11 Ukrainian profs heading to Purdue, 15 more possible in university’s safe harbor effort
Plus, county health department raises alarm about sudden infant deaths. And a new Love’s truck stop means new light, new look near a Lafayette exit off I-65
Today’s edition of the Based in Lafayette reporting project is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette and Vote411.org. For more about Vote411.org and its collection of local candidate profiles and interviews ahead of the May 3 primary, scroll through today’s edition.
11 UKRAINIAN PROFS HEADING TO PURDUE, MORE LIKELY, TOO
Since Purdue announced its Ukrainian Scholars Initiative – a plan to give up to 20 faculty and Ph.D. students from universities in Ukraine safe harbor and a place to continue their teaching and research as the Russian invasion wears on – more than 50 have applied to come to the West Lafayette campus, Purdue President Mitch Daniels said Monday.
Of those, 11 already have been matched with Purdue faculty and could be on campus in late spring or early summer, university officials reported. Another 15 from Ukraine had requests under review since the program was announced a little over three weeks ago.
“To be honest, when we first suggested it, we didn't know if there would be interest,” Daniels told faculty on the University Senate Monday afternoon. “We didn't know if there would be takers. We didn't know if it would prove practical. On all fronts right now, I think there is reason to believe that Purdue can perform a valuable humanitarian service. We’re certainly intent on doing that.”
Mike Brzezinski, dean of international programs at Purdue, said the university could bring more than 20 scholars, along with their families, if their specialties line up with Purdue faculty expertise.
So far, Brzezinski said, those coming from Ukrainian universities are working in chemistry, engineering, cybersecurity, physics and health and human sciences. He said those who aren’t being considered had incomplete applications or weren’t good matches for Purdue. In one case, the scholar was doing dental research, which isn’t part of Purdue’s specialties.
“To the best of my knowledge no other university is pursuing an initiative at this scale,” Brzezinski said.
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Daniels thanked Purdue faculty for reaching out to colleagues in Ukraine to make initial connections. The concept calls for Ukrainian faculty and doctoral students to stay in West Lafayette for a year and then return home, if it’s safe to do so.
“We all hope earnestly that the situation in Ukraine will resolve itself peacefully,” Daniels said. “But right now that seems highly doubtful. So, if we can provide a place of refuge and a place where these folks can continue their scholarship, I think I'm on firm ground in saying that there's a consensus on the campus that's a good thing to do.”
Purdue plans to cover visa expenses, round-trip travel costs and offer health insurance through the university’s benefits program. Purdue also will offer a monthly stipend for scholars and financial assistance for spouses and children younger than 21.
At the start of the 2021-22 academic year, Purdue’s Data Digest listed five students from Ukraine. The university also has an active Ukrainian Student Association, with a roll of 15 to 20 students, many second- and third-generation Americans whose parents or grandparents came to the United States from Ukraine. The student association has organized a march on campus, a film series and supply drives since the Russian invasion.
LOVE’S SETS EYES – AND ROAD IMPROVEMENTS – IN LAFAYETTE NEAR I-65
Love’s Travel Stops, an Oklahoma-based company with more than 500 truck stops in 41 states, is prepping ground at Schuyler Avenue and County Road 200 North, just south of Interstate 65, for a new location.
To get it done, Love’s will spend nearly $1 million for a traffic signal, lane improvements on Schuyler leading to and from I-65 and a widened County Road 200 North, according to a performance bond approved Monday by the Tippecanoe County commissioners.
The Love’s is expected to open near the southeast corner of Schuyler and 200 North at the beginning of 2023, provided the weather cooperates, Caitlin Campbell, communications lead for The Love’s Family of Companies, said. In January, the company announced it planned to open more than 40 locations with 3,000 truck parking spaces in 2022.
Campbell said the Lafayette location also will include a Hardee’s restaurant and Love’s Truck Care.
“Our team members will be ready to help get customers back on the road quickly and safely when the location opens,” Campbell said.
The bond signed by the company and by the commissioners makes Love’s responsible for $995,928 in improvements to the roads, including the traffic light.
Stewart Kline, executive director of the Tippecanoe County Highway Department, said that work eventually might have needed to be done by the county. But he said it was put on Love’s, which was looking to get truck traffic from I-65 to what now is nothing more than a standard sized county road.
Kline said the agreement will require Love’s to use county-approved contractors. The county will be responsible for the traffic light, Schuyler and 200 North once they’re finished, he said. Kline said the work is expected to be done in 2022.
The development is among the first between the Wildcat Creek and I-65, after Lafayette extended water and sewer lines past the creek in a $4.3 million project started in 2019. Eventually, those lines will be built farther north along the Hoosier Heartland Highway, also known as Indiana 25.
SIDS CASES UP IN 2021, CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED FOR SAFE SLEEP FOR BABIES
In 2017, when three children younger than 1 died suddenly and in unexplained ways in Tippecanoe County, the number was enough to prompt the health department to push unsafe sleep prevention strategies, Aubrey Kitchel, West Central Indiana Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Project coordinator, told county commissioners Monday.
After one sudden unexplained infant death in each of the next three years, Tippecanoe County reported six cases in 2021, according to data released Monday.
Those numbers were considered preliminary and causes aren’t known for all the cases, Kitchel said.
“But typically, they are most often associated with unsafe sleep practices,” she said. “That’s double the rate that was so alarming. … We hope to have more answers and develop specific strategies after we’ve thoroughly reviewed each case. But we don’t want to delay the opportunity to alert the community and start educating everyone about safe sleeping practices.”
On Monday, the health department – backed in a joint effort with Franciscan Health and IU Health Arnett in Lafayette – rolled out a series of 15- and 30-second videos meant to be reminders about safely putting a baby down to sleep.
Kitchel was joined by Marcia Cherry, director of women's and children's services at Franciscan Health Lafayette East, and Salina McNulty, clinical operations manager for labor and delivery at IU Health Arnett, in what the health department was calling a unified front and messaging campaign.
The videos, produced by the Charlie’s Kids Foundation, will be shared via social media, linked to QR codes for quick scanning in public space and promoted by the hospitals, Kitchel said. They encourage parents and caregivers to put babies to sleep on their backs, alone in a crib or pack-and-play; to avoid the temptation to let a fussy baby sleep with the parent; and setting alarms during late-night breast feeding to prevent falling asleep with the baby.
Here’s a link to the series of nine videos:
In a related education effort, the county will hold a community baby shower from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Tippecanoe County Health Department, 1950 S. 18th St. in Lafayette (the former YMCA). The event will be set up in a similar fashion to a vendor fair, along with sessions to help parents with newborns or getting ready for a baby with safe sleep strategies.
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