Ten highlights from the 2023-24 academic year

June 13, 2024
Yung Gravy performs onstage while wearing a PNW Hockey jersey.

Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) 2023-24 academic year was marked by historic opportunities in academics and community impact, major designations reflecting university strategic initiatives, new feats for Pride Athletics, engaging and empowering student life events and much more.

Read about some of the best moments from the year that was.

Longtime leader Chris Holford takes the helm as PNW Chancellor

Purdue President Mung Chiang officially introduced Chris Halford as the new PNW Chancellor at the 2024 Excellence Evolving leadership celebration at our PNW Hammond campus.

Kenneth C. (Chris) Holford was named as the new chancellor of Purdue University Northwest by Purdue President Mung Chiang following a national candidate search. Holford transitioned into the role with nearly 25 years of experience at the Purdue Northwest campuses, starting as a Biology faculty member and advancing through various administrative roles.

During a leadership celebration under the banner of “Excellence Evolving,” Chancellor Holford and President Chiang lauded the university’s academic research and strategic initiatives that contribute to enhanced opportunities for PNW students and quality of life for the metropolitan region.

“I am proud to be part of a faculty that cares so deeply about the success of our students,” said Holford. “I think that is something that is foundational to this institution and we should always be reminded of why we are here — to help our students succeed in higher education and become good constituents of the world.”

Read More About Chancellor Holford

PNW becomes largest Hispanic-Serving Institution in Indiana

PNW is proud of our Hispanic and Latino students and provide resources to ensure they succeed in their personal and academic goals so that they can keep Powering Onward even after graduation.

The U.S. Department of Education granted Purdue University Northwest the title of Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) after meeting federal requirements.

The designation makes PNW the largest HSI in the state. PNW serves a student population with more than 25% of undergraduates who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino, with approximately 70% of those students additionally identifying as first-generation college students.

Higher education institutions designated as HSIs become eligible for several federal programs and grants intended to enhance academic, on-campus and professional development opportunities for all students.

“At PNW, we understand that the core responsibility of an HSI is to intentionally serve Latino students and their families by embracing the richness of each background and culture to enhance the student and family experience,” said Elizabeth Babcock Depew, vice chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “Hispanic-Serving Institution is not only a designation, it is a commitment to empowering students and their families through education and opportunity.”

Read More About PNW’s HSI Designation

PNW recognized for economic impact and high-quality academics

Recognized by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), PNW provides our local communities with high-quality academics from bachelor to doctoral programs.

Purdue University Northwest earned two key recognitions during the 2023-24 academic year that reflect its transformational local impacts and its high-quality academics at the graduate level.

Purdue University Northwest earned designation as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University (IEP) from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities following a rigorous review process. IEP designations are an acknowledgment for public research universities with strong evidence of collaboration with public and private sector partners to support economic development, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer talent and workforce development and community development.

Read More About PNW’s Economic Impact

PNW was also affirmed by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the university’s institutional accreditor, as a doctoral-granting institution following final approval of PNW’s Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) and substantive change in mission or student body. The HLC’s affirmation reflects PNW’s academic reputation for offering high-quality academic programs at advanced graduate levels.

Read More About PNW as a Doctoral-Granting Institution

Pride student-athletes earn historical milestones in several Athletics programs

The PNW Pride made historical strides individually and as a team across several sports in the 2023-24 year.

Purdue University Northwest student-athletes raised the bar (quite literally) with historical accomplishments in several sports.

Pride men’s soccer won its first-ever Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Championship. The victory helped the Pride also earn its first-ever berth to the NCAA Division II men’s soccer tournament.

Pride men’s ice hockey (American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I) also saw major post-season success by winning its first-ever Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League Championship. The win also propelled the Pride to the ACHA DI national tournament. The team finished in the tournament’s Elite Eight. Additional postseason honors went to Sam Bourdages, who was named ACHA DI National Player of the Year.

Several Pride track and field team members earned conference honors. Kiara Spates and JC Ramirez won the GLIAC women’s and men’s indoor Triple Jump championships. This marked Ramirez’s second consecutive indoor Triple Jump championship. He also went on to win his fourth outdoor Triple Jump championship. Ramirez, joined by high jumper D’Shawn Dorsey, qualified for the NCAA Division II men’s track and field championship.

Read More on Pride Student-Athletes’ Accomplishments from the 2023-24 Year

PNW integrally involved in renewable energy initiatives of national importance

Dedicated to solving real-world problems through pioneering techniques, the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS) at PNW has continuously proven itself with its success and granted federal funding.

Purdue University Northwest’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS), in collaboration with industry partners, earned considerable federal funding for renewable energy initiatives tied to federal goals of clean energy research and implementation.

CIVS is representing the Purdue University system as a major partner in the $1 billion Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2) hydrogen hub project. The hub is one of seven selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for funding to accelerate the domestic market for low-cost, clean hydrogen.

