the announcements were playing, and it was Shatoya. And just the energy, and the positivity, and the joy in her voice, as I was walking up the stairs, I just had the biggest smile on my face. And then as I got to the top of the stairs, the office is all glass. And so you could see Shatoya doing the morning announcements. And it was a performance, it was a performance. Just her positive energy is just absolutely contagious. And then as the day went on and just observing everyone, it's almost like you're immersed in a co- working space. Teachers and students are walking about working together. The bell's not ringing. It's a very productive space, but it's definitely a busy space and people are enjoying each other. I think one of the most critical things, if you are going into college, is being able to have time management skills. And these students really have to have time management skills because they have to manage their time of getting their core curriculum classes done, meeting with their teammates. Their teammates being able to depend on them for projects to fulfill their projects, present their projects. And plus, they have that personal relationship with their assigned coach that they can go to at any time, whether it be a challenge with class, a challenge with a topic, anything at all. It really is a family atmosphere there. And like I said, it's very, very interesting to observe. Way different from a traditional high school setting.
Kate Young: Yeah. And I remember Kayla talking about how her mindset wasn't," I have to quick finish this homework assignment because it's due tomorrow morning." She's like," I'm working on a project that involves real world things and it's due at the end of the semester, so I can spend my time on it." And that's a lot like a college life balance as well. So this episode celebrated the first graduating class, which Kayla was part of. Did you go to the graduation? Were you there for that?
Kelly Hiller: Yes. I would not have missed it.
Kate Young: Okay. Tell us.
Kelly Hiller: Yes.
Kate Young: Describe that feeling. I can't imagine. You said just walking in there, you had these great vibes. What was it like on graduation day?
Kelly Hiller: Everyone was just beaming. The students were beaming. The faculty, the coaches were beaming. This was a huge milestone. All of these students, all of these coaches, they have been through a really unique journey of not only establishing a high school, but reinventing the high school experience. And in this moment, that vision, those dreams, everything came to fruition. And just to see those students walk across the stage, their families and the audience so excited. Many of the coaches were emotional, many people giving remarks were emotional. And then President Daniels was emotional. This was a big day. This was a day that we had been talking about, I think he said, for six years now, and the moment was happening. And it was just absolutely phenomenal to see those students, to see them celebrate together, like I said, with their families and with the coaches. Students were able to select what coach they wanted to go with in the processional that would represent their cohort. And those students and their coaches, it was very, very up that the bond between all of them was so strong that this was really a huge celebration for everybody.
Kate Young: I'm sure it was a day to remember. So Kayla Owens graduated June 2021 this year, and now she officially goes to Purdue. She's dreamed about going to Purdue for a long time. Is there anything that really resonated with what Kayla said in the episode, or even Kayla's experience at Purdue today that you want to touch on?
Kelly Hiller: I think Kayla Owens is one of the most phenomenal young women I've ever met. She was our first student enrolled in PPHS and that was because she's a risk taker and she knew too that she was a Boilermaker. So when it came time to attend a Purdue high school, she was all in. And just to have someone with her drive talk about an ambassador, not only for the school but for Purdue University, she has her eye on the prize. I think it's going to be just so exciting to see where she goes during her time at Purdue. And then just after Purdue, because she really embodies that Purdue spirit, that persistence, that grit. Nobody's stopping her, nobody's getting in her way, and she's going to do great things. I just love listening to her story that Purdue was her goal. That was her goal and she's achieving it. I think all of us at Purdue, everyone who has been along her path, feels honored to have come across her during her journey. I'm so excited to see what's in store for Kayla and where she goes from here because I think the sky's the limit for her.
Kate Young: So I know you and a lot of our team members have worked really hard on these new PPHS documentaries that are following students from PPHS to their time at Purdue. So tell us a little bit about those because I want people to go check them out.
Kelly Hiller: Well, as we were thinking through how do you bring PPHS to life because this is something new? It's not the traditional high school experience. It's a high school being founded by a university so very new models. Unless you bring someone inside, into the walls, how do you bring that to life for them? You can tell the story, you can do student profiles, coach profiles, you can write stories, but really you have to immerse someone in experience to see the transformation that takes place in a student's life. And that's really what we wanted to do with these three students. They're very different personalities. They have different interests and that was intentional. We wanted to show different sides of different journeys at PPHS for students and how each one of them, despite different passions that could be channeled in a positive and productive way. And be a part of their educational journey and ultimately, lead them to the path of Purdue University. So it was really, really exciting to take on a project like that. And luckily, the students are phenomenal. They were very patient with us, as we invaded their lives for a little while to show their story. And what you see is real life. It's them figuring out different projects. It's them having moments of struggle. It's them having moments of triumph. And ultimately, leading up to the big moment, which was graduation for them, but preparing them for their small step to their next giant leap, which is Purdue University where they're all students now. So we'll continue to follow them, but I encourage parents and just other is to check out the documentary series, to watch the episodes. It really gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself into PPHS and see what it is like to be a student there. Shatoya is just a phenomenal human being. Many times, whether I'm hearing her interviews or when I've been at the school, watching her interact with students, or parents, or coaches, fellow leaders within the school, she's doing what she was born to do. And to just watch someone live out their life with such impact on others and to make a difference is so inspiring. I wish we could clone her. And you just think to yourself," If Shatoyas could multiply across the high school system in the United States, what a different place it might be." She's changing lives day in and day out. It's amazing to have a seat and get to watch that. She's a really, phenomenal person.
