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'Mixed feelings for sure' | Purdue President Mitch Daniels preps for final school start

Purdue expects to see a student body of more than 38,000 Boilermakers this fall.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Boilermakers at Purdue University start the 2022-23 school year on Aug. 22.

When students return to campus, President Mitch Daniels said he expects the second-largest class in school history.

"The month before school starts is especially exciting," Daniels said.

In 2021, Purdue faced record enrollment and record applications, according to Daniels. "We've been stretched to accommodate the students who have said 'yes' to our offers," Daniels said.

However, school leaders said that is a good problem to have, compared to statewide trends.

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A report from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education shows the number of Indiana students going to college has dropped significantly over the last few years.

Daniels said Purdue's tuition freeze has helped bring more students to its campus. He said that, in unadjusted dollars, it is less expensive to attend Purdue University now than it was in 2012.

"Room and board and books have come down," Daniels said. "We have worked on those, too, and so it has had a direct effect on growing enrollment, which in turn has had a major impact on our ability to hold down costs."

Daniels said the school is also focused on recruiting more rural Indiana students. In fact, the campus launched a program in 2020 called "Fast Start" to do just that.

"It is our assignment as Indiana's land-grant school," Daniels said. "We were put here all those years ago to open the doors, widen the gates of higher education, and that's still our mission. Yet, we have more Indiana students on campus now than we've ever had. Now, the whole school is a whole lot bigger, so we also have more brilliant students literally from all other states and even some foreign countries. It is a great mix. We think it is part of what makes a Purdue education so superior."

This back-to-school season is even more special for Daniels. It is his final start of a school year before he retires on Jan. 1, 2023.

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"Mixed feelings for sure," Daniels said. "It has been a tremendous ten years. I could have happily gone on further, but you have to put the institution first. Ten years is much longer than most people hold this sort of job. I am now the senior president in the whole Big Ten."

Daniels said the university has a successful and spectacular incoming president in Dr. Mung Chiang.

"I always say that the final job of a CEO is to turn a place over in strong shape and into strong hands," Daniels said.

Purdue University expects to see a student body of more than 38,000 Boilermakers this fall, according to Daniels. That total would be one of the largest in the Big Ten Conference.

The president's message to incoming students was clear.

"Just be prepared, if you're coming to Purdue University, to study hard," Daniels said. "Be prepared to seek our faculty members, and ask them for their advice, their coaching. Don't miss that chance."

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