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Heritage Grant Supports Ukrainian Scholars at Purdue University

Just over a year ago, war erupted in Ukraine. Following a long buildup of military equipment and forces, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. In the days and months that followed, Russia’s bombings targeted essential infrastructure and systems, including hospitals, schools and neighborhoods, leaving destruction and devastation at every level of Ukrainian life. In news reports and through footage posted to social media, many were witness to the millions of Ukrainians being killed, displaced or forced to flee their country.

As a response to the invasion, Purdue University launched the Ukrainian Scholars Initiative, a program to host individuals whose lives were upended by the war. The goal of the initiative is to offer support to scholars who held faculty positions or were conducting research at Ukrainian universities the opportunity to safely continue their academic pursuits at Purdue.

“Our aim is to make at least one small contribution to help the Ukrainian people in this moment of peril,” Purdue’s then-President Mitch Daniels said of the program’s launch in March 2022. “Our hope is that we can offer refuge to these scholars and a chance to continue pursuing their work, and then see them return to a safe and free Ukraine. But while they are with us, I don’t doubt that they will personify and perhaps share with our students the precious value of freedom and the constant need to defend it from its enemies.”

Having experienced the terror and sadness of the war unfold, leadership within The Heritage Group (THG) gathered with representatives from Purdue to help fund the initiative. “For 90 years, the Heritage Group has been committed to building a safer, more enriching and sustainable world by harnessing the power of family,” said Sara Morris, Director of Strategic Initiatives. “We are fortunate to be able to support this initiative to enrich the lives of the individual Ukrainian scholars, their families, all who come into contact with them at Purdue, and for our own team members.”

Purdue received hundreds of inquiries to the program, ultimately welcoming nine scholars. Michael Brzezinski, Dean of International Programs at Purdue, notes that the Ukrainian Scholars Initiative is one of the first, largest and most ambitious university-led programs in the United States. According to the university, the visiting scholars participate in several academic pursuits that span many schools of study – from chemistry, library sciences, psychology, linguistics, sociology and neuroscience to political science, management, history, and earth and planetary sciences.

Through the grant, THG has pledged a two-year commitment to the participating Ukrainian scholars that will run through May 2024. “After the arrival of all of our nine scholars, The Heritage Group was eager to learn more about each individual and to know how they could help,” Brzezinski said. “We’re so very pleased and grateful that they are contributing the majority of funding needed to sponsor each scholar. Individuals from Heritage are eager to meet our Ukrainian faculty and students, a sign that they are truly interested in their well-being.”

As of late February 2023, the total number of Ukrainian casualties has surpassed 8,100 according to the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. It is estimated that over 8 million citizens have been displaced within Ukraine and another 8 million have fled the country. While the war continues, so does The Heritage Group’s commitment to Purdue’s visiting scholars. “The ultimate hope is for the war in Ukraine to end and for these scholars to be able to return home, but we are so pleased to support these amazing scholars in the meantime,” said Megan Savage, VP of External Affairs. “Beyond the financial support to cover their basic needs, it is our hope that we will have an opportunity across THG for our teams to engage with the scholars to learn about their experiences, both personally and professionally. There is a long connection between THG and Purdue, and our support is a natural extension of that. We also stand ready should any of the scholars need more wrap-around support, it is our hope we can tap the THG family to help provide that.”

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last five years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

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Homecoming: Sibel Selcuk Appointed EVP of Heritage Research Group

On January 16, 2023, Sibel Selcuk assumed the role of Executive Vice President of Heritage Research Group (HRG), returning to lead a segment of the same organization where she began her career 16 years ago. A home-grown expert, we are delighted to bring Sibel’s deep technical expertise, knowledge of the industry, and talent for people-first leadership back to Heritage Research Group in this new role. “Sibel exemplifies all of the reasons we bet on people and is a natural choice to lead this dynamic group,” said Amy Schumacher, CEO of The Heritage Group.

