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All eyes on Daniels ahead of Purdue trustees' vote

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Questions are brewing about how Gov. Mitch Daniels would run Purdue University once he is selected as its new president this week.

IBJ and other media outlets, all citing anonymous sources, reported that Purdue's Board of Trustees will vote Thursday to name Daniels to succeed France Cordova as president of the state's second-largest university. Cordova will retire next month after five years at Purdue's helm.

Daniels will step down as governor in January after eight years in office. State law bars him from seeking a third term.

He is set to become the 12th president of Purdue, which has about 75,000 students on its West Lafayette and regional campuses.

Daniels declined to answer questions from reporters Wednesday morning about his future following an economic development announcement event in Indianapolis.

Daniels did said Wednesday that he believes changes are needed to how higher education is approached. He says more people who've attended college have loan debt than degrees and that situation can't be sustained.

The 63-year-old Daniels would not be subject to a rule that requires most Purdue administrators to retire at age 65. Trustees vice chairman Thomas Spurgeon said Tuesday that under university policy, newly hired people can stay in their post until they can build a $44,000 annuity. He said that typically takes seven to eight years.

There is little question Daniels has support among the 10-member board of trustees: He appointed eight of them, including three he re-appointed on Tuesday.

Daniels, who received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1971 and a law degree from Georgetown University in 1979, will be the first president of Purdue without extensive experience administering higher education. But he's no stranger to new endeavors: He had never run for elective office before his first gubernatorial run eight years ago.

His other former jobs include White House budget director, president of Eli Lilly and Co.'s North American Pharmaceutical Operations, CEO of the Hudson Institute conservative think tank, chief of staff to Sen. Richard Lugar and a senior adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

Daniels declined last year to seek the Republican presidential nomination, citing family considerations, but has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate to presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

While his appointment at Purdue likely will end that talk, Indianapolis Republican strategist Mike Murphy said it could give Daniels a strong launch pad should he seek office again later.

"It provides Mitch with a great national platform, a la Woodrow Wilson at Princeton," he said.

Indiana Democrats, who have spent the last eight years scrapping with Daniels, said his appointment will cloud the perception of Purdue as a non-partisan institution. State Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said the university's decisions under his tenure would be viewed through the "kaleidoscope" of Republican interests.

However, Dennis Barden, senior vice president with Illinois-based executive search firm Witt/Kiefer, said Daniels would clearly meet the needs of the job as a university president, which is increasingly dominated by fundraising and external relations.

"Purdue is just taking what I would think is an enormously giant leap in terms of working with the Legislature," said Barden, who once ran Witt/Kiefer's higher education practice.

Cordova is retiring next month after leading the school for five years. She turns 65 in August.

Daniels has been rumored to be a candidate since Cordova announced in July 2011 that she would retire.

Michael Berghoff, the Purdue trustee who has chaired the presidential search committee, wouldn’t comment on the rumors about Daniels during an interview with IBJ in March. But he did acknowledge that the Purdue trustees were looking for someone who had the ability both to raise money and to make the university operate efficiently.

“Perhaps five years ago, 10 years ago, the financial piece was mostly about fundraising,” said Berghoff, a Purdue alumnus who is president of Lenex Steel Corp. in Indianapolis. “Now, the financial piece is about fundraising as well as about operations.”

Daniels will take Purdue’s helm amid major challenges facing the university and its peers. U.S. public research universities like Purdue are facing clouds ahead, after roughly 20 years of “boom times,” wrote higher education analysts at New York-based Moody’s Investors Service in a December report. Students and parents increasingly can’t absorb massive tuition hikes, and state funding has not kept pace with inflation.

“It’s definitely a tougher environment,” said Diane Viacava, Moody’s analyst following Purdue, which Moody’s assigns its highest credit rating. “Although higher education remains highly desirable, it is increasingly competitive.”

Purdue is the state’s seventh-largest employer, with 15,000 workers. Its well-regarded programs in science, technology, engineering, computers and agriculture churn out a steady stream of the workers employers want.

In addition, its professors’ research can produce the technical innovations needed to launch new high-value products and companies that have the best shot of reversing Indiana’s long decline, relative to the rest of the nation, in personal incomes.