In the last three years, CIVS has been the leading organization for three large grants, with a total of $24 million funded by the DOE, for steelmaking energy efficiency and decarbonization projects.

“What CIVS has developed is a simulation system, artificial intelligence and machine learning to simulate what can happen, as well as go back and validate the research,” said Geri Richmond, DOE Under Secretary for Science and Innovation, during a spring visit to CIVS. “I have done a lot of simulations in my own research, but nothing to this level.”

More than 1,500 PNW graduates earn their degrees

PNW graduates’ academic success was awarded at our Spring 2024 Commencement where 1,229 baccalaureate degrees and 299 master’s degrees were earned.

Purdue University Northwest celebrated 1,528 graduates for completing their paths of study during ceremonies in fall 2023 and spring 2024. Collectively, the graduates included 1,229 who earned baccalaureate degrees and 299 who earned master’s degrees.

Seventeen graduates earned a Chancellor Medallion, recognizing their achievements for earning the highest grade point average in each of PNW’s five academic colleges.

“The community within PNW is the best. I have enjoyed every class I’ve taken, working with every professor and staff member and being part of every organization and committee. I truly found a home at PNW,” said Christopher Pabey, a 2024 Nursing graduate and first-generation student.

Read More About the Spring 2024 Graduates

Roaring Loud brings the noise

PNW’s annual Roaring Loud concert is the best way to finish the Spring semester with a bang. Headlines were made at PNW’s 2024 Roaring Loud with Yung Gravy as our featured artist.

Gravy!… Train!

Headliner Yung Gravy kept a crowd of more than 1,000 amped during Purdue University Northwest’s third annual Roaring Loud event. Roaring Loud is a campus tradition with a free outdoor concert for current and newly admitted students.

View Photos From Roaring Loud 2024

Purdue Northwest raises more than $2 million on PNW Day of Giving

For more than ten years, PNW’s Day of Giving has gathered support from the community and sponsors. This year, donor participation made a historical record of over 2,00 donations.

Generous donors to Purdue University Northwest contributed more than $2 million to support students during PNW’s 11th annual Day of Giving.

New historical records in terms of gifts were set, including over 2,000 donations during the 24-hour event. PNW ranked third among 74 participating units in the Purdue system for total gifts received and ninth among participating units in total dollars raised. Participation in PNW’s Day of Giving increased by 9% from 2023. Gifts to PNW support student scholarships, academic programs, Pride Athletics, student organizations and other strategic initiatives.

“Day of Giving brings together PNW alumni, leading businesses and charitable organizations, friends of the university from all over the world and our own students, faculty and staff to invest in our mission to transform lives and Northwest Indiana,” said Lisa Goodnight, vice chancellor of Institutional Advancement.

Read About PNW’s 11th Annual Day of Giving

Student life and cultural events celebrate the PNW campus community’s diversity

Diversity is what makes PNW who we are. In honor of that, our Cultural Heritage Celebration Committee helps facilitate nationally recognized cultural events on our campuses for our students to enjoy and celebrate.

A slate of on-campus programming recognized, celebrated and uplifted the diverse identities of the PNW campus community. PNW strives to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment that instills a sense of belonging for its students, faculty and staff.

PNW’s office of Educational Opportunity Programs hosted First-Generation Student Scholar Celebrations to recognize first-gen students. More than half of PNW’s undergraduate student body identifies as first-gen. PNW is also recognized as a First Scholars institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success.

PNW’s Cultural Heritage Celebration Committee and partnering units facilitated multiple events in tandem with national recognitions of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Black History Month, Juneteenth, Hispanic Heritage Month, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Native American Heritage Month, Pride Month and Women’s History Month.

Three impactful alumni inducted into PNW Alumni Hall of Fame

Success doesn’t stop at PNW for our graduates. This year, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., the Honorable Diane Kavadias-Schneider and Jeff Strack, President and CEO of Indiana Grocery Group, were each honored for their distinguished achievements in our Alumni Hall of Fame.

Purdue University Northwest welcomed three professionals to the PNW Alumni Hall of Fame. Those honored in the third annual class included Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., the Honorable Diane Kavadias-Schneider and Jeff Strack, President and CEO of Indiana Grocery Group.

PNW’s Alumni Hall of Fame honors alumni who are high-achieving leaders in their fields, involved members of their communities and who have engaged with PNW well beyond their time as students. PNW Alumni Hall of Fame inductees are enshrined in a set of plaques that decorate the walls of the Student Union and Library Building.

“I think that what I found that was remarkable was the engagement that my professors had with me —they were invested in my success,” Strack said. “You build lifelong relationships with your professors. I think that’s what sets PNW apart and that’s something that I’ll always remember.”

Read About the 2024 Hall of Fame Inductees