As expected, the trustees of Purdue University named Dr. France Cordova as the next president of the institution Monday. Cordova comes to West Lafayette by way of the University of California at Riverside, where she served as chancellor. The 59-year-old also worked as NASA chief scientist, the youngest person and the first female to hold that post. While at NASA she worked on projects that included the Hubble Space Telescope. At a press conference following the trustee vote, Cordova outlined her vision for Purdue, saying she wanted to expand on the strategic plan put forward by outgoing President Martin Jischke, while remaining true to the founding mission of the school. Cordova says she wants to capitalize on the strengths of students, faculty, community, and state, and says she and her husband, Chris Foster, will attend various student events to get to know people better. She says she hopes to join Purdue’s local resources with a global mandate.
Cordova also joked about being back at a campus “with a football team,” saying her family has been rooting for the Nittany Lions of Penn State, where Cordova once served as head the department of astronomy and astrophysics. Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg says trustees and university officials will help the new president hit the ground running. Jischke has reached the university’s mandatory retirement age of 65, and will end his seven-year administration June 30.