Mitch Daniels stepping down as president of Purdue University

Mung Chiang (right) has been named to succeed Mitch Daniels as president of Purdue University in January 2023. (Image courtesy of Purdue University)

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is stepping down as president of Purdue University after 10 years in the role, Purdue announced Friday.

Daniels, 73, will serve until Jan. 1, when he will be replaced by Mung Chiang, the university’s dean of engineering and executive vice president for strategic initiatives, the school said. Chiang has been at Purdue for five years.

“The last decade has seen Purdue attain unprecedented levels of national recognition, reflected in record enrollments, academic rankings, and overall reputation,” Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Berghoff said in a written statement about Daniels’ tenure.

Speaking during Friday’s board meeting, during which Chiang was elected, Berghoff said Daniels indicated last year that he was considering retirement in the near future. Daniels then told the board in April that he would retire at the end of the year, Berghoff said.

Daniels, who served as Indiana’s governor from 2005 to 2013, became Purdue’s 12th president in January 2013. Seven weeks into his presidency, he announced a two-year tuition freeze to address rising college costs. Tuition has been frozen at the school ever since.

“My partner and friend, President Daniels, is part of a generation of proud Boilermakers who take small steps and turn them into giant leaps,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday in written comments. “Purdue University always has been a world class institution with successful graduates spanning the globe, and Mitch has taken the university to even higher levels. During his 10 years at the helm, Mitch has delivered higher education at the highest proven value, from freezing tuition during his entire tenure, to creating a national online university, establishing a network of Indiana STEM charter schools, and making record investments in world-class research.”

Purdue said Chiang has played a central role in establishing relationships with federal agencies in the national security and economic development sectors, and in recruiting companies to invest and create jobs in Purdue’s Discovery Park District. Under Chiang, Purdue’s engineering school has risen to its highest national rankings. U.S. News & World Report ranks the engineering program No. 4 among graduate programs, No. 3 for online programs and No. 8 for undergraduate education.

“Mung is the ideal choice to lead Purdue into its next ‘giant leap,’” Berghoff  said. “The board could not be more confident in this selection, as we have had the opportunity to observe his performance across a broad range of duties for five years. He has displayed not only academic excellence but also administrative acumen, effective relationship-building with academic, governmental, and business partners, and the skills of public communications. He brings the entire package of talents and experience necessary to take our university further forward.

Chiang earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and mathematics and master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He came to Purdue from Princeton University, where he was the first chairman of Princeton’s Entrepreneurial Council. He holds 25 patents.

Berghoff said Mung had been offered the presidency of several other schools. “The board is grateful that his loyalty to Purdue kept him here and available as this time of transition arrived,” he said.

Chiang offered high praise for Daniels, calling him “the most innovative president in America.”

“President Daniels built Purdue into the most consequential public university in the United States,” Chiang said. “Under Mitch’s leadership, our university attained the strongest academic reputation, from record-breaking enrollment to all-time-high research excellence, from the Ever True campaign to the transformed campus.”

Daniels did not directly address his decision to step down during the board meeting, but praised the choice of Chiang.

“We have here a person uniquely qualified to capitalize on the investments we’ve made over the last decade—hundreds of millions of dollars in people and facilities and connections and partnerships, much which I think his skill set is so ideally suited,” Daniels said. “[Chiang] will, I promise you, take you places no one else could.”

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29 thoughts on “Mitch Daniels stepping down as president of Purdue University

  1. If Mr. Daniels chooses to do nothing else, he has been a great treasure of Indiana. Perhaps he will continue to take on new initiatives and make Indiana better. Everything he touches is very much improved when he leaves it. As an IU Alum, I have been envious of Purdue for 10 years!

  2. Good things can’t last forever. I knew Mitch back when he was Sen. Lugar’s top aide, and though we didn’t keep in touch over the years I watch his moves through politics, business, and academia with ease, innovation, and grace. Indiana benefited from his leadership in whatever role he served. I wish him well in whatever endeavor he chooses to pursue next.

  3. Mitch, please, please, run for POTUS. The country needed you then and it needs you now, even more. Everything you touch, improves. Please, give it consideration.

