Scope and Contents
The collection at Purdue University Libraries – Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections consists of 1 series in 21 boxes dating from 1865 – 2006 as well as volumes apart of the electronic or e-archives. Each box contains meeting minutes outlined in an index contained in a binder with a set of indexes outlining the topics and people in attendance. The Board of Trustees minutes documents many key events of Purdue University’s history such as the beginnings of the University, the 50th anniversary commencement, and other key moments to take note of. The trustees delegate many of their responsibilities to the president of the University; he in turns delegates them to vice presidents, chancellors, deans, and so on. The trustees approve the entire budget of the University and thus plan how Purdue’s money is allocated and spent. The Board of Trustees additionally vote and appoint the new University President. Other responsibilities include naming buildings, establishment of new schools and departments within the University. This position is unpaid and members meet as a board at six called sessions annually – usually at the West Lafayette Campus, sometimes at a regional campus. They also can call special meetings as needed.
Biographical or Historical Information
The Board of Trustees has been around since 1865 – since the Indiana General Assembly on March, 6, 1865, accepted the agreement of the Morrill Act of Congress in order to establish a land-grant college or university in Indiana. Ten men or women sit on the Board of Trustees and are the representatives of the people of the state of Indiana (Johnston and Hand, 13). They propose the question “Is the university carrying out its mission competently, honestly and economically?” (Topping, IX).
In the special session of the Indiana General Assembly – called on April 8, 1869 – and finally passed on May 6, 1869 – was the bill fathered by Senator Stein of Lafayette accepting the gifts of $15,000 in cash and one hundred acres of land from John Purdue and $50,000 from Tippecanoe County for establishment of Purdue University (Johnston and Hand, 17). The first meeting of the Board of Trustees as “The Board of Trustees of Purdue University” was on May 25, 1869 at the Lahr Hotel in Lafayette (Johnston and Hand, 17). At this same moment John Purdue was made a life member of the Board and if we were to cease being an active member he could continue to serve the board in an advisory capacity.
Since this first meeting of the Board of Trustees, various individuals have served the board. Such jobs have included farmers, business owners, individuals in legislative positions, authors, office holders of the University, and a wide array of other occupations. In contemporary meetings, even a student may serve on the Board of Trustees. Throughout the years through the Board of Trustees various administration and legislation laws have been passed for the betterment of the University. The Board of Trustees continues to hold meetings and work with the University to this very day.
The Book of Trustees Purdue University 1865 – 1989; Compiled and Edited by Robert W. Topping
The Trustees and the Officers of Purdue University 1865 – 1940; Prepared by Thomas R. Johnston and Helen Hand (Number 1 of ‘The Archives of Purdue’)
Note written by