Purdue Day of Giving Celebrates Boilermaker Spirit and Community
Kate Young: Hi, I'm Kate Young, and you are listening to This is Purdue, the official podcast for Purdue University. As a Purdue alum and Indiana native, I know first hand 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 boiler makers? Join me as we feature students, faculty, and alumni taking small steps toward their giant leaps and inspiring others do the same.
Dick Buell: We have a real focus today of giving back in general. Let's face it, I'm here today because Purdue is the foundation of where I started my education.
Kate Young: The Purdue community is a lot of things. It's persistent, it's spirited, it's innovative and it's generous. In this episode of This is Purdue, we're diving deeper into the generosity of boiler makers and highlighting the annual online based fundraising event, Purdue Day of Giving. This one day event was created in 2014 by the Purdue For Life Foundation to support Purdue's giant leap as one of the world's leading academic institutions. Since then, Purdue Day of Giving has raised a total of$ 241.5 million. I had a chance to talk to Amber Turner, Assistant Vice President for broad- based campaigns and strategic engagement for the Purdue For Life Foundation, and Kate Pottschmidt, Senior Director of broad based campaigns and digital engagement for the Purdue For Life Foundation. They share more about how Purdue Day of Giving got started and how it's grown year after year. Here's Amber.
Amber Turner: The first Day of Giving was in 2014. It started as a big idea in the foundation and in our university development office. We were looking for what is that comprehensive campaign that we can truly, Kate and I like to say, go big or go home, so that we can target a widespread audience with truly what they're passionate about. I think oftentimes, we serve up what we think they're passionate about but letting them play an active role in their philanthropic support through a mass effort was new. And it was incredibly new which truly dates us is that when we think about 2014, digital wasn't necessarily a viable platform for us to do fundraising efforts on. We sent a few emails but we never did more than that. And so this was a way to leverage social media, leverage influencers in a different capacity, and really allow our constituency to use their voice to share what they're passionate about and who they truly wanted to rally around and behind.
Kate Young: And as you can imagine, a massive fundraising event for a university the size of Purdue takes a lot of planning and coordination with dozens of different entities. Between Purdue campus partners, regional campuses, and students, Kate and Amber discuss how they prepare and distribute all of the resources and marketing collateral for this big day. Here's Kate.
Kate Pottschmidt: So our team really owns that. We design all of the collateral and create the mechanism for the day and we provide those resources to our campus units, regional campuses in a toolkit manner. We try to say that we want to provide everything that they need in order to be successful. We want to make sure that we make it easy on them. Back in 2014, when we started, we actually didn't have months. The conversation of started in October and November and really we didn't get started until after the holiday break. So we had about four months to execute the day. And with that short of time span, individuals already have a full plate, so we didn't want to add more work to their already existing plate. So it's just really grown from there in providing them the tools and resources they needed to be successful.
Amber Turner: I think we made a concerted effort to meet them where they're at. So Kate and I trucked across campus, in 2014, we met with every campus partner. We talked about what were their strategic goals and priorities, how could this day help leverage or elevate some of their key initiatives, and how we could help be a resource and make sure that we provided those right tools in the toolkit so that it was easy on them and easily implementable. I think at the end of the day, we want to meet them where they're at. And so how can we use this and unite our voices to elevate your key initiatives but also the university?
Kate Young: So how exactly does Purdue Day of Giving work? For 24 hours, students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and friends from all Purdue units are encouraged to give back to grant opportunities and transform lives at Purdue. Participation in hourly and full day challenges can make gifts go even further, and any donation can help your favorite unit. For example, Purdue Bands and Orchestras or the College of Engineering, these units can claim the top spots on the donation and participation leader boards for additional bonus funds. So how did this fun competitive angle of Purdue Day of Giving come about?