  4. Especially considering the times, MD the greatest Pres in Purdue history. Other greats rode historic and demographic waves. MD had wind in his face and surpassed all competition with grace.

    As hard as it is to see Mitch step down, Mung Chiang is a treasure in his own right. A BRILLIANT scientist with extraordinary leadership credentials. He was undoubtedly at the top of Presidential search lists across the country (except Harvard, whose woke wickets Chiang could have never negotiated).

    The back-to-back combo of Daniels and Chiang is literally phenomenal. No other university in the world can boast such a successive tandem. Fabulous for Indiana.

    1. As good as Dr. Chiang may be, was there a search conducted to replace Mitch? If so, the process does not seem to have been transparent. At least for the Indiana public. Of course, I could just be out of the loop, not living in W. Lafayette. But it seems as if the Purdue faculty were also left out of the loop. “Purdue’s professor groups ‘disappointed’ in secretive presidential search” (https://www.purdueexponent.org/campus/article_c66034b8-eb12-11ec-b3b4-2344144545d2.html).

  5. As a proud Purdue alum, AMEN to all the above comments; Mitch Daniels will be greatly missed and has done a wonderful job at Purdue.

    As for running for President, his wife put the kibosh on that years ago due to their personal life. It would undoubtedly be played up against them, testifying to the stupidity and vacuousness of today’s electorate. If they were Democrats, they would be exalted…but as Republicans, they would be excoriated. It’s nothing she wants them to go through…and you can’t blame her. It’s why we have career political dupes and dummies like Biden, Schumer, Pelosi, Harris, et al. running (or should I say ruining) the country.

    1. For the most part, I am a Republican, Sherry. ‘Sorry to have triggered you; I hope you’re enjoying your $5.25/gallon gasoline.

  6. Glad that Purdue could keep tuition down while have less Indiana students and more foreign students to keep tuition down. Thought it was a land grant college set up to teach Hoosiers. Maybe I am missing something. Universities have become a scam in the US. Glad the Chinese will be running Purdue…

    1. Yep – you might be missing some things.

      There was a period of time (mid 2010`s) it started to skew out of state, and they corrected to get to a majority of Indiana residents. 2021 received a slew of out-of-state applications due to aggressive leadership during covid for in-person learning (https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2021/Q2/purdue-to-welcome-largest-ever-incoming-class-this-fall.html), so like a lot of things last couple of years , kind of discounting current ratios as indicitibe of long-term trends.

      While agreeing that universities at large are coming to reckon with value provided, as both an alum and a parent of a student matriculating in 2022, I observed Purdue previous and even more, now, focuses very intentionally on employability, expectations in graduation with specific majors, etc.

      As far as the nationalism comment, he was educated in secondary school in UK-sovereign Hong Kong, with subsequent university education / work all in the US. Moreover, been working direct with President Daniels for several years, including lines in the sand drawn by the admin to the Chinese students/government when there was starting to be intimidation.

      The background seems appropriate, as well as the resounding character endorsements. Daniels cant go forever, and Dr. Chaimg seems very reasonable.

  7. As much as I would like to see Mitch run for POTUS, he has always said he wasn’t interested. The one and only public office he was interested in was Governor. With Gov. Holcomb being term limited, maybe Mitch would consider coming back and being Governor again. It would be the greatest thing to happen.

    He would be a much welcomed voice in what is now just the buzzing nonsense of politics. He balanced our finances and brought this state back from the brink in the first go round. Can you imagine what he would do with a state that is now afloat and flush with cash? The bold initiatives and investments he would likely make would be all the more transformational.

    Draft MyManMitch 2.0

  8. When he took the Purdue presidents position, it completed what is considered a requirement, university president, to fill the NCAA leadership position — Its now open and Mitch is ready for one more run —

  9. As an independent, I’d vote for Mitch for President. I often wonder where we’d be today had Mitch ran for President in 2012.

    After losing to Obama in 2012, the national Republican Party went full-blown populist and further divided our country based on religion, race, etc. to drum up support in hurting communities. With a minority president, it was an easy (albeit spineless) path for the Republican Party to take, and it ultimately led to where were are today (see: MAGA). An unfortunate reality may be that had Daniels won the 2012 election (which would’ve been unlikely), politics in the US would be much more sane in present day.

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