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Senior’s legacy is an award-winning example of leadership

"I don’t know that I’ve ever called myself a leader. I just try to inspire people and give them the tools they need to succeed,” said Dane Chapman, a senior who majored in agribusiness.

While Chapman is hesitant to place the title of leader on himself, others who have worked with him call Chapman an ideal example, as did the 2020 France A. Córdova Leadership in Action Award’s selection committee, comprised of staff involved in leadership and student development programming.

Chapman with 2017 World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (Photo by Guy-Roland Tayoro)

The annual college-wide honor recognizes one male and one female student who exhibited exceptional leadership during their Purdue career. Recipients must hold significant leadership roles and work in partnership with faculty and staff to move the university forward.

“We are proud of Dane Chapman and his selection for the 2020 France A. Córdova Leadership in Action Award,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture.  “Dane’s leadership extends from the College of Agriculture to beyond our borders, making him an ideal ambassador. His example will leave a legacy after graduation, serving as a foundation for tomorrow’s leaders.”

Chapman said winning the award came as a complete surprise. “After I heard the announcement, an onslaught of text messages, e-mails and congratulatory posts came flooding in. The way the Purdue community came together to thank me for simply being a student and doing what I enjoy was humbling.”

Joining Purdue Student Government as a freshman motivated Chapman’s involvement on campus. “It really taught me a lot about the diversity across our university. Ever since then, I’ve been sure to stay involved in at least one organization outside of agriculture. The College of Agriculture is an amazing circle, a tight family, but I think it's important to diversify your experiences on campus.”

Chapman served as co-chair of Hammer Down Hunger as part of Purdue’s 2019 Ag Week. Over 1,000 volunteers packed 150,000 meals, doubling the campaign’s traditional output in honor of Purdue’s 150th anniversary.

Chapman speaking at Ross-Ade stadium, kicking off Hammer Down Hunger. Chapman speaking at Ross-Ade stadium, kicking off Hammer Down Hunger.

Chapman attributes his success to those who invested their time in him. “One person in particular is my advisor, LeeAnn Williams,” said Chapman. “She has been absolutely incredible from Day One.”

“Dane has combined his intellectual curiosity, teamwork skills and leadership abilities to positively impact the Purdue campus,” said Williams. “It’s been a joy to see his personal growth from freshmen to senior year.  Dane has tried to experience all that Purdue has to offer – a semester abroad, academic competitions, student organizations, teaching assistant roles and leadership conferences. With all that being said, I think Dane’s big smile, genuine personality, humility and warm character are his strongest attributes; we are sure going to miss him in the halls of Krannert!”

Chapman meeting Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue

Chapman served as president of the Purdue Foundation Student Board (PFSB). “Their mission really resonated with me, working on the philanthropic initiatives across our university.”

Cole Pearson, a sophomore in agricultural economics, served with Chapman in Ag Ambassadors and PFSB. “You can’t find a leader much better than Dane,” said Pearson. “He’s very intentional about what he does, how he leads and the way he interacts with you. Dane really takes the time to listen to our ideas and what we have to say.”

Social distancing restrictions provided an unexpected final test of Chapman’s leadership skills. “I would say the Boilermaker spirit of getting things done and pushing through adversity is shining brightly through all of this,” said Chapman. The world has changed, but the amazing thing is that we’re all so resilient. I don’t think we missed a beat transforming things like Ag Week into a virtual experience.”

“As I graduate, I just want to leave a resounding message of thanks. It’s going to be tough to go,” shared Chapman, who will soon head to Chicago to work at Deloitte as a business technology analyst. “Start dates are being pushed back because of the pandemic, but I’m choosing to look at this as an opportunity to reflect. It’s a chance to slow down, spend time with my family and make sure I’m geared up to start my career.”

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