Kate Pottschmidt: A funny story actually. Our bands department came to us in 2014, came to Amber and I, and they said we can't compete against the College of Engineering or these larger units. We're a small unit. We don't have that many individuals. And we're like, you have a very energized group who understands the importance of giving back. They wouldn't be able to travel on their trips across the country, across the world, if it wasn't for donor support and so they really understand that value. We told them, let's identify some of the hourly challenges that you can win, like young alumni or parents or even current students, and they really owned that. And now they're forced to be reckoned with, they're the ones to beat, each year on Day of Giving now.
Amber Turner: I think every unit owns some aspect of the competition. And that's the beautiful thing about Day of Giving, is we've set up the challenges to lean into every audience size, every demographic, so there's stuff for the underdogs, there's stuff for the powerhouses. So when we look at the different leaderboard elements, it really gives everybody a fighting chance. I think one of the newer leader boards that we implemented is the Beat Your Best or the Meet the Challenge Leaderboard. And so we're looking at how much they brought in terms of donations, which donations or gifts of any size, it doesn't matter. They're helping their favorite unit participate and compete. But the Meet the Challenge Leaderboard is challenging them to do better than they did the year before. And so it really does help those units who receive a handful of gifts easily accomplish and beat that threshold to win extra bonus funds. When it comes to the hourly challenges, back to Kate's point, we always have every unit pick three to five, again, based on their demographic, do have a heavy young alumni audience, you have a heavy student audience. The pet and the kid challenge, notably our favorites, with the hail Purdue one. There's some really great content that people come up with in obviously our musical, band, PMO, those organizations perform really well in that. But there's some really good content that comes from our sorority and fraternity life, or some of our diversity and cultural centers that come out of the woodwork, that's just amazing to watch. They take their own spin and they put their own unique perspective on it and it really is engaging and fun to watch. And so Kate and I really enjoy watching the challenges. In terms of competitive nature, I think everybody's competitive in their own sense, it's just interesting what content they gravitate towards or which challenge. Pet and baby challenge, great way to do outreach and engagement. Again, people feel such pride towards their animals and their children, and they obviously have that available in their phone. And so when you're scrolling through," How can I participate?" This gives an easy way to do outreach and engagement to their own networks without necessarily having to make a gift. It's really nice for our students to get involved too. So if you don't have the money to participate and you can't make the donation, sharing the message does just the same. You're doing the outreach and engagement, you're helping your favorite unit win bonus funds, and so it's really helping them to amplify their own impact.
Kate Young: Oh, I love that you touched on that because there's probably a number of people who don't necessarily, like you said, have the funds to donate, but want to be involved and love Purdue.
Amber Turner: Yeah. There's definitely the social sharing challenges so that gives them a great opportunity to actively participate in the day. And by utilizing the hashtag, then we're able to track that. By tagging their favorite unit, they're helping to make them eligible for those different key hourly challenges that they can participate in. And again, if they don't have the means to support, it's allowing them to support them in a different fashion. It's still making them eligible to witness those bonus funds.
Kate Young: The growth of Purdue for Life foundation team has seen since 2014 is truly incredible. Amber and Kate said the real time leader boards and challenges they just mentioned have a lot to do with this exponential growth. I saw the incredible growth each year. It is really cool to see that growth. What are some tactics, whether it's marketing... I know you've talked about digital in 2014 versus today. What are some of those tactics that have really led to all of the success for your team?
Kate Pottschmidt: One thing that's really unique to a Purdue Day of Giving is the game theory behind it. So the real time leader boards and challenges that we execute on the day is really what drives the participation and the dollars and that growth. Not only are we at Purdue internally, very competitive, but our donors are also very competitive and passionate about their specific areas and their specific units. We've actually had a donor write on their pledge form," Let's beat another unit." They're showing that passion to have their area on the top of the leaderboard and that pride that they have.
Kate Young: Is there an example, over the past few years, of one idea or one maybe social media platform that really took off and gave you guys some huge results?
