WESTVILLE | Purdue University President Mitch Daniels commended faculty and staff at the Purdue University North Central regional campus Monday, saying they were doing a "tremendous" job.
"When I am here, I am reminded of how distinctive you are," he said, adding the campus has a growing number of full-time students.
The fall enrollment was 6,102 students, with 2,732 full-time students compared to five years ago when the total enrollment was 4,241 students, with 2,558 full-time students
Daniels spent a little more than an hour at the Westville campus, hosting a 30-minute open forum with faculty and staff allowing them to ask questions on any topic. He made no other stops in Northwest Indiana, and returned to the main campus at West Lafayette soon after the forum ended.
Daniels said he wants to maintain Purdue's competitive edge, focusing on engineering, computer science and technology. He previously has said he hopes to expand the engineering department with 107 more professors and attract 800 more students.
He also said agriculture has advanced since Purdue was established as a land grant university and agribusiness has become high tech and continues to be part of the university's mission. The PNC campus has about 900 students with declared majors in engineering or technology.
Diane Spoljoric, interim department chairwoman of nursing and an associate professor of nursing, asked about any increases in the nursing department. "We're losing faculty due to aging and other opportunities available to nurse practitioners," she said.
Without making a commitment and noting his mother was a nurse, Daniels said he is "enormously proud and supportive" of the School of Nursing. He said nursing could be one of the first systemwide online degrees offered to students.
Daniels touched on the development of online courses that would serve the main campus and all the regional campuses. PNC professors said they hoped to play a role in developing those online courses.
"We recognize there have been severe deficiencies in our online education, and we are working hard to catch up," Daniels said. He also talked about shifting to a year-round or trimester system so more students could get through the programs.
In a response to one faculty member who asked if students who persevered and earned degrees despite going to school for eight to 10 years could be awarded some sort of award for completion, Daniels said the university, as a whole, must work harder to make sure students who enroll at Purdue complete the program and graduate.
"We have to successfully graduate more students," he said.