August 2017

Kris Stith, Purdue Village Preschool program coordinator

Housing News

The preschoolers of University Residences

Purdue University is a place where young people come from all over the world to learn and collaborate with others as they prepare for professional careers. There’s a microcosm of Purdue on the southwest corner of campus, where even younger people from all over the world come to learn how to learn and share with others as they prepare for what’s next – kindergarten. The Purdue Village Preschool has been serving Purdue families for 60 years.

Purdue Village was built after World War II to house families of returning military members, and the school opened independent of the University as a parent cooperative called Associated Parents Co-op. Eventually it was renamed Nimitz Drive Cooperative Nursery School, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that it became officially affiliated with University Residences and Purdue, which provided financial stability for the school and took over operations entirely in 2001.

During the school year, about 60 kids attend the preschool in four half-day classes, with an extended day care after the afternoon classes and additional classes in the summer. Enrollment is open to families who live in Purdue Village first, then children of Purdue employees and students and space-permitting, the Purdue community.

The uniqueness of attending preschool on a college campus lends to convenient field trips to the CoRec, the Purdue Fire Station or the Union bowling alley, as well as integrated lesson plans that involve the kids studying a planet and then racing around their orbits in the scaled model of the solar system in nearby Discovery Park.

Kris Stith, now the preschool program coordinator, has worked at the school for more than half of its existence. She wasn’t officially a Purdue employee until 2001, but she’s been teaching children of Purdue students, families, employees and the community for 34 years now, during which time she estimates she’s taught close to 1,000 children, including the children of parents she once taught as preschoolers.

“It has been such an interesting job. The kids are great, and I love working with kids, but you throw in the fact that we get to meet and get to know families from all around the world – it’s never the same twice,” Stith said. “Adding that component, the international nature of the community, has made this so interesting, fun and educational. I’ve learned a lot.” 

Stith said the preschoolers have changed quite a bit from one generation to the next, with today’s children very technologically savvy but earlier classes more creative at playing on their own. The demographics have also changed drastically, with about 85 percent American kids when Stith started to closer to 75 percent international students today, a reflection of the growing international profile of Purdue Village over the years. 

That’s driven some of the best programming at the Purdue Village preschool, anchored by a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner every fall and two “international weeks” each April. Both events bring in the parents of the students to talk about their home countries and learn more about each other, a cultural swap of sorts led by 3- and 4-year-olds from up to 20 different countries.

“The kids absolutely love it. It’s the most fun thing that we do all year, and the kids learn so much. By the end of two weeks, every child learns where every other child is from and they can probably find it on the globe for you,” Stith said. “We do those two social events, and that’s kind of our mission too – not just the kids, but to get the families connected.”

Writer: Matt Watson

Emma Jackson, interior design intern for UR Capital Projects

Student Spotlight

UR Capital Projects intern wins award

You could say Emma Jackson took the long way to Purdue. She grew up less than an hour from campus on a farm in Delphi, but her adventurous spirit took her across the world to Croatia for a year as an exchange student and to the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville for three more years before she came to West Lafayette.

Her journey to interior design, which she’s majoring in and putting to use as an intern for the Capital Projects department within University Residences, wasn’t quite A to B either. Jackson was studying studio art at USI, missing her rural life back home when she decided to move off campus, way off campus, into an old travel trailer she bought. In the course of living in a 100-square-foot camper for two and a half years of college, she realized how much fun she was having renovating and redesigning the trailer’s interior, replacing a dinette and built-in bed with a real bed and space for her Doberman-mix dog.

“It got to the point that I was enjoying that more than my actual classwork,” Jackson said. “When I looked around at all the interior design programs, I felt like Purdue was the best because they focus on the space-planning – a lot of people have a stereotype of interior design as just decorating, but here you learn about more interior architecture.”

After three years at Purdue, Jackson is now an award-winning interior design student, having been voted this past semester as the Most Valuable Student for the junior class. She was selected by her peers in a vote sponsored by Purdue’s combined student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Jackson attributes the recognition to always having a good attitude.

“You wouldn’t think so, but the interior design degree can be really stressful. There’s a lot of computer technology that we focus on, so like 3D renderings, space planning, AutoCAD, and often we’ll be there until 4 a.m. working on projects,” she said. “It’s nice to be recognized as a person who helps create a positive environment.”