Amber Turner: I think it's interesting it depends on the unit. So we put UTM tracking links to every communication and through every platform, for every message that we put out there to see what resonates. I think some interesting things that we found, and it's no surprise, Twitter reigns king for when you look at athletics driven individuals. And so we know that if we want to serve up content to that audience, that's where we need to be at. Similarly, we've seen that some of our older audience segment is always on Facebook and while they might not be actively engaging with the content, they're still seeing it. And so we're still getting that visibility there. So we implement a full multi- channel approach. We definitely don't despair on the volume of communications that we're putting out there, because we want to make sure that we're serving up the content to where the constituent is. So you're sitting there scrolling through your newsfeed, we want to make sure that unit is represented or the campaign is represented. Similarly, if you're not on email and you're not on social, we want to be in your mailbox. So we're trying to make sure that we run the gamut, when it comes to the content that we're putting out there.
Kate Young: But what's it like trying to beat the previous year's goals again and again and again?
Kate Pottschmidt: So I think it's in our nature, right? It's always rising to the challenge as a boiler maker, and I think that this day is no different. I think our alums take pride in that we've been the largest single day, higher ed fundraising initiative across our nation, and that's a great stat and great pride point to have. And so we do take that onus to try to beat the previous year. But outside of the flashy numbers of dollars and total number of donations, there's some other really great stats that we see on the day. For example, one thing that we see is the class year with the greatest number of gifts has always been the previous years graduating class. So it really shows the young alumni that this day really was about to ignite that base. A lot of our peer institutions across the big 10 and across the country have a really hard time igniting that young alumni base, where here at Purdue, we're really lucky that this day has really helped us bring in individuals and show their pride and their passion for Purdue.
Kate Young: During the inaugural Purdue Day of Giving in 2014, the campaign raised$ 7.5 million. And with this huge success, came hundreds of calls from other higher ed institutions and nonprofits asking how this team achieved the success in just one day. Amber explains how this kick started a digital consulting firm called State of Wow.
Amber Turner: After the success that we saw in 2014 from our giving day, the front page of the paper said," Wow," in really big letters. We had raised$7.5 Million, and so really exciting publicity came from our single day fundraising initiative. And out of that, we received more than 200 calls from non- for- profits and higher education institution saying, how did you do it? And since we've seen such tremendous year over year growth, we've been able to showcase that and talk about that. And so out of that, and out of a presidential initiative, we became entrepreneurs and we have opened a consulting business that is called State of Wow, largely based off of the fact that State Street is the heart of our campus, wow is on the front page of the newspapers. And so we've been working with other higher education institutions to help make their days just as successful as we are by leaning in and listening. What are your social engagement metrics telling you, what is the most compelling content that resonates with your constituents? How do you lean into that? And the beauty of giving days, it becomes not give now, it becomes help your favorite unit on the leader board. So it's a switch in messaging which really does have big results. And so we've been fortunate, it's so much fun to talk to other institutions and talk about the game theory they should implement. What is that creative content strategy, and what does their communication plan look like, and really help them maximize their results and good increase in donations and philanthropic support.
Kate Young: Wow is right. What a giant leap for Amber, Kate, and their amazing team. There are hundreds of stories when it comes to all of these people, giving to Purdue on this special day. Kate and Amber share some of their favorites.
Kate Pottschmidt: There are a lot of stories. In the first couple years, we had a comment box where you could, it was meant for special instructions about your gift, but we ended up finding that it was a great place for alums and friends to share what they were excited about. So in 2014, we had an individual who made a gift and in the comment box, he said, this is for the soda machine that ate my dollars when he was a student here. And so here, please go fix that soda to machine, so it doesn't eat another student's dollar. There's great stories like that in terms of funny stories, I think Amber might share a sentimental story, because there's also that side of the house.
