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Purdue University selects Gov. Daniels as 12th president

POSTED AT 07:28 PM ON Jun. 24, 2012  (UPDATED AT 07:29 PM ON Jun. 24, 2012)

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WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University’s Board of Trustees selected current Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as Purdue’s next president during a meeting Thursday.

Gov. Daniels, wearing a black-and-gold-striped tie during the trustees’ meeting, said he was excited and deeply honored to take on his new role as Purdue’s 12th president and that Purdue is a “premiere community of problem-solvers” that can tackle the challenges facing higher education.

He said he is proud to have been asked to serve in the position.

“No institution of any kind means more to Indiana than Purdue University,” Daniels said, adding that both state and national success depend on the expertise of Purdue’s graduates.

“I could conceive of no other assignment where a person could contribute more to Indiana.”

Trustee chairman Keith Krach emphasized Daniels’ passion for higher education, his global statesman profile that can “take Purdue to greater heights” and his leadership experience and ability to attract top talent.

“We believe that the university with the best people wins,” Krach said, calling Daniels and Purdue’s faculty an “unbeatable combination.”

Student Trustee Miranda McCormack said she received nothing but positive comments from students since the news broke and said she is confident Daniels will be an approachable president engaged with the student body.

Krach and Michael Berghoff, a trustee and chair of the presidential search committee, spoke at length about the selection process. It began about a year ago with a 13-member search committee and outside help from an executive recruiting firm.

“We looked at every sitting president of a major university,” Krach said. “We looked at government leaders, business leaders. We didn’t leave one stone unturned.”

While the search committee approved multiple candidates it felt were qualified to be Purdue’s next president, Berghoff said Daniels was “the most frequently nominated nominee throughout this whole process.”

There are 10 members of the Purdue Board of Trustees. According to Indiana law, the state governor appoints seven members to the Purdue Board of Trustees, and the Purdue Alumni Association elects three members.

According to the Purdue Board of Trustees website, Daniels appointed two trustees within the past year. Daniels also re-appointed three of the Purdue trustees June 19, along with several other higher education reappointments.

Daniels said he would spend his time learning more about Purdue and higher education before he takes office.

“The next six months, for me, will be occupied by lots of listening and very little talking,” Daniels said.

Gov. Daniels said that, effective immediately, he would recuse himself from any partisan activity or commentary in his role as governor. His current term will end in January 2013, and he will take office as Purdue’s president once this term expires.

In the interim, Purdue’s Provost Timothy Sands will serve as the university’s president. Current Purdue president France Córdova announced in July 2011 that she would step down when her contract ends in July 2012.

Daniels was congratulated by various Bloomington and IU officials for his new position, including Rep. Todd Young, R-Bloomington, and IU President Michael McRobbie.

IU President Michael McRobbie congratulated Daniels in a press release. “I offer my best wishes and support to Governor Daniels as he enters what certainly will be an exciting new chapter in his impressive career,” McRobbie said.

John Ketzenberger, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, said Daniels will still have a platform to remain in the national spotlight, while Purdue will get Daniels’ political, private sector and Fortune 500 executive experience.

“He would be able to leverage fundraising like no other person that I could think of in Indiana,” Ketzenberger said. “That’s increasingly important as the legislature has reduced funding for higher education in the last five years, some of it ironically under Gov. Daniels’ request.”

Both Purdue and IU rely on government relations staffs to maintain relationships with the state legislature. But Ketzenberger said it will be “interesting” to see how a different relationship between Daniels (as Purdue president) and the state legislature would play out.

Ketzenberger also pointed out a trend of hiring private sector executives to fill higher education administrative spots.

Ketzenberger said Daniels will bring a corporate mindset to higher education administration, which has historically valued a background in academia.

“I think it’ll be interesting to see how someone from politics and the private sector approaches higher education,” Ketzenberger said.

 

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