Pence’s support appears to give Ellspermann the inside track on the job, since the governor appoints all 14 members of the Ivy Tech board of directors, which will select the new president.
A search committee is seeking a replacement for retiring President Thomas Snyder, 72, a former executive at Remy International who has spent nearly 10 years in the job.
Bill Oesterle, a moderate Republican who is the former CEO of Angie's List, told Howey Politics Indiana that the turn events reflects a divide between the governor and Ellspermann over the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
"There is no question" there has been discord between Pence and Ellspermann over RFRA and the coming battle over extending civil rights, he said. "She's made it clear he needed to essentially fix the mess he's created.”
Ellspermann, a native of Ferdinand who is in her mid-50s, has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University and master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial engineering from the University of Louisville.
Before entering politics, she worked at General Motors, Michelin and Frito-Lay and founded her own consulting firm.
Elspermann would be joining Ivy Tech at a time the institution is under pressure to improve graduation rates that are substantially lower than those for community colleges nationally.