Amber Turner: Yeah, I think Kate and I in our roles were typically behind the scenes and so we don't necessarily get that one to one donor interface. And in the wee hours of the night, we man the phones because it does take village during the day, but at night we like to make sure our colleagues are getting their rest. And so we facilitate the 1- 800 number that goes to the Day of Giving and we take the donations. And I think it was 2: 00 AM and a gentleman had called and his wife had passed away and he wanted to endow a scholarship in her name and so walking him through that process. But just seeing that the day is so impactful, and it really does give our alumni and friends the opportunity to really share their story, whether it is through competing in the social media challenges or it is writing in the comment box or sending us an email or picking up the phone and talk to us, different paths to create that huge outcome. So it's definitely a good moment for us to be able to be on that receiving end and hear those or see those comments, whereas typically that's not necessarily our job that we interface.
Kate Young: Why do you think that Purdue is such a special place that hundreds, thousands of alums are choosing to give back their time, their energy and their money?
Kate Pottschmidt: Here in Indiana, we typically call Indianapolis the crossroads of America because of the intersecting of four major interstates. It serves as that hub. Similarly, at Purdue, we have all of these unique, different disciplines across campus, and instead of working separately in their own different silos, they're working together and that's really what truly creates these great innovations that are happening. And our alumni see that and they're fueling that innovation and we wouldn't have the cancer center breakthrough that we've had recently with Dr. Lao. We wouldn't be having the data science initiative working with the College of Agriculture. It's really what makes our institution different than a lot of others across the country.
Amber Turner: And I think we have a lot of pride and a lot of passion for our university and for our degree granting unit or our student organizations that we participated in. People feel such a sense of ownership of those different parts of the campus and the campus life and the culture. And so I think when you put a key initiative, boilermakers show up and I think it shows within the stands at an athletic event, it shows within the Christmas show with PMO, and it shows on Day of Giving. And so I think they want, again, to have that point of pride and to feel like they're doing something to make a difference and make an impact or that our voices are louder together. And so Purdue is special because we show up.
Kate Young: It was clear how much excitement and pride both Amber and Kate have for this special Purdue Day of Giving fundraising event and for Purdue university as a whole.
Kate Pottschmidt: As a Purdue alum, I have a special place in my heart for Purdue and the whole community that comes with it. Purdue is where I met my husband. It's where I formed some great friendships that continue today. My husband and I are season ticket holders for football and basketball and we love going up to campus with our group of friends. There's eight of us who have tickets that go up together and it's really a great memory to have.
Amber Turner: Okay. So maybe it's just the Midwest mentality, but I feel like every boilermaker is so friendly and outspoken and definitely willing to just stop in their tracks and start a conversation with you. Whether you've got the logo on your shirt or on your backpack, they're yelling boiler up, they're wanting to talk about their experience at Purdue, they're wanting to foster that community.
Kate Young: This year's Purdue Day of Giving is on Wednesday, April 27th. So how can you get involved?
Amber Turner: We always have an on campus event for the campus community to participate in. We try to do something fun or outside of the box. I think our student focus group always says," Make it Instagram worthy," and so we have tried to lean into that mentality with everything we do. So one year we had a zip line across the football field, which president Daniels participated in and got some fun coverage of him doing that. This year we'll; the Ferris wheel on campus, where students can see campus from a different point of view. I think that's the fun part of it is get on, take a ride and see what perspective you want to see of campus.
Kate Pottschmidt: If you're not on campus, other ways you can get involved is by making a gift on the day. Even a small gift of$ 10 is very impactful. Really the day, like we mentioned before, the dollars and the gifts, they really compliment each other and are great ways to stay involved with your institution. Another way to also get involved is by sharing the message. Just by sharing the message you help make the day even more successful than it was the previous year, especially on social media, right? There's the seven degrees of separation. So sharing on social media, there's going to be someone who sees it, who will likely make a gift and support the day.
Amber Turner: I think the overarching thing is we're only as successful as the people that stand with us and behind us. And so we're so fortunate to have phenomenal colleagues that will gravitate towards the day and help promote it. It definitely takes a village. You don't put up those successful numbers without having major gift officers support their development work, key stakeholders excited about the initiatives and priorities taking place within the units or their university, the participation and the engagement factor that takes place, the communicators talking about the day, it truly takes a university wide initiative to be successful. And so we're definitely fortunate to have our internal colleagues on board, but even more so our external fans and alums and friends. Definitely again, they show up, they're excited to participate, they're excited to see unit on top of the leader board, and we're excited to have them as part of the day in the campaign.
