Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daniels a Coup for Purdue

Daniels a Coup for Purdue
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 20, 2012

For those of us disappointed he opted to sit on the sidelines for the 2012 GOP presidential nominating cavalcade, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will in fact, become president – of Purdue University.

In selecting the Monongahela, PA native as its 12th president, Purdue welcomes a major league name to lead an engineering-based institution in a major league conference – the Big Ten. Daniels, 63, no stranger to the limelight, but who tends to shy away from the cameras, is far from aloof as he has a good personality, wry sense of humor and is rather cerebral.

Daniels commands tremendous respect from people and as such carries with him the ability to assemble a winning team – something that helped make him a successful two-term governor. That, along with his connections, will surely compensate for his lack of experience in the academic arena.

Daniels will overcome whatever learning curve and shortcomings his critics aver simply by listening to their experience-based suggestions. After all, they will want Daniels to succeed as a non-partisan university president which is a less combative position than governor. The only hope of failure could emerge from spiteful academic elitists who oppose a Republican or of course 11 other Big Ten rivals!

He will also succeed by staying true to his fiscal roots of budget cutting and overall penurious demeanor. Daniels brings to West Lafayette solid business acumen, including his time as a senior executive at Eli Lilly and tenure as director of the federal Office of Management and Budget.

Daniels should fast become a favorite of students as the governor has worked strenuously to keep costs down and supports making college affordable for all students. He played an active role in increasing the visibility of Western Governor’s University here in Indiana. And he’s no academic slouch himself, earning his bachelor’s degree at Princeton University and his law degree at Georgetown University.

With college and university costs continuing to skyrocket, “Our Man Mitch,” may very well be the answer not just for Purdue but as an example for how it might be done on campuses across the nation. Daniels could very well leave a stronger legacy in academia than in government.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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