Kate Young: Again, if you'd like to see the PPHS documentary series that Kelly and the Purdue Marketing and Communications team worked on, go to purdue. university/ PPHSfirstclass. Next up is a new member to our Boilermaker community. Dr. Jerome Adams was named Purdue university's first executive director of Health Equity Initiatives in September. Dr. Adams was the 20th US Surgeon General. And before his service as our nation's doctor, he served as the Indiana State Health Commissioner from 2014 through 2017. A little background here. This interview had to come together fast and it was all top secret until we could make this big announcement. Dr. Adams new role is just one of the many ways Purdue is supporting the strategic initiatives set in Purdue's Next Moves. One of these Next Moves is the Equity Task Force, which Purdue has committed$ 75 million to sustaining an equitable environment at Purdue with a focus on representation, experience and success for black Boilermakers. Myself and our video crew of Ted, John and Thad searched for a few different filming locations before we landed on a beautiful room inside the historic Purdue Memorial Union. Ted, who you heard from earlier this episode, even had to request that all of the construction happening in the union had to come to a halt during this interview. Here's a segment from Dr. Adams episode. When you watched Purdue from afar, what were your impressions of what this institution stood for and what we were doing here?
Dr. Jerome Adams: Purdue has always stood for excellence, from my standpoint. But I'll be honest, the focus that I always heard about was in engineering, astronauts, Neil Armstrong, and also agriculture, and the veterinary schools. So if you're on a farm and you got a sick animal, you want them to go to Purdue. And so that's what I traditionally thought of, but what a lot of people don't know is that Purdue's pharmacy college is the third oldest here on campus. Goes back to the 1800. They've got a tremendous legacy here of success in the sciences beyond engineering. I'm really excited about learning more about that and being a part of that. My family feels like Indiana's home so we wanted to be in Indiana, number one. And that caused me to have to say no to a lot of opportunities where they wanted me to move to New York, or to California, or to Minnesota. But then there's the legacy of Purdue. And what's great about Indiana is you have some fantastic institutions. You don't have to leave to be able to do great things. You've got Cummins, you've got Eli Lilly, you've got Purdue. You have these brands that are known, Neil Armstrong. You've got these brands that are known across the world right here in Indiana. And so to get a call from Purdue, that's something that you're going to say," I've got to listen to, I've got to consider." And then finally, President Daniels, and President Daniels is someone who people highly respect. I don't think people on Purdue's campus even know how highly he is respected for his leadership, for the way he moves the ball on important issues. And so Mitch Daniels, Purdue, Indiana, it was something that I had to consider. And so I started talking to folks because of those reasons, and got to find out about all the great things going on on campus in the health equity space already. And I said if I could be a part of that, on top of this cluster hire. They're about to hire 15 new faculty to focus on health equity across the entire campus. So that's just an energy and excitement that really sealed the deal for me. And again, couldn't be more pleased to be starting here and for what comes next.
Kate Young: I chatted with Tim Doty, director of media and public relations at Purdue, about this episode. Tim has a number of years in media, news and PR under his belt and his dry sense of humor is an office favorite. So this episode came together really quickly. It was a top secret thing at first. I got the call from Ethan and he's like," Can you do this interview next week? Let's make this announcement a big splash because Dr. Adams is a very well known figure." We made it happen. We got to meet him, and talked to him, and he was just so right off the bat engaged. Asking about our video team, just such a really, uniquely, genuine person.
Tim Doty: I agree. You and I both are in the need to know business. We get information when we need to know it. And we get just the right amount of information that we need to know, so we don't get too far out over our skis. I heard about it probably a little before you did." Hey, they're talking about bringing in Jerome Adams." What? Okay, I will wait and see what happens with that. And yeah, you guys did a big to- do over there in the Purdue Memorial Union with photo shoot. You had Protect Purdue Ambassadors. He was shaking hands, kissing babies, getting photos, getting videos, doing that podcast. And what a great interview it was and what a great story. This is a man with a list of credentials a mile long, and yet he's willing to chat with those students. He came into my office a week or so ago for the first time actually meeting him in person, sat down. We had a chat. And as I walked him out of the building to go conduct an interview with one of our local media members, he said hello to everybody. He chatted with everybody, even people sitting inside their own offices at their desks, he made sure to greet them with a smile. He's definitely a magnetic personality, as I'm sure you experienced for a longer amount of time than I did.