Kate Young: Mark your calendars for April 27th boilermakers. Our other featured guest in this episode is an incredibly generous Purdue industrial engineering alumni, who has plenty of stories of why he chooses to give back to his Alma mater. Dick Buell is a member of president's council, part of the Purdue For Life Foundation, and he made history in 2018 with his$ 10 million gift, which was the single largest commitment to Purdue athletics. The L Dick Buell endowed head men's basketball coaching position ensures Purdue's ability to attract and retain the best head coach for its men's basketball program. We got the chance to sit down with Dick during president's council weekend in Naples, Florida. We'll start at the beginning of his Purdue journey. So just tell us a little bit, you grew up in Indiana, you went to high school in Indiana, but what was your first impression of Purdue? When did you first hear about it?
Dick Buell: Well, being in Indiana and basketball, the path to anything regarding college or institution was watching basketball games. So, clearly, my awareness of the word Purdue and the institution Purdue started on channel four on some regional channel for Purdue basketball.
Kate Young: How did you decide that Purdue was the right place for you?
Dick Buell: Well, there was a couple things. I saw Purdue campus probably about 1963 or something like that. I went to, again, went to a basketball game at Lambert with a bunch of buddies and my dad and another dad took us there. So I saw the campus. And then as I thought about making the decision, probably around my freshman year in college, I'm sorry, in high school, which would've been'64, math and science were sort of distinguished in the curriculum, and I liked math and science and I did fairly well in math and science. So I gave up the whole dream of into medicine and decided that the answer was engineering. And then it became an easy decision. Purdue University, not near my home, within range of my home.
Kate Young: Tell us a little bit about your time as a student at Purdue. Do you have any favorite stories or memories that really stick out?
Dick Buell: I did work hard study and that was kind of my value system, upbringing, achievement and so on. So I was very well known in the Memorial Center, what they called the stacks. The stacks where all the old books were that they didn't have in the library. They had metal desks, they had metal chairs, and they had light bulbs in the ceiling, and it was dark so it was very secluded. Going down the engineering path, there was lots of studying to do so I had a habit of staying until midnight. The students that were at the desk in the front reception, I knew them because I was, usually if not always, the last guy out and I turned off the lights and as I walked by, they'd say," Dick, did you turn off the lights?" So it was always at midnight. Now my, college activities weren't that bad because I just started dating and going out after midnight, because midnight, I was still in the stacks. That's the memory that I take away from... Never played golf, did limited inter murals, but studied a lot.
Kate Young: So midnight was your starting point of the night?
Dick Buell: Yeah, I was the opposite of Cinderella.
Kate Young: So when you look back at your classes, do you have a favorite class, maybe a favorite professor, that really impacted you?
Dick Buell: Yeah, I think both of those are good questions. One is the favorite classes, I would not tie it into industrial engineering. I will on the professor. But it was always fun from an intellectual level, that had this mathematical equation that one out of three engineers makes it through the program, the other two don't. So physics 152 in your freshman, year was where they could black off those two guys that didn't belong and so 152 is very interesting. The good thing was graded on the curve. So when you ended up with a number under 50, that still could have been good. But 152 was very intellectually stimulating. And in the engineering field, I also liked material science engineering courses and I liked ChemE courses. They were very different and that's why I think they were really engaging to me. On the professor's side, he's since passed, but there was a gentleman named Dr. Pritzker in the industrial engineering school, and he did his own research done around the critical path method or mythology. Critical path is just simply plotting out in business, manufacturing our new product, what are the steps to get to success? And it was always kind of simple location, simple junctions where things got evaluated what was the critical path. He applied probability to all of those. And what was interesting, I think he called it gas, he had another name other than CPM. It was very fascinating because what's relevant today, that was probably 1970, today in artificial intelligence. I am involved in a couple other institutions. It was almost like he created the artificial intelligence idea of ploting a critical path back in 1970 by putting probability functions around, which is what a lot of our artificial intelligence does today. It was very fascinating and it was very engaging, but I reflect on it. It's almost, if you fast forward 50 years, that's 70 to today, 50 years, some of that thinking he has back then we see today. He was a great professor, very distinguished person, intellectually very high.