 

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  • Ramz
    As many have stated..this is a major conflict of interest..as if people don't already know how corrupt government really is. The fact of the matter is this, when terms are up they have "connections" that will gladly lookout for one another and continues the cycle. The world in which we live in is corrupt, plain and simple no matter the sector, the state, nation or globally...its all about the might dollar. When it comes down to it, you really can't trust anyone but yourself.
  • equity, gender or otherwise
    "The 63-year-old Daniels would not be subject to a rule that requires most Purdue administrators to retire at age 65. Trustees vice chairman Thomas Spurgeon said Tuesday that under university policy, newly hired people can stay in their post until they can build a $44,000 annuity. He said that typically takes seven to eight years." Did France Cordova have enough time to build a $44,000 annuity in her five years at Purdue? It was said she was retiring because she reached the mandatory age of 65. When was this policy instituted?
  • Residence?
    So after the big deal with Mitch and family insisting on living in their Carmel mansion rather than the governor's residence on Meridian Street, where will the new first family of Purdue live? Or perhaps the folks at Purdue don't care where he lives as long as he "brings home the bacon."
  • Good Choice
    I like the choice. Higher education would be well served even if he were only 1/2 as effective at Purdue as he has been in the state house. Two thumbs up!!!!!
  • Purdue Pete
    Purdue Pete signs up for Spanish classes in anticipation of Mitch’s new lease deal with Concessiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte
  • Hope For Higher Ed
    If the Trustees have the courage to hire someone who has not spent their entire career in higher education administration, there might be hope for our higher education system. Congratulations to Purdue for considiering the hiring of someone who brings the political savvy and adminstrative experience to slow down the tuitiion cost freight train. Over the past 30 years we have witnessed tuition increases at our land-grant institutions far exceed the rate of inflation. This Buckeye thinks it is a great move. Go Mitch Go.
  • Rules Apply To Everyone
    Governor Mitch Daniels terminated David Lott Hardy as Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission chairman because of the “appearance of impropriety”, and specifically breaking the spirit of a mandatory one-year cooling-off rule.
  • Daniels
    The purpose of the one-year cooling off period is so that the new employer doesn't get political favors from the ex-governor. Since Mitch didn't do Purdue any favors while he was in office, why would he do them any after he leaves office?
  • Come on people
    It's Purdue, what's hte big deal???
  • Sign Petition
    Purdue University Trustees: Eliminate Governor Mitch Daniels from Consideration For Purdue President Eliminate Governor Mitch Daniels from Consideration For Purdue President Indiana State Ethics Commission requires Indiana executive branch employees to comply with a mandatory one-year cooling-off rule when considering outside employment with organizations doing business with the state or has the appearance of impropriety. Purdue Trustee Michael Berghoff, who chaired the Presidential Search Committee, was appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels, and his company has received millions in state incentives and funding. 8 of 10 Purdue Trustees were appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels creating a conflict of interest. http://www.change.org/
  • Conflict of Interest
    Yesterday, Governor Daniels reappointed three Purdue trustees, including Michael Berghoff, who led the search committee. That point was echoed by several grassroots watchdog groups and good-government organizations. “It does raise questions of impartiality and decision-making,” said Julia Vaughn of Common Cause. Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, used even blunter language: “This definitely has an odor to it.”
  • bi-partisan
    If he were smart he would not bring cronyism to W. Laf. Going to watch to see if a high profile Democrat is brought on board...
  • Governor Withdrawals Job Bid
    Maryland Governor Glendening dropped his bid for the chancellorship Wednesday night amid mounting criticism for seeking a job that would be filled by regents he had appointed. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2001-12-07/news/0112070081_1_board-of-regents-glendening-tydings
  • One Year Cooling Off Period Law
    I thought the executive branch had a one year cooling off period to avoid these conflicts of interest. The Indiana State Ethics Commission should investigate.
  • Election Fraud
    Apparently Vladimir Putin is not the only one who rigs elections and bypasses legal term limits without any fear of interference.
  • great choice
    How ironic the anti educational gov becomes the president of a state university. Will he live in the city or in Carmel? Will he loose hundreds of millions of dollars? Will he sell any of the assets, like the stadium? I am happy to see Mitch appoint himself to a new post. Will he take Mitch Robb with him to help deminish the reputation that has been so successful the last several years. Yeah rah IU.

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