Kate Young: Yes, absolutely. It's also so much easier to talk to people like that and get into these sometimes deeper conversations when they have this amazing attitude. And they genuinely, right off the bat, he's like," Are you married? Do you have kids?" He's just asking me about my life. And I'm like," Wait, I'm supposed to be asking you about your life." So such a sweet man and obviously, extremely intelligent. He's an absolute expert at what he does. I can't wait to see what he is already brought to Purdue and what he'll continue to bring.
Tim Doty: Well, yeah. When you have somebody who is willing to have a conversation, that makes your job very much easier. And my job in my past life, where I did interviewing as well, when you have somebody who doesn't want to be there or just wants to give the yes and no answers, it's drudgery, it's a slog. But when you have somebody who's willing to have a genuine exchange, that's when things really get off on the right foot. And he's somebody who puts you at ease when you first meet him. This guy's a big deal. He's a massive deal. He's a giant deal. Having him at Purdue is a huge thing saying, We've got the former surgeon general working with us, working for the state of Indiana." And he puts you at ease right away. I really enjoyed something that he said. He said," I was Dr. Box before Dr. Box." So everybody knows who Dr. Kris Box is from watching the State Health Department updates during the pandemic. And instead of saying," Hey, I'm a big deal," he put himself in perspective by referencing the current person in the job so I really got a kick out of that. That shows you what kind of person it is. And the fact that he tells stories, very detailed, very personal stories about his own life, about his family struggles. I heard him tell some of those stories. When he came into the university previously, he gave a speech over at the active learning center, the Wilmeth Active Learning Center. I remember standing outside the room and listening into some of that, and he doesn't sugarcoat anything. He says," My family had substance abuse issues. While I was in this position, my brother was dealing with it." So somebody who is willing to be open, somebody who is willing to not put themself up on a pedestal really makes for a good interview, and makes for somebody who's going to be good to work with. So if I get requests," Hey, we want to interview Dr. Adams," I have a pretty good idea that he's going to be willing to do it, or he's going to give a good interview. He's not going to just say," Well, if I have to, I guess I'll do it." He's somebody who's willing to put himself out there for the benefit of Purdue, for the benefit of the state of Indiana, for the benefit of the country, as he noted in your podcast.
Kate Young: Obviously, the podcast we want to touch on Purdue topics and everything that's going on at Purdue, but we also want to get to know our guests. So when Dr. Adams was bringing up his family so much, I just loved hearing about his kids. He brought up his kids very frequently. He brought up his brother's story. I just think that helps our listeners get a better idea of who Dr. Adams is. And you can, as you're listening, see how dynamic and genuine he is as well.
Tim Doty: And he brought up that you and he had crossed paths in previous lives. That's a big one, somebody remembering something like that.
Kate Young: Yeah.
Tim Doty: Whether it's your interview with Dr. Adams or with Coach Painter, think of how many hundreds, and hundreds, hundreds of interviews these people have done. They truly could sleepwalk through the interview, and just give the greatest hits, and give the answers. That would be a fine, serviceable podcast. But the fact that they're willing to open up like that, and the fact that he asked about your family, what's your situation, that great exchange showed a personal touch, a personal connection right there. And as you mentioned, his family and his children on social media, he lays it all out there on social media. He's terrific in that he pokes fun at himself. He pokes fun at his kids. He points out," Hey, my wife told me I can't keep bringing my cruddy lunch pail or my lunch in a grocery bag to my job, so they had to go out and get me a lunch pail to bring to my job." I really got a kick out of that. It's authentic, it's real. It makes you more willing, I think, at least in my opinion, to listen to what this person has to say, this is a doctor, this is a surgeon general. This is somebody who could be as aloof, and as distant, and as high and mighty as they want, and yet we'd still listen. We'd say," Well, they're a surgeon general. Of course, they can act that way. This person's a surgeon. They're a doctor. Of course, they're smart and distant. They got a lot on their mind." But the fact that he's relatable and he's able to poke fun at himself, he's able to keep it real, so to speak, is a lot more impressive to me.
Kate Young: I agree. I think, Tim, you've been in media and PR for so long and the way that he uses social media. I said this in the episode, I looked at his Twitter and I was a little bit surprised. The former surgeon general, that's a big deal, as we've said, is tweeting some of this funny, witty, making fun of himself, like you said, and I found that so refreshing. But what did you think when he was touching on a lot of the audience out there now in the world is going to find health information on social media so that's where I need to be?
