Seizing the Opportunity

BOP welcomes its 47th class of undergraduates

By the time wide-eyed Purdue freshmen began arriving on campus for Boiler Gold Rush the week before the fall semester, 20 new undergraduates in the Dr. Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program (BOP) were polishing their resumes and already looking forward to a successful college experience.

Their introduction to Purdue and the Krannert School had actually begun two months earlier through the BOP Summer Program, which in June 2015 welcomed its 47th entering class. And as both current students and alumni will attest, the experience was more of a transformation than an orientation.

Established in 1968 and led by its namesake from 1969 to 2005, the program was the first and most successful of its kind at a major business school and the first at Purdue. Today, nearly five decades since its founding, BOP remains true to its goal to increase diversity and give all students access to a world-class management education.

Under the leadership of Dr. Bell, who passed away in 2009, and Krannert’s current director of diversity initiatives, Darren Henry, BOP has recruited, enrolled, educated and provided support for more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students who are now enjoying successful business careers.

The undergraduate program begins with an eight-week summer session of 11 credit hours that all count toward graduation. Students take introductory courses to prepare them for their freshman year, while the relaxed atmosphere lets them acclimate to campus and assists in the transition from high school to college.

“The summer program gives students a support system that extends throughout their academic and professional careers,” Henry says. “They become part of an on-campus community and an off-campus family.”

The BOP summer session is funded exclusively by alumni gifts and corporate sponsorships, including tuition, books, materials and room and board. The top students in each year’s class also receive scholarships.

Students continue to benefit from the program for the duration of their college careers, including academic tutoring and social mentoring provided by upperclassmen, professional development presentations and workshops by BOP alumni and corporate representatives, as well as internship and full-time employment search support.

Henry says the impact of BOP is reflected in the nearly 90 percent graduation rate for its students, which compares to a national average of less than 50 percent for underrepresented student populations at other public universities in the U.S.

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