Chancellor Emeriti Howard Cohen (2001-11) speaks about some of the history of the university in Alumni Hall at Purdue University Calumet during the Founders Day celebration Feb. 25, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~For Sun-Times Media
Highlights in Purdue University Calumet’s History
1945-46 The Purdue University Technical Extension Center began operating in Hammond, East Chicago and Gary. Headquarters were in the Hammond Board of Education Building on Hohman Avenue, with administration offices at the Hammond Civic Center on Sohl Avenue. In addition to these buildings, area high schools also were used to offer degree credit courses. Eleven faculty members oversaw the all-male student body, which numbered less than 100.
1947 Women began to enroll in classes taught by 12 full-time instructors and one part-time teacher.
1948 Organizing the purchase of the original 40 acres in the Woodmar section of Hammond was the focus of the school’s first resident director, Millard E. Gyte.
1949 Purchasing mission accomplished, groundbreaking for a permanent campus took place.
1950 Chairman of the Purdue Calumet Campus advisory committee E. D. Anderson was instrumental in selecting the campus site. Official designation of the school became Purdue University Calumet Center.
1951 As the first permanent structure on campus, the Millard E. Gyte Science Building was constructed at a cost of $500,000.
1954 The Gyte Annex, which was known as the Industrial Research Building, opened with a portion leased as research laboratory space to local steelmaker Inland Steel. Practical nurse training was offered, with 86 students registering for this new course.
1959 Full-time faculty numbers 40. The Purdue Calumet campus faced financial concerns due to low enrollment in the face of a lengthy steel strike. Purdue President Frederick Hovde added $25,000 to the budget, which helped to keep the campus doors open.
1962 Non-degree credit offering of the Technical Institutes gave way to credit offerings within the School of Technology and two-year associate degree program. To signify status as a regional campus, the official school name became Purdue University Calumet Campus.
1963 The Gyte Building addition completed at a cost of $2.5 million.
1965 Purdue Calumet received its first legislative appropriation: $1 million for the operating budget, and $4.5 million for a central heating and power plant and the construction of the E. D. Anderson Building near the corner of 169th Street and Woodmar Avenue. Complete Baccalaureate degree programs were approved.
1967 Purdue Calumet’s first commencement found 39 bachelor’s degrees conferred.
1968 A major milestone in university development — full accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools — was achieved.
1969 Ground broken for Audrey Potter Laboratory Building. Potter was a former dean of the Purduce School of Engineering.
1970 Construction of Student-Faculty Library Center.
1973 Construction of Lawshe Hall, a classroom/office building. Named after C. H. Lawshe, considered the “father” of the Purdue modern regional campus system.
1974-75 Women’s Studies program formally established. Enrollment increased to 5,881 commuting students.
1976 Enrollment expands to 6,883 students. Programs available for 37 types of bachelor’s degrees; 11 types of associate degrees, and 12 master’s degree programs.
1979 The university was re-named Purdue University Calumet.
1980 Porter Hall, a former Hammond school called Porter Elementary, was purchased from the city of Hammond and utilized as classroom and office space. Physical Education/Recreation building constucted at cost of $4.5 million. Student enrollment: 7,810.
1985 Administrative structure of academic schools was revised, resulting in the creation of the School of Professional Studies and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
1986 Purdue University Calumet celebrates 40 years in existence. More than 7,000 people participated in 42 events during the year-long celebration on campus.
1988 A precedent-setting baccalaureate degree program in philosophy was initiated cooperatively between Purdue Calumet and Indiana University Northwest. This was the first time both institutions collaborated in such an academic venture.
1989 $4.5 million Computer Education Building opens, centralizing computer resources on campus, while expanding Purdue Calumet’s role as a regional computing leader of technological education, applied research and educational efforts on campus and outreach activities off campus.
1992 Student body set a record number — 9, 496 enrolled in fall classes. Charlotte R. Riley Childcare Center opens on campus, construction cost was $800,000. Smoke-free policy adopted; smoking prohibited in all campus buildings.
