Celebrating PNW’s legacy


Sergio Valdes

Honorees are recognized for their decades of service at PNW at the 2019 Founders Day ceremony.

PNW’s annual Founders Day returned for its third year to acknowledge and commemorate the university’s past, present and future. The March 1 ceremony recognized notable PNW members in administrative leadership, faculty, student service, administrative staff, clerical staff and service staff at the Westville campus’ DSSAC.

Richard Rupp, chief of staff, opened the ceremony by reminiscing about his journey from college student to political science professor, attributing his growth to both his drive to serve the PNW community and the support of his professors. He then welcomed Chancellor Thomas L. Keon to the stage.

Keon began by comparing the growth of PNW to the clay pottery process. He said that the first phase in the pottery process involves working with coils, which represents “pre-PNW” due to the difficult nature of the university’s beginnings.

“The second phase usually is dealing with slabs of clay, and that’s kind of where we’ve been over the last three years,” Keon said.

He further explained how the clay is then slowly shaped through equipment and other resources, once again utilizing an analogy for PNW’s development over the past few years.

“Those slabs have been procedures, policies and directions that everybody has to deal with,” Keon said.

He then continued to explain the third phase, the wheel, where the clay is slowly formed and molded. Keon said that this is where PNW is currently headed.

“The very difficult first step of the wheel is to center the clay,” he said.

Keon then talked about the Imagine PNW initiative and its strategic resource allocation stage, and how the strategic planning stage is set to begin soon. He also mentioned that a new budgeting process will be a component of the strategic planning process, which will be spearheaded by 30 people, at least half of them being faculty members.

“When people talk about universities in the Greater Chicago area, and they start listing those universities, my goal is to make sure that Purdue Northwest is on their list,” Keon said.

Following Keon’s opening remarks was a slideshow presented by Rupp and Lisa Goodnight, vice chancellor of Institutional Advancement, which chronicled PNW’s history through the lens of the student newspaper from the 1960s through the present day. Goodnight also mentioned that she worked for the newspaper when she was a student.

Some of the presentation highlights included a 1960s article detailing the announcement of a university basketball team and a 1980s article discussing the beginning of the liberal arts department.

“The Pioneer and all other student organizations at PNW play an important role in student retention and success,” said Goodnight. “I would not be standing here today as a member of the Chancellor’s cabinet if I had not been on the student newspaper.”

She further commended the PNW student organizations for embracing cultural diversity and encouraging exploration of new activities and events to provide students with plentiful opportunities to forge strong and healthy relationships with faculty and staff.

To conclude the ceremony, various individuals were recognized for their dedication and hard work via how many years they have been with the PNW community.