Prof arrives with family ties to Uncle John Purdue
Laura Murray-Kolb’s family ties to John Purdue were a passing reference in her great-grandmother’s autobiography. How strong she’d feel the connection didn't hit until she arrived as a department head
Laura Murray-Kolb still finds herself getting her bearings at Purdue, coming to the West Lafayette campus this summer from Penn State as the new head of the university’s Department of Nutrition Science.
One way: She’s quietly asked about tailgate etiquette when someone offers a friendly, “Boiler up!” At her alma mater, the call and response is set: “We are” is always answered by “Penn State.” Here? “Am I supposed to say, ‘Hammer down?’ Or just another ‘Boiler up?’” Murray-Kolb said, laughing a bit. “I’ve held back, because I’m never sure.”
Another one: Nearly every day, Murray-Kolb passes the bronze statue of John Purdue, seated in a spot on Memorial Mall, close to her department’s Stone Hall offices. Often, as student tour guides pause their backward walks through campus to tell prospective high schoolers and their parents about the university founder and how he sat near that spot 150 years ago, watching progress on a campus that bears his name, Murray-Kolb has found herself trying to play it cool, too.
“If I’m walking by, I want to go, ‘He was my uncle!’” Murray-Kolb said. “So far, I’ve refrained, because they might think that’s really odd.”
It’s true, though.
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