Purdue University - Department of Computer Science - Lawson Dedication Proved to be Both High Tech and Highly Touching

Lawson Dedication Proved to be Both High Tech and Highly Touching


Susanne's speech

Friday, September 15th marked the official opening and dedication of the Richard and Patricia Lawson Computer Science Building at Purdue University. Construction of the 100,000 square foot, $20 million building started in October 2004 and was funded through $13 million from the state of Indiana and $7 million raised from 289 private donors.

Susanne Hambrusch, department head and professor of computer science, kicked off the formal dedication ceremony and welcomed the over 300 visitors who filled the commons, gallery and staircase. In addition to Jeffrey Vitter, the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and professor of computer science, President Martin C. Jischke and two computer science undergraduates welcomed the guests and talked about the impact of the new building on computer science, the students, and the university.   President Jischke introduced two major donors, Richard and Patricia Lawson and Heddy Kurz.

Dean with the Lawsons

Richard Lawson, a software industry executive who received his master's degree in computer science from Purdue in 1968, and his wife, Patricia, gave $4.7 million, the largest single private contribution. He credits Purdue with teaching him the know-how to think about computer science and to adjust to the many changes in technology over the years. Currently, Richard is the chairman of Lawson Software, Inc., which he co-founded with his brother Bill and one colleague John Cerullo in 1975. Lawson Software began as a consulting business, and in the past thirty years has flourished into a $364-million company providing business software to large and mid-sized organizations in healthcare, retail, professional services, the public sector, financial services, and other strategic markets.

Heddy Kurz is a long time supporter and friend of Purdue. Her late husband, Herman, earned his degree in electrical engineering from Purdue. The Herman and Heddy Kurz Lobby features a 10-foot tall, stainless steel sculpture by Indiana artist John Mishler with touch screens to offer directions and information to visitors. The lobby also houses a display case with Purdue memorabilia from Heddy Kurz’s collection.

Faculty, students, staff, donors, and visitors watched as two giant USB connectors were joined together by Susanne Hambrusch, President Jischke, the students, Heddy Kurz, and Richard and Patricia Lawson, to symbolize the Lawson Building's immersion into the official landscape of Purdue.

Dean with Kurz

After the dedication ceremony, guests were invited to participate in a self-guided tour throughout the building. During their tours, visitors could observe a video in the Kurz lobby documenting the construction of the building.  Open areas allowed all to see the computing infrastructure that fuels the Lawson labs. Faculty and students had over 60 posters distributed throughout the building and research labs offered demos and video presentations of on-going research projects.  Many donors and their families visited the areas named in their honor.  

The afternoon program started with a talk by Richard Lawson entitled, "The Future of Business Enterprise Software". The talk was followed by an Alumni Panel made up of former CS graduates Alan Hevner (Phd ’79), Curt Worsey (BS ’80), Anne Showe (BS ’72), Mitchell Springer (BS ’81), and Kevin Kahn (Phd ’76). 

  • Alan Hevner is an Eminent Scholar and Professor in the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department at the University of South Florida, where he holds the Citigroup/Hidden River Chair of Distributed Technology.  He is currently on a two-year assignment at the National Science Foundation serving as a Program Director in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate.

  • Anne Schowe graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Purdue in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in Computer Science. From 1972 until 2000, she built a wide-ranging career in the computer industry culminating in her position as Vice President for Major Account Quality at Sun Microsystems.  Anne is now retired from Sun and enrolled as a part-time graduate student in biology at Purdue where her daughter is a senior in Liberal Arts.

  • Mitchell Springer currently serves as the Network Centric Systems Manager of Engineering Resources and Career Development for Raytheon headquartered in McKinney, Texas.

  • Curt Worsey has spent 25 years in the technology and management consulting world and recently retired as a Partner from Accenture, the worlds leading global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Curt is currently assisting organizations with business strategy, operations, and leadership development.

  • Kevin Kahn is an Intel Senior Fellow, the corporation’s highest technical position, and currently the Director of the Communications Technology Lab, an advanced development and research lab in Intel’s Corporate Technology Group

Though the members of the panel were diverse, they all had two common attributes: They were all successful, and they had all graduated with degrees from Purdue Computer Science. This group of CS alumni contributed perspective and tips for current computer science students.  Their message was a simple one: take advantage of opportunities, adjust to change, and follow your passion.

Lawson building

The Richard and Patricia Lawson building consolidates the computer science department from five buildings to two. The building provides meeting rooms and office space for 45 faculty, 55 teaching assistants and 70 research assistants and houses four classrooms, five instructional labs and four research labs.  The building offers state-of-the-art equipment in addition to its interaction areas. It is wired with special 10-gigabit high-speed cable, 100 times faster than the standard Ethernet available throughout most of campus. The building also includes a100-seat University Meeting Room, a lecture hall designated for special events, and the adjacent commons area that offers a registration area, poster session area and space for a tiled video wall.

As Hambrusch stated in her opening speech, the completion of the Lawson Building is both “the culmination and the inauguration of a dream.” Many people made a variety of investments in the construction of the building. The dedication was an event that made all the plans and hard work, over the years of construction, finally come alive. Now the Lawson Computer Science building will serve many generations of Boilermakers to come.

The Purdue Computer Science department would once again like to thank all donors (PDF). The major donors and their donated areas are listed below:

  • Allen and Debbie Alley  - The Allen H. and Deborah J. Alley Assistant Department Head’s Office.
  • Dennis L. Carter – The Dennis L. Carter Facilities Reception Area
  • Jack and Ruth Chappell – The Chappell Faculty Lounge
  • Eric Dittert – The Alfred E. and Audrey R. Dittert Conference Room
  • Mark R. Easley Sr. – The Network Room.
  • P. Michael Farmwald - The Commons Area.
  • Marilyn Forsythe – The Marilyn Forsythe Academic Advisor Office
  • Marilyn Forsythe and Nan Fullerton - The Northern Lights Kinetic Light Display.
  • Robert N. Goldman – Assistant to the head’s office.
  • Alan R. and Cynthia Hevner – The Alan R. and Cynthia Hevner Conference room
  • Kevin and Suzanne Kahn – The Kevin C. and Suzanne L. Kahn Department Leadership Suite
  • William and Libbie Nylin – Appliances Throughout the Building
  • Michael and Jerralie Petersen – The Michael and Jerralie Petersen Academic Advisor Office
  • Charlie Richter and Dion Messer – The Dean and Marge Richter Teaching Assistant Conference Suite.
  • State Farm Companies Foundation – Interactive Boards for Classrooms
  • Steve and Brenda Susemichel – Network Room, first floor
  • Don and Barb Swanson – The Donald M. and Barbara L. Swanson Department Head’s Office
  • Tellabs Foundation – Visualization Laboratory
  • Stephen and Janet Tolopka – The Stephen J. and Janet L. Tolopka Terrace
  • Curtis and Caroline Worsey – The Curtis and Caroline Worsey Classroom

People celebrating Dean with Lawson

Donors Row of guests

Kurz with guest

University News Story Purdue dedicates new Lawson Computer Science Building

Last Updated: Apr 6, 2017 5:18 PM

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