Tim Doty: Well, number one, that's a scary thought that people would use social media as their deciding factor in anything in life. But sadly, it's the truth. It's what we deal with in strategic communications. You have to reach people where they are. And if I'm dealing with media responses or somebody who saw something on social media, the odds are they just read the headline. They didn't dig in, they didn't get into it. The fact that he's willing to do that. Again, back to what I had said previously, nobody would fault him if he said," I'm a surgeon general, I'm a doctor. I'm not going on social media. If people want to hear what I have to say, they can read this 25 page paper I wrote." But no, he's boiling it down. And as I said, he's keeping it real. He is speaking in a way that people can understand. You do not need to be a doctor. You do not need to have a PhD or even a high school to understand what he's saying, because he is saying it in a way that is easy to understand. In my world and in your world, with some of the interviews and the topics that you get into, there's nothing that's better than that. Speak in the way that everybody can understand it. And if you can't make it understandable, then it's clear that you don't understand it. So that's what we tell our experts," Explain it to somebody as if they were a fifth grader," and Dr. Adams can do that. He explains things so you don't have to really think about it. You get it on the first reference. The fact that somebody at his level, somebody of his status is willing to meet the people where they are is very impressive. And that's one of the things he's going to be doing, as he looks at public health in the state of Indiana. He's somebody who probably, like President Daniels when he was governor, has been to every county in the state. And he's going to be talking to those people in the far reaches, whether they're in the Fort Wayne area, or they're in Elkhart, or in Richmond, or Jasper or something like that, he's going to be talking to those people. And it's really going to be a benefit that he's able to speak the language of the people in the state of Indiana. He's not an outsider coming in. As you said in our discussions before this, he's an adopted Hoosier and he has Hoosier status now. He's got credibility. He's got credibility on a national level, on a state level.
Kate Young: Yes, yes. I think it takes a special person like Dr. Adams, who can explain it at a normal level, a really, high complex health, whether it's about vaccines, or about the pandemic, or anything that could be very, highly technical and complex. He can explain it in this way that, like you said, everyone understands. So I want to touch quickly on the Hoosier status, so we'll give it to him. Dr. Adams is a Hoosier, but I loved how much respect he has for President Daniels. He said," When you get a call from President Daniels, you listen."
Tim Doty: That's a sentiment that is echoed by people all across the country, as I deal with national media. I was at a conference recently and there were many other universities present. When these journalists saw Purdue University, they would say to me something about President Daniels. You know from the podcast interview that you did in his office, how impressive it is. And again, very similar to Dr. Adams in that he's able to communicate in a way that does not seem like somebody who holds the office of the president, or who has been the governor, or who has been in high level, federal office. So yes, he is very well respected and Dr. Adams is right. If Mitch Daniels calls and says," I'm interested in blank," you're going to listen. You're going to hear what he has to say, because nothing is impulsive. Everything's been researched. It is being done for a reason. So having two people like that just increases the status of Purdue even more. And Purdue is already such a trailblazer, whether it's the tuition freeze, or its work on national defense topics, or it's opening up during the pandemic and remaining open. Purdue really is a leader in adding Jerome Adams. The former surgeon general is just another arrow in the quiver of things that we, in our job in marketing and communications, can brag about.
Kate Young: Absolutely. I also loved how he talked about you don't have to leave Indiana to do great things. We have Cummins, we have Eli Lilly, we have Purdue, the brand of Purdue, and that was something that really struck me because I grew up in Indiana. I went to college, obviously at Purdue. I didn't realize maybe at the time what a massive institution and brand that Purdue has all across the world. So I loved when he put that into perspective, even for me, who works at Purdue and loves Purdue, but wow, wait a minute. This is a big deal that I work for Purdue.
Tim Doty: I agree. Some would say Purdue is a brand that matters, right, Kate? Fast Company magazine said Purdue is a brand that matters. And it's funny you brought up the word brand because I was taking some notes, knowing that you and I were going to talk about Dr. Adams. So when I listened again to the podcast, I was jotting some things that jumped out to me, and here's a quote that I wrote down. Dr. Adams said," The brand of Purdue can help Indiana. The brand of Dr. Adams can help Purdue." And if that doesn't sum it up, I don't know what does. But he was very clear in his interview with you and in the stories about public health, whether it's, I hope, or the cluster hires, or some of the other things that have come out in early November, it's that we have the clout. We have that brand. And yes, we are very close to it, Kate. You went to school here, you're from Indiana. And frankly, when you go to college, you're probably not thinking about those things, but the rest of the state really does get that. Even those who went to other schools or have affiliations, it's grudging respect. They say," It's the engineers, it's those smart people at Purdue. It's the astronauts." It's things like that. And what Dr. Adams is doing is saying," Hey, it's not just engineering. It's not just STEM. We can really do it for the state of Indiana and public health. We can use that brand. We can use that name. We can use that motion P to reach people because it's recognizable. It's not some startup, it's not some small company that really does good work that nobody knows. You're getting that foot in the door." Mitch Daniels may not know Jerome Adams, but you know of Mitch Daniels so when you get that call, you're going to take it. That's the foot in the door and that's what Purdue's brand is doing. It's getting that door opened up to get people to say," You know what? I will listen to what they have to say." So when you add Purdue and Jerome Adams, you're already ahead of the game in trying to reach people, and get them to listen and pay attention.
