Keon uses his PUC installation to focus on university’s future

During his installation Tuesday (3/20) as Purdue University Calumet chancellor, Thomas L. Keon told a gathering of some 400 family, friends, Purdue colleagues, students, faculty and invited guests that the day “is not about me; it’s about the future of Purdue Calumet.”

Though Keon has been on the job since July 1, his installation ceremoniously ushered in a new era at the nearly 10,000-student, Hammond-based regional university—an era during which he envisions Purdue Calumet moving northwest Indiana forward.

The seventh leader in Purdue Calumet’s 65-year history spoke during his Installation Address of a Purdue Calumet that “creates new industries in northwest Indiana, rather than just serving existing ones.

“We should not be content to merely serve, but to dream boldly and push forward,” said Keon, who used the occasion to articulate his four strategic initiatives for Purdue Calumet: 1) Academic Excellence, 2) Learning through Engagement and Discovery; 3) Inclusivity; and 4) Community and Building Partnerships.

Held in the Purdue Calumet gymnasium on an unseasonably warm late March afternoon, the Installation featured a platform party of participants from Purdue past, present and future.


Chancellor Thomas Keon, from left, transitions from his robe of Michigan State University to the black and gold of Purdue with assistance from former Purdue Calumet Chancellors Carl Elliott, James Yackel and Howard Cohen.

Among those joining University President France Cordova, who introduced Keon, were former Purdue Calumet Chancellors Howard Cohen (2001-11), James Yackel (1990-2001) and Carl Elliott (1959-74). That trio participated in the Investiture ceremony, assisting Keon as he transitioned from the green cap and gown of his doctoral alma mater, Michigan State University, to the black and gold regalia of Purdue.


“Chancellor Keon is a strong leader who has brought a wealth of experience and vision to this role, including an outstanding business and fundraising acumen,” University President Cordova said. “I am enthusiastic and excited to see Purdue Calumet continue to flourish and grow under his leadership.”

Also offering remarks were Purdue Calumet student leaders Jessie Martin and Brandon Rukes and alumnus and local business/economic development leader Don Babcock. Delivering special remarks were longtime Keon friend and colleague Robin Roberts of the University of Central Florida.

Keon arrived at Purdue Calumet after having served for 14 years as dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Florida. Previously, he was dean of the College of Business and Administration at Southern Illinois University.

His 35+-year career in higher education has included various other administrative and faculty positions at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Missouri. He also has taught at the University of Notre Dame, Michigan State University and Southern Vermont College.

He holds a baccalaureate degree in accounting (Bentley University), master’s in education (Suffolk University), MBA (Babson College) and a doctorate in management (Michigan State University).