FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Fifty years ago, Helen Bass Williams, the first African American professor at Purdue University, played a leading role in establishing the Learning Center, now the Academic Success Center, on the West Lafayette campus.

On Friday (Aug. 5), Purdue’s Board of Trustees approved changing the name of that facility to the Helen Bass Williams Academic Success Center.

Williams, who worked at Purdue from 1968-78, also helped create the Africana studies program (now the African American studies program) and the Black Cultural Center. She was an assistant professor in French and served as an academic counselor for minority students in the School of Humanities, Social Science, and Education. Her roles as an educator, mentor and advocate have had a positive impact on moving Purdue forward.

Located in Wiley Hall, the Helen Bass Williams Academic Center provides undergraduate students opportunities to develop transferable academic skills, enhance learning, increase retention and improve overall student success via academic consultations, peer success coaching, supplemental instruction, workshops, study skills courses, online resources and practice test experiences.

In other action, the board approved resolutions of appreciation for those who recently contributed $1 million or more to the university. Those are:

* James and Diann Robbers, to support the Purdue Center for Cancer Research.

* J. David Schweikle, to support the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

* The estate of John (d. 2014) and Ellen (d. 2021) Ford, to support Purdue University.

* Phyllis Melick, to support the Purdue Center for Cancer Research.

In recognizing these donors, trustees further approved the naming of the Schweikle Aero/Astro Research Labs at the Hypersonics and Applied Research Facility (HARF). This approximately 10,600-square-foot space will house the Hypersonics Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center. Purdue has nearly 40 world-renowned researchers in hypersonics and among the most comprehensive hypersonics research capabilities in the country, including navigation, aerodynamics, aerothermal effects propulsion, autonomy, system engineering, high-temperature materials and manufacturing.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Sources: Jay Akridge

April Headdy

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Purdue trustees approve naming of Helen Bass Williams Academic Success Center and Schweikle Aero/Astro Research Labs, resolutions of appreciation

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