Kate Young: Now, speaking of Dr. Adams, getting that call from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, it wouldn't be a greatest hits episode without our most popular episode of 2021. Here's an incredible moment from the interview with President Daniels.
President Daniels: Boilermakers have always had a special affinity and pride for this place. That would be a natural thing. I'm sure people at every school feel that way, but this has been measured. And there is a statistically, significant difference, has been, of people's sense of loyalty and so forth. I've always assigned a lot of that to the fact that this is a place of upward mobility, why land grant schools were created. But I think in Purdue's case, it's especially pronounced. I say all the time, I've now had a chance for a decade to meet so many tremendous Purdue alums. Almost none of them came from privilege. This is the place where the young woman or man from the farm, or the small town, or the inner city came from. And then over and over by the now hundreds of thousands who were launched on great lives, we've always been proud. And I think that's part of it. I've talked to so many people and it starts the same." For me, it started at Purdue. I owe it to Purdue. If not for Purdue." That's the thing I love the very most about this place, as you can see from my snippets. I hope the last year added a layer on top of that for all the reasons we just discussed.
Kate Young: Absolutely.
President Daniels: It's like the couch. Somebody said," Well, that's a Purdue thing."
Kate Young: Yeah.
President Daniels: They're tinkering around and inventing something that works. I'd like to think that our navigating through this difficult circumstance expressed something that's always been there about this place.
Kate Young: There was nobody better to speak to President Daniels leadership throughout the pandemic and the Protect Purdue initiative than Ethan Braden, senior vice president of Marketing and Communications at Purdue University. As you know, this was our first podcast episode that we really did a lot of video production for, which was really exciting. We got to go into President Daniels office to record this interview and all the video, which was awesome to see. And this was the first time the president came on the podcast, which was a really big deal. I think we saw the growth and how many people wanted to listen to President Daniels on This is Purdue, so that was really exciting as well. And let's kick it off, just talking a little bit about that our president led Purdue through this pandemic and the Protect Purdue campaign. You were very involved from the beginning in all of this. So tell us a little bit of the behind the scenes on what went into President Daniels decision on leaving the campus open and having all the students come back.
Ethan Braden: I'll start with an interesting piece, which is my predecessor, Dan Hasler, retired in the month of March of 2020. I slotted over to that Chief Marketing Officer role days or weeks into COVID. And why I tell you that is when Dan was getting ready to leave, I said," Hey, what am I getting in Mitch as a boss?" And I'll never forget the answer. He said," You're getting a role model and you're getting a leader." And that was never more exemplified, I think, than especially the early months of Protect Purdue, but certainly throughout. He was the first major university president to come out and say," Based on my understanding of the situation, and based on my dedication to the residential experience here at Purdue University, and based on who we are, we're coming back." Leaders lead the way, and leaders always have arrows in their back too. But I think it was that line in the sand. It was planting that flag to say," Now we have a North Star. Now we have a goal." And that orchestrated a group of people to bring their collective expertise, and their collective care to the table each and every morning to protect and reopen this place. It was exhaustively studied. Willie Reed and Dean Hummels, Dean Reed, and Dean Hummels, and their Safe Campus Task Force exhaustively studied the recommendations that came to that group in the end to say here's the 150 things you need to think about. And from there, we were off and running from an implementation standpoint of what do we have to do. I think he says in the podcast," We left no stone unturned. We left no expense unconsidered to do a few, really important things," which is what he set from the very beginning. We were going to protect the vulnerable, first and foremost, we were going to de densify the place. And we were going to figure out a way to reopen in a safe and manageable fashion. One which was going to manage the curve. Not one that was going to have the peaks and valleys that we saw at other campuses. The stops and starts, et cetera. So from the very beginning, he was leading the way toward a very, clear North Star, which was to open Purdue back up the way we know Purdue would do. And do it safely, do it open, do it active, and do it protected.
Kate Young: Yeah. I think one of the quotes that really stuck out to me was when he talks about the essence of difficult decisions. And he touched on this too in his commencement speech in May of this year. He's like," If you try to wait until you think everything, it's usually too late." And he talks about he didn't want to leave 35,000 students just," Hey, figure it out, figure it out yourself." And he made that commitment to the Purdue community. I just think it speaks volumes of his character. And like you said, a leader and a role model.
