By MEGGIE. I. FOSTER
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Referred to as a ‘transformational gift,’ Purdue University’s College of Agriculture recently accepted an anonymous estate gift valued at an incredible $65 million, the largest individual donation in the university’s 144-year history.
“This extraordinary gift is a strong statement of support for the agriculture industry, our college, university and our new president (Mitch Daniels),” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “This donor has vowed to make an incredible investment in Purdue Agriculture because they believe in our ability, both today and in the future, to deliver on a research, education and Extension mission that addresses our most pressing real-world problems with real-world solutions.”
According to Akridge, the $65 million gift, is a deferred estate gift, meaning it may be many years before the college will receive the monies.
“Basically, the college will receive the gift on passage of the donors who wish to remain anonymous,” he explained, adding that the funds will then be made available in increments of $3 million per year.
Additionally, Akridge said that the donors have placed no restrictions on the gift and have hopes that the gift will be used in places of highest need for the college.
“Their wishes are that this future funding be used in the best possible way to build on Purdue Agriculture’s tradition of excellence and to ensure that we enhance that excellence in all we do going forward,” he said. “This is the best kind of gift we could ever receive because it gives us a lot of latitude to make a big difference for our college.”
While Akridge said he can not predict where the monies may be needed possibly many years down the road, he did admit that scholarships, facility needs, endowed professorships as well as Extension programs are all areas where the funds may end up. Also, he said that this gift may be used as leverage to double donor dollars to create other incentives.
“The possibilities are endless,” said Akridge. “It’s exciting. This is the biggest designation to the College of Agriculture in our university’s history. Since it may be many years down the road before we receive the funds, it’s hard to predict what our needs will be. But someday, this gift will make a huge difference here.”
Lisa Calvert, Purdue vice president for development, said the gift also was an endorsement in the leadership of the university.
“The donors made the gift in support of Mitch Daniels in his new role as president,” she said.
Akridge was unable to comment in terms of financial well-being of the College of Agriculture, other than to admit that the college recently upped its request from the state from $7 million up to $10 million, a $3 million increase.
“We have received consistent support from the state at $7 million per year since 1998,” said Akridge. “This year we have requested an increase to continue to do what we’re doing and to do new things as well. In order to accomplish our goals, we increased our request this year by $3 million.”
According to Akridge, despite the statement of support from the anonymous donors at $65 million, the College will continue to request the additional support from the state, since the gift is not immediately available. Akridge was unwilling to comment as to whether or not the donors were Purdue alumnus and the age and health status of the clearly generous and humble donors.