1995 Training began for local business owners in Purdue Calumet’s new Entrepreneurship Center. New associate degree program in emergency medical services is offered in partnership with St. Anthony Medical Center. Dual credit agreement established with Lake Central High Shool and Munster High School. Purdue Calumet’s half-century celebration takes place with the theme: “50 years of people, Partnerships and Progress.”
2000 Conference Center located at south end of campus opens for meetings.
2005 First building in the three-phase construction of student housing University Village opens. Second building opens two years later, with a third planned.
2011 Conference Center is renovated to accommodate classrooms for hospitality and tourism management students, complete with kitchen and lab equipment. Restaurant located inside the building, run by students and open to the public, offers lunch and dinner. New HTM Building was made possible by a donation from the White Foundation.
— Provided by Purdue University Calumet
Updated: April 13, 2013 6:06AM
After almost seven decades in Northwest Indiana, Purdue University Calumet continues to experience the ultimate in school spirit.
This was evident recently when the campus celebrated its 67th birthday with a daylong Founders Day event.
“Our entire family — myself, my husband and our children — attended Purdue, so we wanted to be part of today’s fun,” said Janet King, of Crown Point, as she waited on 169th Street and Woodmar Avenue for the afternoon parade to begin. “They used to call this ‘the Extension Campus’ back in the day, but it’s grown into so much more.”
The birthday party started off in the morning with trivia contests and entertainment in the Student Union Library building. Games continued there throughout the day.
The Fitness Center offered free admission for students, faculty, staff and visitors. After a parade, a program in Alumni Hall, complete with birthday cake, welcomed two previous school chancellors.
Building on the past
Carl Elliot served Purdue Calumet as professor from 1959-73, and became the first chancellor in 1974.
He related his first arrival at the “brand spanking new Gyte building,” which at one time was the first and only permanent structure on campus grounds.
“The beginnings of this university revolved around dedicated people. Many instrumental in starting off on the right foot,” he told those gathered in Alumni Hall. “This (Founders Day) is a great occasion — I can almost remember those beginnings.”
Howard Cohen, chancellor from 2000 to 2010, also spoke to the crowd. He talked about the need for higher education after World War II and the GI Bill, and opportunities offered locally.
“Returning soldiers were able to get the help they needed,” Cohen said. “Purdue University Calumet was in excellent condition to offer that education.”
Current Chancellor Thomas Keon concurred.
“We will continue to build on the past,” he said. “We are at the forefront in the development of education now and for the future.”
School departments, organizations and groups entered the parade on floats and in cars, as well as walking the route. Awards were given for various entries, as well as the decorating contest following the chancellors’ remarks.
Co-workers in the PUC Education Department picked up honors for the Best Decorated Office, which prominently displayed various items of black and gold, Purdue’s school colors.
“We did work hard on this project, but it was a lot of fun, and we wanted to show our school spirit,” said Virginia Rhodes of the Graduate School of Education. “Having an event such as Founders Day is a wonderful way for everyone to participate, while they learn about Purdue Calumet’s past and present achievements.”
This was the school’s first Founders Day celebration, according to event organizers Matt Dudzik, assistant athletic director and director of intramurals; and Sheryl Corey, from the Advancement Department.
Official status as a university was awarded Feb. 25, 1946. “I thought that this is an important date and moment in our school history that needs to be celebrated,” Dudzik said. “Our goal (with this event) is to bring the campus together to celebrate this university and its past, present and bright future.”
In addition to the activities around campus, the University Archives and Special Collections installed a “Walk Thru History of Purdue University Calumet” display on the third floor of the Student Union Library building.
Fireworks served as the day’s grand finale.
“We live nearby and Purdue Calumet has always been a good neighbor,” said Mary Jarneke, as she watched the fireworks display with her husband Jim. “This college has been a good thing for a lot people, I hope they keep it up.”