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A Legacy of Leadership

~by Bo Beaulieu, Ph.D.
Professor of Rural & Regional Development
Purdue Center for Regional Development & Department of Agricultural Economics


As I write this brief column, I do so with some sadness since I will be officially retiring from Purdue on Feb. 1, 2021.  When I came to Purdue in 1973 to enter the MS/PhD program, little did I know that I would finish my career at the very place that instilled in me the passion for community development.  I just want you to know that I have cherished my time at Purdue, including the interactions and working relationships I have built with many of you over the past eight years.

As I think back on the state of Purdue Extension Community Development (CD) in 2013 compared to where the program is today, it is both amazing and gratifying to see the growth, value and impact this program area has experienced.  There are countless people, communities, organizations and agencies that have been touched by our community development work, and they have come to recognize the critical importance of the mix of educational programs and technical assistance/capacity-building activities that Purdue’s Extension educators and specialists provide.

While I don’t intend to pontificate, I do expect the need for Purdue Extension CD work will intensify in the years ahead because of the emerging challenges and opportunities impacting the future well-being of Indiana communities.  In my opinion, the network of regional and county-based CD educators and specialists we have in Indiana today is among the best I have seen in my 43+ years in Extension.  It is my fondest hope that the number of educators and specialists with a CD appointment will continue to expand in the years ahead.

Under the leadership of Michael Wilcox and Kara Salazar, two individuals who care deeply about Extension, the CD program area will continue to address the diverse and changing needs of our Extension stakeholders. I’m proud to have made a modest contribution to the Purdue Extension CD program during my tenure as program leader and to have worked with an exceptional group of administrators, as well as state, regional and county Extension colleagues. We have built one of the premier Extension CD programs in the nation, and with Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development as key partners at Purdue, the sky is the limit as to what this program area can achieve in the years ahead.

While I am retiring, I will return in March on a part-time basis to work on projects with Purdue Center for Regional Development colleagues. I am hopeful that our paths will cross at some point in the coming year. Wishing you the best in 2021.

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