Purdue Gets $100 Million for New Business School, Computing Efforts

The Lilly Endowment approved $100 million in grants for Purdue University, the largest single gift in the university's history.
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Updated on January 18, 2024
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  • The Lilly Endowment Inc. approved $100 million in grants for Purdue University.
  • $50 million will go toward the construction of a new building for Purdue's burgeoning Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business.
  • Another $50 million will go toward Purdue Computes.
  • The combined $100 million represents the largest gift in the university's history.

Purdue University just received the biggest gift in its history — and that funding will help the school build on its already fast-paced business and computing growth.

The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc., a private philanthropic foundation and one of the largest endowments in the country, announced $100 million in combined grants to Purdue on Jan. 9.

Purdue University President Mung Chiang underscored the effect both of those efforts will have on workforce development and job creation in the state.

These transformational grants from Lilly Endowment are historic in both magnitude and vision, Chiang said in a press release. Combined, the grants represent the largest gift in university history, injecting crucial momentum to the two intersecting initiatives: the Daniels School of Business and Purdue Computes.

Of that total, $50 million will go toward Purdue's Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and $50 million will go to Purdue Computes. Both of those are among the university's top strategic initiatives, according to a release.

With business education increasingly intertwined with employer demands for tech skills, the officials said in the release that the investments in Purdue Computes and the Daniels School of Business will complement each other.

Students joining the workforce must comprehend new technologies, but they must also be familiar with important business concepts such as organizational change, the impacts of change management, workforce transitions and industrial disruption and creation, Patrick J. Wolfe, Purdue provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity, said in the release.

Wolfe said Purdue Computes and the Daniels School will work together to help students prepare for a rapidly evolving, tech-heavy business landscape.

This strong bilateral connection between business and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education aims to be the first of its kind in the nation, Wolfe said.

Lilly Endowment Chairman and CEO N. Clay Robbins likewise underscored that the school's efforts hold great promise to strategically build connections between business education and the powerful technologies in computing, semiconductors and physical AI and thereby prepare Purdue students for effective leadership in business and other pursuits in a future of rapid technological change.

New Daniels Business School Building

The investment comes at a particularly critical time for the Daniels School of Business. The recently renamed and revamped business school had a banner year in 2023, with Purdue tapping James Bullard, the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and a leading economist, to become the re-envisioned school's first dean.

Purdue trustees recently signed off on $168 million for a new student-centered building for the business school. The 164,000-square-foot building will be paid for through gift funds and is set to be finished in 2027.

The Lilly Endowment funding will support that new building, according to the Purdue release.

We are thrilled to hear about Lilly Endowment's contribution to the construction of our new building, which will immediately become a campus centerpiece, Bullard said in the release.

This truly represents our next giant leap. We aim to prepare a new generation of business students to tackle the technology-driven challenges of today and tomorrow, and this new building will serve as a representation of our commitment and a beacon for future business leaders.

The Daniels school also received $50 million from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation last year to boost its undergraduate business program.

The Lilly Endowment's gift to support its new building isn't the only major development at the business school for 2024: David Malpass, who led the World Bank through the pandemic, is set to join Purdue as a fellow starting later this year.

Purdue Computes

Purdue is all in on artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, semiconductors, and other high-demand industries as part of its Purdue Computes initiative — and the Lilly Endowment's gift is set to further those efforts.

Of the $50 million heading to Purdue Computes, $20 million will go to the Birck Nanotechnology Center, including its Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory. That is one of the most advanced university cleanrooms in the world, according to the release, and renovations will include a dedicated student training bay and updated laboratory space.

Purdue will also use the funding to boost quantum research at that facility.

Another $20 million will launch the school's Institute for Physical Artificial Intelligence. That initiative was initially announced last year and will serve to both study AI and integrate the key emerging technology into the state's economy.

The final $10 million will serve workforce development in Indiana by boosting Purdue Computes efforts for students of all ages.

This support is essential to realizing the power of AI and computing in transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and life and health sciences and creating the workforce for the future that benefits Purdue students, our state and our nation, Purdue Executive Vice President for Research Karen Plaut said in the release.