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Creating and Supporting a Home in Purdue Cooperatives

A photo of Bob and Joyce with Purdue Students

Generations of Boilermakers have left homes from around the world to attend Purdue, only to discover a new home on campus.

For Bob (’63 CE) and Joyce Miles (’65 CFS), home is Purdue’s cooperative community. During their time on campus, Bob was a member of Fairway Cooperative while Joyce is a proud alumna of Twin Pines. Today, the Miles are helping new generations of Boilermakers find their home at Purdue by sharing their time and wisdom with members of the cooperative community.

“This is our Purdue home,” Joyce says. “People come back to Purdue for lots of different reasons and call different places home. Twin Pines is in the same house and the same spot on Waldron Street [322 Waldron] as when I lived there. We’ve never moved.”

The opportunity to join Twin Pines was a significant factor in Joyce’s decision to attend Purdue. She learned of Twin Pines through her 4-H agent in her hometown, North Manchester, Indiana, who convinced Joyce and her parents of the financial, academic and social benefits of joining a cooperative. She moved directly into Twin Pines as a first-year student and lived in the house until graduating with a degree in home economics education, now called family and consumer science.

Bob, a first-generation student, found his home in Fairway Cooperative (now part of Beta Upsilon Chi), a house focused on Christian values. Like Joyce, Bob hailed from a small Indiana town, Hartford City, and found a community of individuals who shared his values in the cooperative. He went on to hold leadership positions in the house as well as the Student Cooperative Association.miles headshot

“There’s something about a cold winter day when you leave class and walk into the co-op to a warm house and a hot, cooked meal and 20 or 30 other people are there that you can share your day with,” Bob says. “It’s a pretty amazing way of living, really.”

Bob and Joyce first met at a Halloween roller skating social organized by the members of Twin Pines and Fairway. Bob recalls picking up Joyce in his 1955 Dodge, his first car, that he purchased as a senior at Purdue. The two spent the evening skating and talking, and later had their first official date to study shortly after Thanksgiving break. Those moments jumpstarted a relationship that is now going strong 61 years later.

In addition to social events that create opportunities for students to develop treasured relationships like Bob and Joyce, the structure of cooperative housing also teaches members valuable life lessons. Members of each cooperative house are collectively responsible for their own cooking, cleaning and maintaining the house. While members must pay a corporate due or fees, which serve a similar purpose as rent, all houses are self-governing, with an executive board and other positions to manage various aspects of life in the house. As the title cooperative housing implies, living in a house requires cooperation among house members.

“There’s a lot of life skills being built,” Joyce says. “We probably didn’t figure that out when we were in college and the cooperative houses ourselves. We were so in the middle of it and we were learning how to work in groups, practice teamwork, communicate and negotiate, and all of those skills employers are asking for. We were doing that 24 hours a day.”

Upon graduating, the Miles moved to Florida and built successful careers. After earning a master’s degree from Florida State University, Joyce enjoyed a 40-year career in Jacksonville schools, first as a teacher and later as an administrator in career and technical education. Bob enjoyed a 27-year career at Ceco, a concrete engineering company, rising to regional manager of the Florida division. After leaving Ceco, he started his own company, Bob L. Miles and Associates, a manufacturers’ representative selling to the construction industry, and sold the business prior to retiring.joyce-beery-miles.jpg

The couple reconnected with their Purdue roots when Joyce received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993. Since then, the Miles have supported their alma mater through numerous philanthropic endeavors and advisory roles. They were inspired to relocate to Lafayette in 2017, where they continue to reside.

Today, Bob and Joyce’s selfless dedication and extraordinary volunteering efforts continue to support the Purdue Cooperative Council (PCC) and students living in Purdue’s cooperative community. They serve as unofficial advisors to PCC, attend council meetings and often attend meetings and have dinner at individual houses. At dinners, Bob and Joyce say they tend to split up to meet more students and have a wider variety of conversations. Oftentimes, they will invite leaders from campus and the Greater Lafayette community to visit cooperatives and interact with students. These interactions help students grow their networks and make important connections.

Joyce’s passion lies with the students of Twin Pines. She started the Hope Becker Twin Pines Scholarship Endowment, named for one of the founding and charter members of Twin Pines, to financially support students in the cooperative. As an alumna, she serves as a mentor to the Twin Pines executive board, new member class and other positions. One of her focuses is expanding alumni engagement for Twin Pines and all cooperative housing alumni.

Joyce directs her passion and energy to mentoring students one-on-one as well. She currently serves as a mentor to three students she meets with regularly. She and the students she mentors typically cover topics such as budgeting, resumes, LinkedIn and career prep, and she will often write letters of recommendation for students.

“I would do it for all 29 girls at Twin Pines if I could,” she says. “It’s an intensive job and I don’t take it lightly. We usually meet every two weeks, either in person or on a Zoom call. We have specific things on our agenda and we’ll update each other. If I have promised someone I would do something, I will tell them what I have done. I’m very aware of what I expect and they get a lot out of it by keeping up with expectations. It’s very intense.”

One of Bob’s passions is serving as an advocate for resources for cooperatives. He co-chaired a task force to assess the potential need for additional cooperatives. The task force additionally developed best practices cooperative houses can follow and a way for houses to assess the needs of their members.

“We met for nine months and visited every house,” Bob says. “We had every house fill out paperwork and developed a long study. As a result of that study, we developed best practices for the house board, corporate board and alumni board.”

In addition to their passion for cooperatives, Bob and Joyce support numerous philanthropic endeavors at Purdue and Florida State. As a result of Joyce’s time as a Purduette, she and Bob support Purdue Musical Organizations, have a named practice room in Bailey Hall, mentor several Purduettes and have hosted members of PMO in their home. They established the Bob and Joyce Beery Miles Endowment Fund to help support the College of Consumer and Family Sciences (now the College of Health and Human Sciences) programs in education and scholarships at Purdue. The Bob L. and Joyce Beery Miles Outdoor Learning Space at Lyles-Porter Hall, which serves children of all ages, was also made possible by a gift from the couple. Overall, they support two scholarships each at Purdue and Florida State.

The Miles are also life members of the Purdue for Life Foundation and Purdue President’s Council and serve on the Student Life Advisory Council. They were recognized as the inaugural winners of the Student Life Distinguished Mentorship Award, which has since been renamed the Bob L. and Joyce Beery Miles Student Life Mentor Award in their honor. Bob and Joyce’s impact on the student experience is immeasurable and the couple have been able to develop treasured relationships as part of their ongoing impact.

Bob and Joyce’s home in Purdue cooperatives remains strong. Today, the university has 11 cooperatives, boasting a combined membership of approximately 400 students. Houses range in size from 20 to 70 members. Cooperative members are eligible for more than $15,000 in scholarships each year and can apply for funding for leadership programs. As a member of Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life (FSCL) at Purdue University, cooperatives focus on scholarship, service, philanthropic giving, leadership and brother/sisterhood as key components of the student experience.

Through their mentorship, Bob and Joyce hope to contribute to a vibrant, rewarding student experience that will be sustainable for years to come.

“We’re here because we care a lot,” Joyce says. “We want them to be able to come back in 50 years and see their house and see their Purdue forever home.”

Learn more about Purdue cooperatives here, or follow along on Facebook or Instagram for news, information on events and more. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to support cooperatives or other organizations in the FSCL community, contact