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Purdue officially makes Daniels its next president

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As expected, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was officially introduced Thursday as the next president of Purdue University, quashing speculation that he would be tapped as a vice presidential candidate or a Cabinet appointee should Mitt Romney win the White House in November.

Purdue officials introduced Daniels as the school's new leader Thursday. Several media outlets, including IBJ, reported the selection earlier this week.

The 63-year-old Daniels will succeed France Cordova. She is stepping down next month after five years at Purdue's helm.

Daniels has served two terms as governor and is barred by state law from seeking a third term.

The former budget director under President George W. Bush had been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate but dashed GOP hopes last year when he said he wouldn't enter the race because of family considerations. He has also been suggested as a running mate for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney but said repeatedly he wasn't interested.

Purdue officials announced the former White House budget director and Eli Lilly executive Thursday would be the university's 12th president following a unanimous vote by the school's Board of Trustees, eight of whom were appointed by Daniels. One trustee was out of the country and did not vote.

Daniels is expected to bring a business-minded approach and an image as an efficient manager to the job he takes over in January, after his second term as governor ends. But he'll also find himself on the flip side of a challenging education environment that has seen state money for public institutions decline dramatically in recent years.

As governor, Daniels ordered $150 million carved out of state higher education funding in December 2009 as the state's revenues declined. Purdue's state funding has fallen from a peak of $262 million in 2008-09 to $233.9 million for the just-completed school year.

The university also came under fire from state lawmakers over its tuition increases at the height of the recession. Purdue's in-state tuition rates have risen by as much as 62 percent since 2004, according to figures provided by the university.

Daniels has rejected university leaders' contention that state aid cuts have forced them to raise tuition.

"That's not true," Daniels said Wednesday. "The more money that's been poured in, the faster tuitions have gone up. It would be a very flawed analysis that suggested it worked the other way around."

Daniels has aggressively tackled education issues during his tenure, helping to establish Western Governors University, an online option for nontraditional students, and pushing the Legislature to reduce the number of credit hours it takes to achieve some degrees. He also led changes in K-12 education, including the nation's broadest use of school vouchers.

His reputation for pushing through aggressive change could get a mixed reception on the 40,000-student West Lafayette campus. During his tenure as governor, he has rankled union activists upset by Indiana's new right-to-work law and drew fire over state efforts to privatize the state's welfare system and cut public funding to Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions.

But analysts say he will bring to Purdue leadership skills and a national reputation from his days as a former White House budget director that will help him tackle the challenges ahead. He also will give Purdue coveted fundraising clout as the university aims to double its $200 million in annual gifts over the next decade.

Daniels has easily outpaced his Democratic opponents in his two campaigns for governor by tapping into a national network of donors who supported George W. Bush's presidential races.

"One of the top three jobs for a university president, no matter what the circumstances, is fundraising," said Dennis Barden, senior vice president with the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer.

"Your average politician is pretty fickle when it comes to connecting with people, engaging with them, building relationships with them, and stating a case for support. These are all the things that lead to excellent fundraising," Barden said.

Though Purdue's past presidents have largely been scholars or scientists — Cordova is an astrophysicist — Daniels isn't the first politician to take over a university. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates served as president of Texas A&M University and is now chancellor of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Former governors David Boren of Oklahoma and Richard Celeste of Ohio also have led universities.

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  • Cronyism at its worst
    Daniels appointed 8 of the 10 trustees sitting on Purdue's board. As Dan Garza said: ""The practice of favoritism based on relationships and connections - rather than someone who demonstrates top credentials and well-suited experience – ultimately results in vastly inferior government service to the public." It's Purdue's shame that Indiana's little Putin will be their new president.
  • About the Trustees
    Who are the trustees appointed by Daniels?
  • Crony Capitalism
    Daniels appoints Keith Krach to the board shortly after Krach's arrest for DUI. http://www.spendmatters.com/index.cfm/2007/4/10/Some-Folks-Cant-Get-over-the-B2B-Hangover Now Keith Krach is President of the Board and appoints Daniels. Is that crony capitalism or what?
  • He can raise money.
    These days those jobs are about raising money far more than anything else, and he will do a great job of that. That is all that matters...
  • Boiler-Up!
    I'd like to commend "IU Fan" for your intelligent remarks (unlike most of the other comments attached). No doubt, Gov. Daniels is a great catch for Purdue and future Boilermakers. It is unfortunate that some Indiana residents may lack the means, the interest, or the aptitude (Shaytan, feel free to consult your dictionary...or borrow one if you don't have one)- to be able to attend great Indiana universities like Purdue and IU (not to mention other great schools like Ball State, Butler, DePauw, ND, etc.). Being a bit more educated could go a long way towards eliminating some of the idiotic and destructive comments made by some people...
  • !!!
    Well, as an I.U. fan I hate to see Mitch Daniels go to a "rival" school. I have no doubt that this school will thrive under his direction much like the state has. As and Indiana resident I would like to congratulate Purdue on what, I have no doubt, will be an outstanding choice in leadership. That said, as an I.U. fan, I would rather have seen Obama picked for this position. That way one of our rivals would be broke in a year or two and most likely eliminated altogether. Then he could start pointing fingers at his board, his staff, and the students to be blamed for his UTTER failure!
  • Protest Continues
    Purdue University Trustees: Eliminate Governor Mitch Daniels from Consideration For Purdue President https://www.change.org/petitions/purdue-university-trustees-eliminate-governor-mitch-daniels-from-consideration-for-purdue-president#
  • Kudos
    It's unfortunate that the liberals, union workers and other simpletons who can't accept what a stupendous job Gov. Daniels has done keeping Indiana's economy well ahead of our neighbors will bash him and Purdue for this appointment. Fortunately, wise people who think out of the box (much like Gov. Daniels) sought him out to take Purdue to the next level in terms of prestige. Hopefully one day the small minded people who are bashing him now will have a son or a daughter who wants to be an engineer and realize what a great job he has done at Purdue and send their child there to learn.
  • Update
    In other news, the Indiana University student enrollment is the highest in record history. Back to the news room...
  • Conflit of Interest
    Gov. Daniels appointed 8 of the 10 trustees sitting on Purdue's board that just unanimously voted him President. How is that okay? Ethics have been thrown out the window apparently. "Daniels, 63, is two years shy of meeting the school's retirement policy for high-ranking executives. But trustees can have that requirement waived." Well of course they will. He hired them, they will do whatever he wants. BoilerDown.
    • Brighter Days
      He is a poor example to set for students. As he represents an individual who has used the political and even boards of companies to dupe its members of their earnings and means of survival. From his selling of his Ipalco stock, to his using of his Gov position to get under the table contributions, he is a poor example to set. But I guess he is a poster child for what being a dishonest soul will make you look like? They say Hell does not exist, look at his face!

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