Purdue hopes huge donation first of many under Daniels

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Purdue University has high hopes that former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ new role as president and donation pitchman eventually will help double charitable contributions to the school.

That goal was revealed Monday after the school announced a record-breaking gift from an anonymous couple who agreed to include a $65 million gift in their will as an “endorsement for [Daniels’] new leadership role,” said Lisa Calvert, Purdue’s vice president for development.

A decade of discussions with the donors preceded the deal, which Daniels’ new administration sealed in January after he took office at Purdue.

The $65 million will go to the College of Agriculture without restrictions on how the money is spent.

“This gift is a tremendous vote of confidence for all of Purdue and our College of Agriculture,” Daniels said in a prepared statement. “Their generosity will enhance Purdue Agriculture’s ability to educate future generations of food and agriculture leaders and scientists, make the discoveries that improve and save lives, and ensure those discoveries make it into the hands of the people who need them.”

The university announced in June that Daniels would replace France Cordova as president.

Among the challenges he faces in West Lafayette is finding new revenue to plug funding holes left by shrinking state appropriations. Daniels himself cut $180 million from Indiana’s higher education budget to help the state balance its budget.

Calvert said discussions among Purdue administrators began about two years ago on the need to find alternative revenue sources.

“We had a very interesting conversation about the future of higher education and that the funding model was not sustainable for public research universities,” she said. “Philanthropy was designated as the largest [new] revenue stream.”

Ideally, the university will double the amount of donations it receives annually within the next 10 years, Calvert said.

Purdue had its second-best fundraising year in 2012, finishing just shy of $300 million. Its best year was 2003, when it received almost $312 million in gifts.

Calvert said donations are up 6 percent so far this fiscal year, which began July 1.

She credited the gains to the June announcement of Daniels’ appointment.

“We’re seeing our donors respond at all levels,” she said.

Fundraising consultants say Daniels’ political career could be a double-edged sword when it comes to raising contributions.

Daniels is much better-known than most new university presidents, which will establish confidence more quickly. But his political career also created critics, meaning some new donors will be harder to win over and some existing donors might need to be persuaded to continue giving, said Kris Kindelsperger, a senior executive consultant for Johnson Grossnickle Associates in Greenwood, which specializes in philanthropic consulting.

Regardless of his previous office, Daniels and his administration at Purdue will need to communicate the same messages that any university donors want to hear, Kindelsperger said.

“As a general rule,” he said, “at the flagship state university level, people want to see evidence of national and international excellence.”


  • Don't count your chickens before they are hatched
    It's not yet a gift. Yes Purdue is cut into this fellow's will but how long will he last? 2o years? Thirty years? This is not a contract where he has an obligation to pay Purdue. He can change the will at any time just like Granpa can if Junior doesn't kiss his butt. And 65 million of what? Stock in American Airlines that could be worthless in five years? If this fellow wants to give money to Purdue he can write a check right now. Otherwise what is he waiting for other than to make Daniels look like he is doing something. Until the money is in a Purdue bank account this isn't any different than the education professor that claimed she was cutting Purdue out of her massive donation. Yea riiight.
  • Re: Dennis
    Dennis, Unfortunately those numbers would not have gotten a non-minority student into Purdue for a number of years. The GPA is way below average and the SAT is in the 40% range with the new scoring. The 1480 isn't a 90% like the old test.
  • I agree With Truth Feels Good
    The donors could have witheld the money or gifted it to some other beneficiary if they didn't like Daniels. Political cronyism had nothing to do with it. For one thing,it is a gift made in their wills, not an inter vivos gift, and Daniels may be long gone, retired or dead when they die. The fact is, wealthy donors like to know that their legacies will be used to accomplish big things. Accomplishing big things takes vision. Jischke had it. Daniels has it. Cordova was okay,but she struck me as a selection designed to give Purdue a more modern image: NASA director, great resume, single, female, minority. While she did raise funds, she wasn't thought of by many as the visionary that Jischke was, or that Daniels should be. More big gifts will be forthcoming, perhaps even some from former political rivals. We shouldn't hold our breath waiting for anything from Truth Hurts or other Daniels bashers, most of whom have a single issue focus, like Right To Work, the toll road, daylight savings time, the I-69 extension, etc.
  • Do huge donations mean more in-state students will be accepted
    An in-state student with a 3.0 gpa, 1480 SAT, and Academic Honors is not good enough to get into Purdue.... maybe with these huge donations, they will be able to "afford" to lower the number of spaces reserved for out-of-state students and let in-state students into our state universities.
  • Did you just read the headline?
    I read the linked-to article...the donors will remain anonymous...so you get no statement from them...based on the rest of the article, looks to me like Mitch sealed the deal...the estate didn't belong to Purdue before Daniels...now it does...nuff said...
  • $65 million donation
    Whatever the plans are for the $65 million, please do not change the name of the college. Can we all say Wishard?
  • Your Rash Response Hurts
    Read the article you linked to. I am not a Daniels supporter, but also not a person who spews nonsense. He obviously is being humble and downplaying that the gift was about him. Whether it was or was not, he simply states, ".... lets remember this is about Purdue, not any one person...." That's not him admitting anything, that's him doing the proper thing and downplaying that he had much to do with this. My guess is, the donors were wanting to give for a long time, but maybe were not happy with the prior president, and this was something that helped sway them. But sure, go on, bash anything that has to do with Republicans and money.
  • Mitch Daniels admits he had nothing to do with this donation.
    Wealthy donors don't like being portrayed as giving gifts of allegiance to some political king. Mitch Daniels admits he had nothing to do with this donation. http://www.jconline.com/article/20130218/NEWS0501/302180026/Mitch-Daniels-downplays-endorsement-65M-gift-Purdue

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