Kate Young: Dick is from a small town in Southern Indiana. He grew up mowing lawns and went on to become a four time CEO in the consumer packaged goods industry. So how did Purdue serve as a catalyst for Dick after graduation?
Dick Buell: The community I grew up, the town that I grew up in, was Clay City, Indiana. And it was about 900 people. Now, with all the farming community, it may have been 1200 or 1500 total. But I went from that to this day, my businesses took me to five different continents and 44 different countries. So it was a little different than where I started, but for me it was another massive education and I loved learning the cultures. I loved traveling all over the world. I think it was the whole idea of giving me a foundation of problem solving. A lot of things in life, we think of this as mathematics, but you can take it to sort of a conceptual level. In that algebra, for example, is solving a problem with an unknown. Well, engineering's a little bit that way. It's creating a new idea or solving a problem with unknowns. And I think a Purdue engineering degree gives you that kind of platform that's very unique. And even later on, from the marketing point of view, I think there's some carryover in this discussion of that where engineering and marketing sound like they're a long way apart but I don't. Another perspective of that would be engineering and marketing, both start with facts and data. And then to think of today's word, I'm talking back in 1968 to 72, but still data and facts is where everything starts in the engineering education. From the facts you do analysis, and from the analysis you pull together and you have findings, and what you do with the findings is you collect the findings and you have a conclusion. And when you have a conclusion then you can think about a recommendation on what to do, but then ultimately you take that recommendation mindset and you make a decision, sometimes between one or two different ideas. So it goes facts, it goes analysis, conclusions, it goes to recommendations, and it goes to a decision and a solution out in the real world. Well, what's interesting, you can line that up for engineering. It's very clear. I could line it up being the executive vice president of marketing of Kraft that had the same thinking, very different characteristics, but still the same thinking in your brain, so to speak. So it's really fun to compare those. They seem far apart, but from an education point of view, that's the transition, how did I get from engineering to marketing. There was a lot of circumstantial things inaudible lot there, but that's correct, I had Kraft marketing for about eight years of Kraft marketing.
Kate Young: This head coaching endowment was not Dick's first gift to Purdue or the athletics department. He has a real passion for athletics and especially basketball. People know who you are at Purdue. And you've been very generous in your donations. Why do you think it's important to give back to Purdue, after all this time?
Dick Buell: Giving back right now, I'm 71 years old, and so giving back is kind of in that season of my life. Purdue's been there a few years earlier, but I have a real focus today of giving back in general. I have Purdue, I have the University of Chicago, I have Mayo Clinic, then I have a hunger program and I have Habitat for Humanity efforts to go on. So I started Clay City though, we were in the final phases of a community center being built there under my name of my mom and dad. So the gift thing, it's very much there. In the case of the gift of Purdue, it's just like, let's face it, I'm here today because Purdue is the foundation of where I started my education that led to the career we're talking about.
Kate Young: And with your endowment with coach Painter, it sounds like from a very early age, you were excited about basketball.
Dick Buell: I was.
Kate Young: So, tell us about that and why you chose to give back to the athletics program, specifically basketball.
