‘Excellence At Scale’: Purdue’s Big Plans For Business Education

Purdue University Board of Trustees chairman Mike Berghoff talks about the new Purdue School of Business at the Purdue President’s Council dinner in September. Berghoff is an undergraduate alum of the business school, and four of 10 of Purdue’s trustees graduated from the business school. Courtesy photo

To put Purdue University’s ambitious plans to expand and reshape its business education in context, think about it in four big buckets, says David Hummels, dean of the Krannert School of Management.

The first is Purdue’s long held philosophy of “excellence at scale,” the idea that to have true impact on the world, you need to reach enough people to enact it. In this regard, the business school plans to further increase its student enrollment (which is already up 33% since 2019 at the undergraduate level), hire more faculty and staff (up 50% in the last decade), and double its facility size in about four years.

The second bucket is to continue its focus on STEM-oriented degrees, building upon the success of its Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE) degree launched in fall 2021. And the third is centering the classical liberal approach in Purdue’s Cornerstone program as a way to think about business problems.

Finally, the new Purdue School of Business, as it is now called, will greatly expand its experiential and project-based learning so that it’s something all students can deeply engage in, not just the top 10% of superstars. Think undergraduate research opportunities, corporate consulting, and more.

“We want these to be things that all of our students experience,” Hummels tells Poets&Quants.


David Hummels

On September 23, Purdue announced its “next big move,” a reimagined, re-engineered business program with a new name: the Purdue School of Business. The announcement was timed as the last big initiative to be unveiled under university president Mitch Daniels’ decade-long tenure, though conversations have been ongoing for several years. Mung Chiang, Purdue University’s president-elect, dean of engineering, and executive vice president of strategic initiatives will take the reins of Purdue University effective January 1, 2023.

The reimagining will come with substantial university investment along with a major fundraising effort that will bring new renaming possibilities in the coming months for the program as a whole. Graduate programs will continue to use the Krannert moniker, Hummels says.

The new school will build upon the success of a series of recent cap feathers, including a highly-ranked business analytics program, its new Dean V. White Real Estate Finance program, and a $10-million gift from Marshall and Susan Larsen for its innovative Larsen Leaders Academy.

“The analogy I’ve been using, and one that I may be way too in love with, is if you look at the Fortune 500 in 1962 when Krannert was founded, it was steel firms, oil firms, plastics and cars, and industrial conglomerates. Very few of the firms that are at the top of the Fortune 500 today even existed in 1962,” says Hummels.

“So, as we think about preparing students, the challenge is that we have no idea what the most important firms will look like 20 or 30 or 40 years from now. We are preparing students for industries that don’t even exist. The answer to doing that lies with preparing students to be problem solvers who can operate between STEM and business disciplines.”

Poets&Quants spoke with dean Hummels to learn more about the major changes coming for business education at Purdue University. Our conversation, presented below, has been edited for length and clarity.

Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management

What is the timeline for this rollout? Has the name officially changed, or is this the start of a longer rollout?

The Krannert name that we’ve been using was originally tied to a gift in 1962 for the Graduate School of Industrial Administration, and it never covered undergraduate programs or the larger effort. Sometime in the mid ’80s, the dean at the time decided that, for the sake of simplicity, to call everything Krannert. So, we’ve just used that even though, technically speaking, our undergraduates are not Krannert management grads.

The way this is going to work is that there will be a named overall school of business under which there will be Krannert graduate programs and then undergraduate programs. It’s possible that there may be some additional naming, both for the overall school as well as the undergraduate programs, and I anticipate that will probably be settled sometime around the February timeframe.

So graduate programs will still be under the Krannert School of Management?

Yes. Krannert School of Management within a larger Purdue School of Business.

I read you’re also looking to double the size of the business school facility itself. Tell us more about that.

The first piece of this is that we’ve grown pretty significantly in terms of our enrollment and our staff and faculty. Our faculty headcount in the last decade is up about 50%, and our student enrollments on the undergraduate side have gone from 2,400 to 3,100 in the last few years. Moving forward, we’re going to take the undergraduate enrollments up to something like 4,000 majors, and our goal is for one out of every five Purdue students from outside the business school to graduate with a minor with us. That’s on the order of another 2,000 students.

A rendering of expansion and renovation plans for the new Purdue School of Business. (Illustration by Ayers Saint Gross)

As for grad programs, when they were entirely residential, they were something on the order of 400 students a year. Now that we offer online programs we’re around 1,100 to 1,200 graduate students. Our goal is to take that north of 2,000 students.

So if you think about all of that enrollment growth, we will add a very substantial number of staff and faculty. What we like to talk about at Purdue is excellence at scale: You don’t have any sort of impact in the world if you have an excellent program that serves 10 people.

The facility will house a lot of that activity, but it will also be very focused on modern active learning pedagogies, innovation labs, a lot unique spaces that create interactivity – both student to student and student to faculty, and also interactions with external partners, whether that’s other units on campus or corporate partners.

And what is the timeline for this facility expansion?

In the announcement made last month, we referenced the fact that over the 10 years that Mitch Daniels has been president at Purdue, we have launched a number of major initiatives that we call Purdue’s Big Moves. These were dramatic expansion moves around things like Data Science and Engineering, plant science, transformative education, and so on. This is, in some sense, the last major move that President Daniels will engage in over his decade-long tenure.

In terms of timeline, we hope to have the new facility online probably by fall of 2026. So some of the enrollment in faculty and staff growth has to be tied a little bit to the new space. But, I’ll tell you, if we have the same amount of growth in our student enrollments that we’ve had the last few years, we’ll hit those numbers in probably four to five years.

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