The last four years have been busy for PNW

Several milestones over the last four years shaped the PNW experience and impacted students’ lives.


In June, Purdue Calumet and Purdue North Central officially unified and became the PNW we know today. That same year:

  • Thomas Keon became chancellor.
  • PNW entered into a partnership with Leadership Northwest Indiana to create a regional leadership resource center.
  • The university launched its women’s golf team.
  • PNW finished it’s first unified year with the opening of the Hessville Art Gallery.


Within a year of unification, PNW announced it would erect the first new academic building on its Hammond campus since 1997. The project included the construction of a bioscience building and demolition of the Gyte Annex, and was estimated to cost about $40.5 billion. Many students and staff were excited to see a brand-new building in the making.

  • PNW raised tuition by 1.4 percent. 
  • In April, a team of PNW engineering students won two awards at NASA’s 2017 Human Exploration Rover Challenge.
  • Pride men’s soccer became the first team to qualify for the GLIAC playoffs.


October was marked by students protesting a university decision to change the diploma it awards to add the word “Northwest”, to distinguish it from degrees handed out by Purdue in West Lafayette.

“Everyone was mad that the school wanted to change the diploma, specifically in the engineering department,” said Sergio Hernandez, a senior Mechanical Engineer major. “Everyone felt like they were, in a way, getting cheated.”

Hundreds of students showed up at meetings to complain about the proposed change.

 “These protests were organized by a whole bunch of student organizers, including The Social Justice Club,” said Natalia Salazar, a Spanish major in her third year. “It was crazy to see just how many people turned out and how many felt they were already being cheated out of an overdue education.”

But other news also occurred during the year, including:

  • In May, Brian “Boomer” Roberts became the second head men’s basketball coach in school history.
  • Men’s soccer coach Ryan Hayes earned the program’s first-ever Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honor.
  • Softball infielder Kyleigh Payne was named Softball Player of the Year after the Pride’s inaugural appearance at the GLIAC playoffs.
  • Baseball pitcher Kyle Freel was named GLIAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year.
  • In August, PNW’s Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center in Hammond opened a coworking space to help local manufacturing companies.


The most attention-getting story of the year was PNW’s full membership as an NCAA Division II school. That change culminated in a three-year transition from NAIA in 2016, during which the university had to demonstrate to NCAA that it was effectively integrating the Hammond and Westville campuses. The admission made PNW eligible for all Division II postseason competitions and for NCAA grant funding.

However, after such an action-packed year in 2018, in 2019 PNW officially joins NCAA Division II. This was exciting news for all sports fans and families and the PNW campus overall.

  • In April, Courtney Locke became head women’s basketball coach.
  • The men’s ice hockey team debuted.
  • Pride women’s and men’s cross country teams became the first PNW teams to qualify for NCAA championships.
  • In June, Hammond’s Byway Brewing released PNW Golden Mane Ale, a cream ale inspired by the Purdue Northwest Pride’s lion mascot.
  • In Fall 2019, the Pride set a school record with all 13 teams achieving a grade point average above 3.0.
  • PNW teamed up with the Argonne National Laboratory and ArcelorMittal to research how to most efficiently use reheat furnaces.


This year may have been one of the most challenging for students. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, PNW was forced to switch to electronic-learning to limit face-to-face contact for everyone’s safety.  The adjustment, which began in the spring semester, continued through the fall, when most classes were offered online. The switch may have contributed to a dip in enrollment, as some students chose to take a break from college until the situation normalized.

“I do not blame those students who took the semester of,” said Mason Crist, a senior Communication student studying public relations. “It was definitely hard to learn and focus … especially when everything was through a screen. It made me appreciate the classroom setting a lot more.”

Other big news included:

  • In February, College of Engineering and Sciences Dean Kenneth Holford was named provost.
  • In the fall, the Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building opened for classes, featuring state-of-the-art facilities.
  • In the spring, the Pride set a school record with a combined GPA of 3.43, 32 student-athletes had GPAs of 4.0 and 175 athletes had GPAs over 3.0.
  • The esports team launched.