Dick Buell: Athletics, this is another thing going back to sort of my experience, in more of a larger perspective. I could go to major cities around the world and they know about the football team and the basketball team, whether you're in Tokyo or Paris or London or Tel Aviv, wherever, people are aware of that. But they're very much aware of the engineering program, but it's interesting to see how speckled even athletics lead inaudible. Now some of that's just because people know me and want to follow the Purdue sports, but athletics can actually be, in my word, back to touching as many people as possible. It can touch people in a global sense. Obviously, a lot more focused back to the United States, but it can also take sort of the conventional thing of alums. And by the way, this is dynamic, if you think about it. It impacts alums over time, it impacts students over time, and it impacts high school or junior high kids over time. So you get this mass of people that know more about the athletic department than the integrity of the engineering program or the pre- med or the vet school or on and on. So I looked at that in sort of maybe a convoluted way, but it's not only do I like the basketball athletic concept, but I think it's also very much of representing who Purdue university is. It can be somebody from the third grade to somebody 95 years old and it's all relative. So you mentioned one other thing was, Matt plays a big, important role in that whole setting. I mean, he is a paramount symbol of who Purdue is. Again, back to this visualization, when you look at athletics, I mean, here's a guy that's second in the winning streak. So winning's important of Purdue. Fifth in terms of the big 10. And secondly, I know firsthand, he works very hard on student athlete education. And not just the education piece, what are you going to do? inaudible the careers is sort of the little league concept of how many kids are in little league that'll ever play major league baseball when there's fewer than 800 people playing major league baseball. So he really works on that sincerely. And I think the last point, is I think he's a model for all sports, college sports, when it comes to what is ethical and the right thing to do.
Kate Young: Sure.
Dick Buell: That's why athletics. That's why basketball. Oh, I got to have a little one for you of basketball. The last year for the 2021 NCAA because it was in Indiana, I thought it was a great phrase so I'm plagiarizing. But it said," In 49 states, it's just basketball. But this is Indiana." So I think that's my basketball theme.
Kate Young: What does it mean to you to be part of this community after all this time?
Dick Buell: Well, I think it relates to the last things you were talking about. It's another way of giving back. I'm trying to give back because it's not for any recognition or compensation or anything, it's just whatever I've done. I've done a lot, even with a couple Ivy league schools because I did so much in China that the textbooks will tell all the graduate students in business what to do, but it doesn't have people talking about that were on the ground that started up businesses. So that's an example of the idea that it's giving back in that mode. I will say that the thing that I find really positive, I'll try to get some names for you, but I'm getting access to being back on campus. It's not me sort of running around, but Jay Akridge has just been fabulous, what a great provost, and obviously being the Dean of the Agricultural school, he comes from a large base and foundation here I think, and he opened a lot of doors for me. He opened doors with Nathalie Duval- Couetil, and in the innovation entrepreneurship group, I'm actually doing a class March the first. So I do some presentation/ lectures. So I did that, but he also plugged in professor Hamels, and he's really into basketball so we have a little bit of a connection on that. He's a University of Chicago graduate as well, but he got a PHD, I got the MBA. I have a lot of access from him and I am working with one of his people to possibly do in lectures now in the MBA program. And I've done some work on the engineering MBA five year program, a new degree. So I'm doing that. And then Matt Folk, the CEO of Purdue for Life, has open doors. And then the athletic department, both all the way going back to Morgan Burke and now Mike Lavinsky, they make access for me and, or have me doing things, involve me, and that's very rewarding. So my desire is giving, but the sort of the benefit is the things that are truly on in the classroom and helping students and professors with whatever my experience can help with.
Kate Young: When you look back and reflect on your time at Purdue, is there anything you would've done differently?
Dick Buell: No, I have a theme on that one. It's a little awkward, but I'm here today. A little bit of faith in this one, okay? I'm here today because it is meant to be, and that means I don't regret or resent anything. Back in the future, you're talking about what would I change a Purdue, or what do I regret? I don't because that's all part of the equation of why I'm here today. There's peaks and valleys in everyone's life. And I will say I'm very blessed. I'm very fortunate. But I'm meant to be here today, and that's composite of a bunch of things that have happened over time. Therefore, I don't dwell on the past. I try to focus on where I am today and where we go from here.
