Karen Plaut: A New Era in Purdue Agriculture

Karen Plaut: A New Era in Purdue Agriculture

What attracted me to Purdue was I
looked at the associate dean for research position at that time, so this
was 2009, and I looked at the job description and said, “Boy, does that look
like fun!” It was fun because it brought me beyond my background in animal
science to a broader spectrum. Research is absolutely wonderful and it’s a great
pursuit. At some point in my life I said, “I want to make a bigger difference.” I am
a first-generation American. My parents immigrated here and the importance of
that is they really started with nothing, they came to this country neither had
anything. They lived with a relative and started their careers, and that showed me
the importance of hard work, of really pushing yourself to continue to improve
so that you can move forward. One of the times when I moved, you know, I was kind
of complaining oh well never get used to this, and
my father said to me, “Well, don’t worry. In seven years it’ll feel like the right
place to be.” Seven years is a long time but for him you know have very heavy
accent, a heavy German accent, it took seven years for them to to move forward
or to continue to move forward and they never gave up. They continued to push
through for seven years until they felt like it
was their home, and I think that’s a really important lesson – to never
give up, to continue that hard work until you get to where you want to be. As interim dean one of the things I always say I was lucky. I got to try out the job
before I applied for it which is a really lucky opportunity. Everywhere you
go in Indiana there’s people to talk to about agriculture, about the agricultural
mission, and listen to what they need, and you have the opportunity to actually
address what people in the state need. So that was one part of it. Another part of
it I’ve had the opportunity again to talk to students. I always enjoy working
with students and have from day one, and really,
really enjoy sparking student’s interest that’s just for me really fun. When I was
deciding whether to apply for the Dean job I really did spend some time
reflecting on can I make a difference in the state that we need as we moved
forward? I felt like I had the qualifications that would make me
successful in this job and so I decided to apply. One thing I’ve learned as
a leader has never take it for granted. It’s a really important responsibility
because your responsibility is to others, not to yourself. I’ve also learned be true to
your goals and your vision. Never sacrifice your integrity. Those are
things that are really, really important. I think we’ve made progress on all
aspects of our strategic plan because we have such a great leadership team. They
each continue to move some of the goals of their part of the strategic
plan forward. Where the college’s headed is not just about me. It’s about us. So
it’s about our alumni, it’s about our stakeholders,
it’s about our faculty, it’s about our staff, and it’s about for students, and
it’s about the ideas that you can bring to the table and what you want to see
for your University. We have tremendous capacity in both our students, our
faculty, our staff, to meet the needs of the state, the country, and the world and
what we want to do is all come together and look at what’s important and help
move that forward. Innovation is a huge part of that. We can be in the front line
a leadership for the land grants of the 21st century.

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