Jackson began an internship with UR Capital Projects in January and continued this past summer on a wide variety of projects. She’s inventoried furniture in dining courts to update plans for the health and safety boards, suggested new paint schemes for Hillenbrand Hall, and is helping fill the bookshelves that line the Great Hall of the Honors College and Residences, a project that has included spray-painting books purchased at Goodwill for the purpose of design mock-ups. Her latest work is an original housing proposal.

“It’s a little different from a lot of internships, because it’s this continuous, never-ending project of the whole campus. Usually as a designer you design something and then move on to the next project, so I’m learning a lot about the project management side of things,” Jackson said. “We don’t really focus on that in the degree, so that’s been really beneficial being here.”

Jackson comes from a single-parent home, and her mom works a night shift at Purdue so they take turns commuting to campus from their family farm in Delphi. With a heart for sustainability, Jackson’s biggest concern is gas mileage, so she bought an old stick-shift Toyota that she and her mom alternate driving until it won’t drive anymore. Ultimately, Jackson would like to work in sustainable interior design, whether it’s pop-up shelters for emergency relief, energy-efficient tiny homes or sustainable practices in commercial buildings.

“I didn't think design was what I would do when I was younger, but when I look back I think, 'Oh, that makes sense.' It's that artistic side of me mixed with the practical side. To me, a big part of it is helping people,” she said.

For more on Emma as she continues her studies and work for UR, visit her portfolio website at

Writer: Matt Watson

Kelley Bailey, Faculty Fellow for Earhart Hall

Alumni Profile

Earhart Hall's resident, bride and Faculty Fellow

Kelley Bailey has many ties to Earhart Hall. The lecturer from the College of Health and Human Sciences is currently a Faculty Fellow for Earhart, but she also lived in the hall as a counselor and staff resident while working on her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She only moved out of Earhart after four years because she got married, and she even had her wedding reception in the Earhart front lobby, 23 years ago last month.

As Bailey was interviewed for this story sitting in that same Earhart lobby, she points out where her receiving line once was and what lounge hosted dancing and what hosted dinner, which was catered by Earhart Dining Court. Since the hall was empty for the summer, wedding guests were permitted to book a room for a small fee, and Bailey points to a room “right over there,” where she stayed the night before. She identifies in her wedding photo album a painting of Amelia Earhart that still hangs on the wall today.

So it’s no surprise that when presented with an opportunity to work in Earhart Hall two decades after moving out (with all her stuff and a new husband), Bailey jumped at the chance to make new memories in a hall that was already home to so many.

In her first year as a Faculty Fellow, Bailey won an outstanding faculty member award, largely because she can relate to the girls she mentors down to the very hall they live in. As a former out-of-state student (from way out-of-state – Alaska), Bailey knows how important the community created by the residence halls is. She also knows the rigors of a Purdue education, from her three degrees and teaching herself.

“I try to let the girls know that I've been where they are, literally,” Bailey said. “I was a straight-A student in high school, but I got here and it's just different. I was pulling a D in chemistry my first semester, but I have a Ph.D. now and they asked me to work here. There are a lot of different paths to being successful.”

While she’s taken her floor to make pottery, brought kazoos as stress relievers for finals week, and sponsored a student’s new campus club, Bailey says a faculty member just regularly showing up for dinner has a huge influence on students.

“The most important thing we did was show up once a week to eat and connect with the girls. it doesn't have to be a big time commitment to make a big impact,” Bailey said. “These students are ready to do great things, and sometimes they just need someone to point them in the right direction.”

Bailey said she thinks of her whole family as Faculty Fellows, as her husband (a former counselor himself in Fowler Courts) and two teenage sons come to dinner each week and she’s hosted students in their home. While Bailey’s mentoring the girls of Earhart Hall, she likes to think of the girls as role models for her children, since everyone participating in the program is active on campus while pursuing a Purdue degree. It’s only fitting that all the Baileys regularly come together in Earhart Hall, since it’s where the family officially began with a wedding years ago.

Writer: Matt Watson

Cary Quadrangle

UR Alumni Announcements

  • When you come to pick up your Alumni Meal Cards this fall, please remember to conatct us ahead of time if you cannot your card during our regularly scheduled hours. Please contact us at or 765-496-0278.
  • Stop by the UR Alumni and Guest Center for your Homecoming gift between 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on September 23. Big 10 Network will be broadcasting live on 9/23 from 10 a.m. to noon on the Cary front lawn in front of the UR Alumni and Guest Center.

Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic | Inquiries Contact:

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