Kate Young: Sure. And every little step brought you to where you are today.
Dick Buell: That's right.
Kate Young: It's clear Purdue University is an incredibly special and meaningful place for Dick. I asked what advice he would give to current students at Purdue.
Dick Buell: If I look around and think of success, of people I've seen that are successful, there is one characteristic that's very simple, and first of all, it's they work hard. They really, really work hard. What's interesting with that phrase, it can be sort of a descriptive or prescriptive thing, but the people that are successful persist to work hard. So it's working hard and persistence. Sounds elementary, but that's true in your college education. It's true in every job you're going to do. Your family, relationships, you got to work hard and you got to keep at it. The second one is something that I ride in personal life, what I've used and everybody gets my friends get tired of the corny reference, but we only manage the future. We don't manage the past. We can learn from the past. But to a young student for them to get in perspective, hey, don't worry about even failures. You can learn from failures in the past. And if things aren't going right, it's in the past, you can't change it. But what you do control 100% is you can manage the future. You can't manage the past. That's sort of two things I would think about with students.
Kate Young: A theme throughout this episode has been, of course, giving back to Purdue. Supporting Purdue with their small steps and giant leaps. Why do so many people, whether it's alumni, staff, faculty, parents, or current students choose to invest their time, energy, and money back into this boilermaker community? Dick expands on this. Why are you proud to be a boiler maker? What makes Purdue so unique in your eyes?
Dick Buell: Well, I think the word unique is exactly the appropriate word because it is unique. It's not just unique in my eyes, I think it's authentically unique. When I think about today, I've done some research with the University of Chicago in looking at the economy and seeing how the economy since 1989 has really, with a very few exceptions, has been on a phenomenal growth, but it's been built around technology. And so Purdue is a STENM institution, science, technology, engineering, and math. It is there. And technology's one of those four, but really they still blend together. When we think about the uniqueness of Purdue, it's clearly, and it's good today, it's even more of a billboard and a pronouncement today of uniqueness and value that it is an institution that's really grounded in that. I think that's not wanting to be a superior, excellent educational institution, but in fact has a framework to make that happen. I think the whole idea of technology driving the economy. The economy has been so strong since 1989, the consistency and it's coming from technology, but it takes engineering and science in that. And other things. I mean, there's other schools, obviously in the Purdue curriculum and degree choices. But specifically to the area that I'm familiar with, I think it's a really, truly unique and superior institution and the planning and the future need to continue to value that. I think we're in a very good position today. And the now the question is how do we perpetuate that into the future, continuing to be unique and superior institution. And I also think that's with superior professors, unique and superior students, and unique and superior outcomes, results. So that's kind of the way I think about it.
Kate Young: Check out our episode show notes for more information on Dick's endowed head men's basketball coaching position gift. And to learn more about Purdue annual Day of Giving, head over to dayofgiving. purdue. edu. 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.
In this episode of "This Is Purdue,” we’re diving into Purdue Day of Giving, an annual event to support Purdue's giant leap as one of the world's leading academic institutions. Every year on Purdue Day of Giving, thousands of alumni, donors and friends pay it forward – and show just how much the university has meant to them.
Amber Turner, assistant vice president for broad-based campaigns and strategic engagement for the Purdue for Life Foundation, and Kate Pottschmidt, senior director of broad-based campaigns and digital engagement for the Purdue for Life Foundation, discuss how Day of Giving got started in 2014 and how it’s grown since then to raise a total of $241.5 million.
Plus, you’ll hear from Dick Buell, establisher of the L. Dick Buell Endowed Head Men’s Basketball Coaching position and President’s Council (part of the Purdue for Life Foundation) member, about why he focuses on giving back to his alma mater.
Mark your calendars – this year’s Purdue Day of Giving is Wednesday, April 27!
- Learn more about Purdue Day of Giving.
- Learn more about the L. Dick Buell Endowed Head Men’s Basketball Coaching position.