Ethan Braden: It was just done in such a Purdue way. I've talked on this a lot and we just did it so in brand. I don't mean that logos and colors, et cetera. I meant we did that the way anyone would expect a Purdue University would approach this, especially with his leadership. If we think back to the 150th commercial, it says at one point in time, we run the numbers and then we jump and I think that's so important. We talk about practical solutions applied to the world's toughest challenges. We, I think enable and we embrace the mantra of Nike. Just do it. And so there is this application, there is this let's get down to business. There is somewhat of a ready, fire aim, not frivolously, very well studied. But I remember a talk he gave previously where he said," Hey, some people say that speed kills. Now, oftentimes speed saves." The greatest errors are made by those who are too slow, too hesitant, too timid. And he thought to be too slow in this instance for our students would be a significant disservice.
Kate Young: Absolutely. The whole Protect Purdue initiative, I've seen it throughout my time at Purdue. And of course, you've helped build it up into what it is today. And it's just like you said, so in brand, so powerful. And another thing that I thought was interesting was how clearly proud he was of the students and how they followed everything. There were the hand sanitizing stations, and there's social distancing in classrooms, and masks everywhere, and students really did follow it.
Ethan Braden: No, you're absolutely right. He knew. And I think we all did too, right? Walk the campus. I got a load of flack in a newspaper in June of last year when I said we have a very special set of students, but I believe that. I leave our culture at Purdue University is different than other places. And he said it very early on. He said there would be nothing more important than the near universal embrace of the Protect Purdue pledge. And if we got that, not that anything else would be easy, but that would be the nucleus to our success. And so the Protect Purdue Ambassadors, the student government in our athletes, our coaches everyone rallied in a very together fashion that we'd expect from Purdue. And I'll go back to your point of those that were coming together to Protect Purdue as well. He talks about it every morning for months on end. We were there at 8: 30 together bringing our best, as we say in our essence, to change the world, to protect Purdue. John Gordon says," Driving a positive, high performing culture requires more than words." And everyone's got a mission statement, but only the great organizations also have people who are on a mission. We were on a mission every morning at 8: 30. And actually, we were on the phone at noon on Saturday, and noon on Sunday as well, looking at the data, adjusting our approach, making decisions, collaborating. Leaning on those with their subject matter expertise, always having a finger on the pulse. So I really appreciate all those that were on a mission that came to the table to Protect Purdue. And you're right, first and foremost, the spirit, the essence, the ethos, the commitment, the culture of protection, and togetherness, and sacrifice, and care and concern of our students on campus was paramount.
Kate Young: In your role, you can explain to us further, what does it mean having Mitch Daniels lead Purdue University?
Ethan Braden: I have a dear mentor and coach. And when we talk about my development, about my strengths and weaknesses, he'll often remind me that every other week in a one- on- one and more frequently than that, especially with these Protect Purdue meetings, I'm working for a president who could have been president. And I catch myself at times thinking about that. When I'm sitting across the table from him, and thinking about the experiences that he had at Lilly, that he had in the White House, that he had as probably the most famous and accomplished governor of our state. And now, as one of the most accomplished and certainly famous presidents of Purdue University. The experiences he's had, the lessons he's learned, the decisions he's made, the leaders he's developed, the teams he's built, I'm part of that. So when we're talking serious things, I have great admiration. And when we're talking about couch carts and T- shirt guns, I catch myself and say," Where am I? How am I talking to Mitch Daniels right now about a T- shirt gun or whatever it may be?" So it's a pleasure, it's an honor. And Dan's right. Every day I work for a role model and I work for an individual, who as I watch him, as I admire, as I learn from him, I'm learning at the highest levels of leadership.
Kate Young: Yeah. I thought it was so special when he said," I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for the world," and how fulfilling this role is for him. And his love for Purdue was just shining in that moment for me and everyone in the room. And how special is it that someone who could have been president, like you said, and has worked at all of these high level offices is so proud to be a Boilermaker?
Ethan Braden: It's so cool. David Brooks wrote a great book called The Second Mountain, and I think Purdue for Mitch in many respects is the third mountain. He talks a lot about the first half of your career being around accomplishment on wealth generation, on racking up the resume, whatever it may be. And the second mountain, that second part of your career, that second part of your life being more around purpose. And I think certainly, Mitch's contributions to this state as governor were all about purpose. And boy, did he plant the seeds for the shade that we're all enjoying in this state right now, especially. But his third mountain has been doing the same thing, I think, at Purdue University. And the care, and the commitment, and the concern that he brings every day to this job, his love for the students, as he talks around getting out, getting to the gym," funning around" in his words, his impact is monumental. I think it's been with great purpose and I'm so thankful. I can only imagine what all he could have done in 2012. But to choose to come to Purdue, to choose to be here almost now a decade. The tuition freeze and everything else that he's inspired and accomplished through, I think, great team members looking up to him and wanting to do right by him, quite frankly, has been incredibly purposeful. Both for him but also for all of us and this great university.