After earning her chemistry PhD at Louisiana State University, Sibel began her career at HRG as a research chemist and most recently served as Vice President, Global Research and Development and Strategy at Monument Chemical, an operating company of THG. Sibel found a moment to reflect on her time with Monument and how it feels to move into the next chapter of her career. What follows is a brief, modified Q&A she gave as she transitioned from her role with Monument Chemical.


How does it feel to leave Monument and begin your new job leading HRG?
I’m very excited, but it’s also bittersweet. When I joined Monument, I did not envision ever leaving or that I would someday return to HRG. I came to Monument tasked with building a new global R&D organization to boost our collaborative, cross-functional opportunities and enhance our abilities to fuel Monument’s growth. Two years ago, I was asked to be responsible for defining our strategy and identifying our growth levers, and that work was also very exciting to me. I loved my job and the people I got to work with. Monument and HRG will always feel like family to me, and I have this new opportunity because of how much you taught me, helped me grow as a leader, and prepared me for this next step. I look forward to always being part of the Monument and HRG family — you’re stuck with me!

What excites you most about what lies ahead for you with HRG?
It’s very exciting and an honor to return to lead the group I “grew up in.” It’s also humbling, because HRG is such an important part of The Heritage Group’s history going all the way back to Amy’s grandfather, Fred Fehsenfeld Sr., who interviewed me for my first job and became one of my mentors. He understood, as Fred Fehsenfeld Jr. and Amy do, how important R&D and innovation are to The Heritage Group’s future. I’m also very much looking forward to partnering with fellow members of the Heritage Leadership Council to seek future opportunities for HRG and the operating companies to collaborate.

Is your career heading down a path you envisioned, or has it surprised you?
When I was finishing my PhD almost 20 years ago, I pictured myself working as a chemistry professor in Turkey, not as an industry executive in Indiana. In fact, I had two teaching jobs waiting for me in Turkey when I graduated. But I listened to a professor who was advising me when he suggested I look into industry, and here I am. Turns out, it was very good advice.

Speaking of advice, what career advice do you most often share?
My number-one piece of career advice is to not fear change. Change is challenging and can be difficult to manage, but it keeps us moving forward and open to new opportunities. I’ve made some big changes in my life, beginning with leaving Turkey and my family to come to the United States to continue my education. Leaving HRG to join Monument was another big change, and I remember feeling nervous when I started. But I am very grateful I didn’t let uncertainties stop me then or keep me from taking this next step in my path.


As an organization, The Heritage Group is delighted to welcome Sibel back to our HRG team. HRG has played a unique role in the longevity and success of The Heritage Group, helping us innovate and tackle tough problems. As a versatile and experienced leader, Sibel embodies our Heritage values with a forward-thinking approach to innovation and research. In the months ahead, she’ll be working with colleagues new and old to talk, connect, share ideas and work together to build the future of Heritage Research Group.

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A Quick Reflection On United For Service

Coinciding with The Heritage Group’s 92nd anniversary as a company, our inaugural United for Service event was held on Thursday, November 17, 2022. Volunteers from around the Heritage Group of companies and centered in dozens of locations across the country came together, united in generous spirit, to serve the communities in which we live and work. With a focus on addressing food scarcity and insecurity, and in partnership with the United Way, volunteers hosted food drives, assembled food kits, sorted and packaged food donations, and served residents of community shelters. We are so grateful for this opportunity and are proud to celebrate the 1,211 volunteer hours. 

What is United for Service?

United for Service is your opportunity to volunteer side-by-side with your Heritage family to meet a need in your community — putting food on families’ tables. This experience is all about building a sense of community among our Heritage family while also giving back in a meaningful way to the communities where we live and work.

United for Service originated with the Fehsenfeld family as a way for the whole group to get together and bond while giving back to the community.

Why focus on food insecurity?

The need for food is key to our existence. And the enjoyment of food is a part of our culture. Families bond over dinner, co-workers chat over lunch. But for some, putting food on the table is a struggle.

According to the USDA, more than 38 million people, including 12 million children, in the United States are food insecure. In fact, every community in the United States is home to families who face hunger. But rural communities — where many struggle with limited job opportunities and lack of transportation options to reach grocery stores or food pantries — are especially hard hit by hunger.