Commercial air service plans, financial report presented to Purdue Senate

President Mitch Daniels shared his goal of bringing commercial air service to Tippecanoe County. The university CFO also shared the outlook for FY21 with the Senate.

Posted: Jan 25, 2021 8:06 PM
Updated: Jan 26, 2021 6:06 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Purdue leaders presented several important topics to the Purdue Senate Monday afternoon.

President Mitch Daniels started by sharing his goal of bringing commercial air service to Tippecanoe County. At about 70 miles away from the Indianapolis International Airport, Purdue is at the bottom of the Big 10 schools list for distance away from a commercial airport, and he wants to change that.

Completed Purdue Archway on the corner of State and Grant Streets

He said the county, the City of West Lafayette and the university have been making important strides over the past few years to prepare for such an endeavor.

He began with the State Street renovation, a collaborative project between Purdue and West Lafayette to improve the connection between the two entities, as well as the connection to the Lafayette side of the Wabash. It improved transportation safety and brought new business to the center of West Lafayette.

State Street improvement has led to the buildup of the Discovery Park District, Research Park and the Aerospace District. All have brought jobs, people and prominent corporations to West Lafayette, such as SAAB, Bayer and Rolls-Royce. Those corporations are putting investment back into Purdue undergraduate and graduate students by offering training, internships and experience.

All have contributed the county's population to grow. President Daniels presented data to the Senate showing Tippecanoe County's population has steadily grown over the past decade. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the county's population was around 172,000 in 2010, and had grown to 195,000 by 2019.

President Daniels wants to pursue federal grants to help bring commercial flights to the Purdue Airport. However, population size dictates that ability, and currently, Tippecanoe County is still not where it needs to be to get approval. He hopes that attracting a few more SAAB-caliber businesses to the area would solidify the community's case for commercial air service.

After his presentation, Purdue CFO Chris Ruhl also presented a financial update to the Senate.

He said the university's plan this fiscal year is to sacrifice any budget surplus and instead break even. They expect about $2.09 billion in revenue and expenses.

COVID has caused Purdue to shift some of its budget focus. Ruhl said the Protect Purdue Center has gotten a significant amount of funding. He said funding is down overall by about 3% from Fiscal Year 20.

However, stimulus money from the federal government has helped. The university put $11.3 million of the CARES Act money towards student aid, and another $11.3 million towards COVID expenses. The plan for most recent stimulus passed by congress this month is to put another $11.3 million towards student aid and $21.2 million towards COVID expenses.

Some potential risks Ruhl listed include student enrollment and retention, which he said so far are on par with the previous year. A prolonged recession and decrease in philanthropy are also potential concerns.

Some opportunities the university is looking at though include growth in online classes, shifting to more virtual work, Purdue Global increasing its operating income and more federal grants.

Some goals the university has for Fiscal Year 21 are to resume merit raises for staff, hire more faculty and continue the tuition freeze.

The next Purdue Senate meeting will be on February 15th.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 657037

Reported Deaths: 12450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion901321624
Lake48105871
Allen35552632
Hamilton31839393
St. Joseph29538510
Elkhart25261412
Vanderburgh21115377
Tippecanoe19765197
Johnson16242352
Porter15838267
Hendricks15723296
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Madison11672314
Vigo11503228
Monroe10248158
Delaware9788178
LaPorte9720194
Howard9017194
Kosciusko8514107
Bartholomew7373147
Warrick7369146
Hancock7362128
Floyd7139164
Wayne6586188
Grant6395157
Morgan6040124
Boone603388
Dubois5868111
Dearborn540266
Henry539492
Marshall5390104
Cass537199
Noble506775
Jackson462063
Shelby458490
Lawrence4154111
Gibson399681
Harrison395160
Clinton392353
DeKalb382078
Montgomery381583
Knox354484
Miami354063
Whitley346235
Huntington338176
Steuben335955
Wabash328775
Putnam325959
Ripley325161
Adams320249
Jasper312943
White295351
Jefferson292770
Daviess284296
Fayette270255
Decatur269388
Greene259978
Posey259731
Wells255374
Scott248446
LaGrange240170
Clay238944
Randolph225076
Spencer215830
Jennings213544
Washington207727
Sullivan202038
Fountain200341
Starke185950
Owen181652
Jay177328
Fulton176437
Carroll175618
Perry172435
Orange170450
Rush163922
Franklin158335
Vermillion158040
Tipton145441
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Pike127232
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Pulaski105643
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Benton91113
Crawford90113
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Warren74612
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Ohio52711
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