Kate Young: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. I want to just lightly touch on this. When he's talking about what he is looking forward to this year, right now, he talks about Purdue's basketball team. And I have to just shout it out. We're number one in the country the first time in our school's history. Looking back, what an interesting thing that he said back in May when we interviewed him and now come December, here we are.
Ethan Braden: Yeah. No, it was a great prophecy, but I think also Protect Purdue, it was grounded in understanding. He knows how hard this team has worked. He knows how hard Matt Painter, and his team, and his coaches, and Mike Bobinski, et cetera, have not only worked, but recruited, and envisioned, and planned to make a day like this past Monday now rank number one possible. I think of a couple things. I think of Lionel Messi saying," It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success." And I think of James Clear when he said," Whenever you see an overnight success, your eyes deceive you. What you're witnessing is the hour of opportunity unleashing the potential energy of previous choices." Our number one on Monday is a function of many, many, many previous choices by those players, by Coach Painter and his staff, by Mike Bobinski, by Mitch, the board, the fans, et cetera. So I think we're thrilled to be where we are. I think Mitch knew that though. I think he knew again, that we were going to reap what we had sewed over the last months and years with these players and this team. Right now it's paying off. Now, I know they're also incredibly focused on April, not December. And that's the heart of a champion. It's wonderful to be number one and we should cherish it. Jim Collins talks about the genius of the and. Let's cherish this right now, but let's not lose sight on March and April, and the real prize. Nobody wants to win warm up. They want to win the game, and these guys want to win in April. So it was a great prophecy and Eddie knows. He's tight with Mike and Coach Painter, and he knows these teams and what it takes. And he's seen it. He's a big basketball fan. But boy, there's a whole lot of hard work that has made that cannon that has just recently been lit and lit with a number one ranking.
Kate Young: What do you think when we see recently, he was right there in the student section with all these Boilermakers at the IU Purdue game? Why, in your opinion, do you think it's so important for him to be involved with the students and to just have fun? And he touched on in the podcast and how he said he missed seeing the students and interacting with them.
Ethan Braden: Yeah. I think he says it. It's why he is here, right? I think he takes greatest joy in our students and who they are, where they've come from, what they have to share, what they're going to accomplish, where they're off to. I think he enjoys them as much as anybody. And that's why the last year's been hard is because you've just been a little bit more separated from them in the gym, in the dining halls. The talks or the interactions that he might be asked to give, whether it's a fraternity house, or sorority, or whatever it may be. So he loves our students. He's got a big heart and great sense of humor when it comes to them. I think back to the T- shirt gun and the T- shirts that we produced for him a couple of years ago and firing those into Mackey, the couch cart and other things to come. The shark suits most recently. I don't know how to explain him other than to say he's a really good sport. He was as governor and he is as our president. But especially when it comes to our students, and when it comes to a student request, the couch cart coming from the students, the shark coming from the students. When they request, he's a very good sport about the things that they want to do with him. I think that speaks to a really, positive culture around here. The students want to be around him.
Kate Young: Yes. For sure.
Ethan Braden: Students want to interact with him. They want him near. Not every university can say that about their president, but we can. And so I think that's really a special piece here. And you see that play out on social media with the students, with the parents, with the alums and his fans. They see him as a man of the people, as a man of the students.
Kate Young: Yeah, absolutely. It takes a special president, like you said. Not every university has that president, who has this relationship with the students. Is there anything else that really stuck out to you in the episode?
