Mitch Daniels and Jeff Immelt

Purdue President Mitch Daniels and GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt set the stage for a new era of partnerships between industry and academia during a unique talk in October titled "Meeting Our Challenges: A Conversation. Students, faculty and others in the Purdue community nearly filled Loeb Playhouse in Stewart Center. (Photo by Vincent Walter.)

Purdue, GE partnership moves forward

Daniels, Immelt hold public discussion on innovation, talent

One of the most talked-about leaders in higher education shared a unique conversation with a man deemed one of the “World’s Best CEOs” three times by the financial magazine Barron’s.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels and GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt sat down Oct. 3 to talk about new models of interaction between industry and academia and specifically how the company and the University can work together on pressing global problems.

The talk, titled “Meeting Our Challenges: A Conversation,” nearly filled Loeb Playhouse in Stewart Center with students, faculty and others. It concluded with a question and answer period from the audience.

GE has been the top employer of Purdue graduates over the past five-year period. Earlier in the day Immelt spent time talking with students, faculty and staff about the importance of the continued partnership between GE and Purdue, which is focused on the education of a global workforce, talent development and continued innovation through research — all themes Daniels and Immelt discussed on stage.

“Businesses have to do more direct connect with universities,” Immelt said, noting that GE planned to establish new, long-term partnerships with universities that are completely aligned in addressing “big themes” and pressing problems. Universities, he added, would need to “elevate” in furthering new models of interaction.

Immelt heaped high praise on Purdue's culture of innate curiosity, hard work, humility and team building. “I tell professors, ‘You're in the product development business like I am.’ And your product is pretty damn good,” he said.

“Every successful person I've ever met has been a learner, has had a certain sense of humility, has a sense of teamwork and has an incredible sense of the ability to get the most out of themselves and others. That’s what we've seen at Purdue, and that is much appreciated. There is nothing that ever replaces smart and hard working,” he said.

Immelt said companies such as GE need institutions like Purdue to remain competitive. “Education is going to be invaded,” Immelt said. “There will be some real winners and losers in terms of how advanced education takes place in this country.”

1 | 2