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Generosity Ignites Mathematical Excellence at Purdue University

Barbara Kile

Barbara Kile, a distinguished Purdue alumna who has left an indelible mark on the field of mathematics, continues to shape the future of the discipline through her generous contributions. In recognition of her outstanding achievements and her deep gratitude for the mentorship she received at Purdue, Kile has established the Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics, aimed at celebrating exceptional assistant or associate professors within the Department of Mathematics.

The first recipient of this prestigious professorship is Isaac Harris, who assumed the title of the Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics on January 1, 2023. Irena Swanson, the head of the mathematics department, commends Harris for his significant theoretical contributions in the field of inverse problems, particularly in relation to transmission eigenvalue problems and direct sampling methods. At Purdue, he has displayed versatility as an educator, having taught a diverse range of courses spanning from introductory calculus for first-year undergraduates to advanced graduate-level classes.

Kile acknowledges the pivotal role played by Purdue professors in shaping her passion for mathematics and physics. Their mentorship and encouragement laid the foundation for her successful career, which culminated in her role as the Division Director of Strategic & Information Programs at the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense. In expressing her gratitude, Kile said, “Helping the Purdue math department retain an outstanding young faculty member through my sponsorship of a New Frontiers Professorship is a particularly good way to show my gratitude.”

To express her deep gratitude and contribute to the continued success of the mathematics department, she chose to sponsor the New Frontiers Professorship and associate it with her maiden name, Barbara A. Kunze. Kile explains her decision to create the endowment under this name by explaining that “that was the name I was known by at Purdue and because my father, Elmer G. Kunze, was a high school physics teacher and the single most important influence on my life.”

The Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics embodies the values and ideals that Kile holds dear. It aims to provide leadership in the realms of discovery, learning, and engagement within the mathematical sciences. The initial award spans three years, with the option for an additional two years of support, further empowering the chosen professor to make impactful contributions to their field.

Purdue University’s distinguished and named professorships celebrate exceptional faculty members whose accomplishments in research, teaching, and engagement have garnered international recognition. Through the establishment of the Barbara A. Kunze New Frontiers Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Barbara Kile continues to shape the landscape of mathematics education and ensure that future generations of students benefit from the same level of mentorship and support that propelled her to greatness.

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Patsy J. Mellott

BS College of Health and Human Sciences, 1969
Fishers, IN

Patsy earned a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition in business from Purdue in 1969, in addition to an MBA in food marketing from Michigan State University in 1970. She retired from Kraft Foods in 2006 after 36 years in corporate food marketing and marketing communications management.

A community volunteer, Patsy serves on the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana Advisory Board and the Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences Dean’s Leadership Council, in addition to the President’s Council Advisory Board. She is a former member of the Health and Human Sciences Alumni Board. Patsy held several offices from 2006 through 2013, including president and treasurer. She serves her community’s Discover Indianapolis Club in Fishers, holding several leadership roles for over 10 years.

Patsy has received several honors, including the Purdue University Nutrition Science Department Hall of Fame recipient in 2009 and the Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. She also received the college’s Gold and Black Award in 2016, an honor reserved for donors who have moved the college forward by committing exceptional financial resources.

In addition to endowing two scholarships, the Patsy J. Mellott Scholarship and Patsy J. Mellott HHS Scholarship, she established the Patsy J. Mellott Teaching Innovation Award in the College of Health and Human Sciences in 2013. In 2015, she endowed the Patsy J. Mellott Women’s Tennis Coach Performance Award. She is a lead donor in the Christine M. Ladisch Faculty Leadership Award and the Purdue Women’s Network Virginia C. Meredith Scholarship for the College of Health and Human Sciences.