Ethan Braden: I think the ending is just so powerful. I think a couple of things. Number one, just kudos to you. You, Kate, and that is I think your podcast, unlike athletics, not ours, unlike the ESPNs of the world or whatever radio show, where they come and they talk about the X's and the O's. I think what's so special about your podcast is that you are helping others get to know these special human beings. You're getting to the person, you're getting to the humanity, you're getting to the soul. And when they listen to you, they get to know individuals better. Coach Brohm, David Boudia, Briony Horgan, Mitch Painter, et cetera, they get to know their essence. What makes them tick, who they are, why they're at Purdue, why they think Purdue's special. And there's probably no greater example of you accomplishing that than this podcast. You prepared like crazy for it. And it wasn't about the X's and O's so much as it was about Mitch's leadership, the decisions he made, what he learned from it, what he wanted us to learn from it, what would he have done differently? Was there any times of anxiety? Was there any times of second guessing? But I think what was most special personally, was the end. What he shared with you on the podcast is similar to what he shared during the PPHS graduation. And I just think it's so incredible that he continues to come back to what we called in marketing speak with our work with brand trust on the brand, this notion of accessible prestige. That our prestige here at Purdue University is not a function of scarcity, or private rarity, it's a function of excellence, sustained excellence, sustained commitment, sustained grit. He says these aren't the privileged necessarily that are coming to Purdue and accomplishing all of this. This is the kids from the farms. These are the kids from the inner cities. These are the kids from the small towns that come, and they accomplish, and they work their tails off, and they go out in the world to do big things. But they come back and say," It all started at Purdue. Or thank goodness for Purdue, or if only everyone had their Purdue experience." So I think that ending where he shares just how important what we are doing and what we do is by far my favorite piece. It speaks to the land grant mission. It speaks to us taking education and practical application to the masses. And it speaks to, I think, what can be accomplished in the way that he wants to see it accomplished, which is again, that persistence, that innovation, that collaboration, that grit, that tireless commitment to get up every time you fall down. And it is those kids from the inner city, it's the kids from PPHS, it's the Tyler Trent scholarship award winners. It's the kids from the farms that we see at Purdue go on to do amazing things. They put their heads down and they do their best. And when they look up, oftentimes they are the best and that's so special. And I think that you brought that forward and you made that very, very apparent in the podcast that he was willing to go there with you, was just an incredibly special, I think, piece of Purdue content.
Kate Young: Yeah. It was definitely a popular episode and listening to him at the end, I think all of us in that room were just in awe. Honestly, we were like," Can we keep going? We don't want this to end." But that ending, I agree was such a special piece. I've talked to so many guests now, and you'll hear some of this in the upcoming episodes in 2022, but it's all about how Purdue is this institution that when you're from Indiana, it's like," Okay, yep. I'm going to go to Purdue because it's really great." But then these people across the world know Purdue, and know it's brand, and you don't always real realize how incredible it is to have this Purdue degree and have this Purdue experience, like you said. So you'll hear a lot of that in our upcoming episodes, but it's the same theme over and over with all of these guests, who are affiliated with Purdue like," This is such a special place. And we're so lucky to have these experiences here."
Ethan Braden: No, you're right. And we hear it. I've been here three years now, my wife's a Boilermaker and I've certainly drank the Kool- Aid. It is a special place. I've been on many campuses. I've attended two other schools, including Notre Dame up north. This is a really special place in that nexus, again, of these incredible people, and the incredible research that's taking place here in that spirit. It is brand speak, but I think we got it right. That nexus is the persistence of these folks, the persistence of the Boilermaker, the innovative nature of it, and the way that they do it together. That is special, and that's distinct, and that's unique and it's differentiated versus some of the places that we might call peer. And when that combines, that's where the magic happens. And we're really lucky to have Mitch leading that charge. And we have been for the last 10 years. And then when you couple the value with it, it's unbelievable. You've got this incredible numerator. And then you look down at this very, very acceptable, very, very worthwhile denominator that spits out an equation of incredible value. That's the Purdue experience, both while you're here and thereafter, as you enter into Purdue for life. So I'm a big fan. I have a get to job, not a got to job. And coming here to work every day is incredibly special.
Kate Young: I couldn't agree with Ethan more. I know we covered just five interviews in this celebratory episode, but each and every episode we produced in 2021 was incredibly special. A few other honorable mentions for me personally, was our interview with former Purdue and NFL quarterback, Jim Everett. That was such a fun, lighthearted interview that was filled with Purdue pride. It was as if I was catching up with an old friend. And of course, our old, golden ticket vaccination drawing episode, which featured the behind the scene stories of how we awarded one year of in- state tuition to 10 lucky Boilermakers, who got their COVID 19 vaccine. Be sure to go back and check those out as well. There are endless Boilermaker stories of persistence, and we're only getting started. We want to hear from you though. What was your favorite episode this year? Share a review on Apple Podcasts or tag us on social media at Life at Purdue and use the hashtag This is Purdue. Happy Holidays, Boilermakers, and we'll see you in 2022. Thanks for listening to This is Purdue. For more information on this episode, visit our website at purdue. edu/ podcast. There you can head over to your favorite podcast app to subscribe and leave us a review, and as always, Boiler Up.
On this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re celebrating some of our most popular episodes of 2021 to ring in the new year!
Listen in as we share clips from episodes with Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, men’s head basketball coach Matt Painter, the iconic Big Bass Drum crew and more.
Plus, host Kate Young interviews several members of the Purdue Marketing and Communications team to hear the behind-the-scenes details from the prep work involved to what pieces of these special interviews resonated most with them.
It’s a great episode to celebrate the podcast’s growth this year as we continue to tell the stories of Boilermakers taking giant leaps.