Thu June 21, 2012
Support mixed with experience concerns in Daniels' hire
Governor Mitch Daniels says he is going to do a lot of listening as he prepares to take over as Purdue’s 12th president.
University trustee John Hardin says that’s a sound approach because of Daniels’ limited experience working in higher education.
"His political experiences let him understand that leadership is the art of the possible," said Hardin. "I think he has a very inquiring mind that he will learn a lot and will make up for the fact that his hasn't been an academic leader period.”
Daniels calls his lack of time spent in academia "a legitimate concern." He said he will rely on provost Tim Sands to help him transition into the position.
Sands, who will act as president until Daniels takes over, says the governor and university don’t see eye to eye on all issues, but part of the transition is to gain mutual understanding, particularly on funding.
"He's got some of those view points very well established, the university has some others that are not exactly the same view point, so I think over the next six months we will be having that discussion.”
Sands says the response to the selection of Daniels as the university’s next president is mostly positive.
But, adds that the governor’s lack of direct experience in higher education is one of the main concerns he's heard raised.
"There are a lot of faculty who were questioning, not so much the wisdom of the appointment of the governor, but just the whole idea of bringing in someone who doesn't have the academic experience that most presidents of major research universities do," he said.
Joe Hornett is the senior vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation.
He says while Daniels may not have a background in higher education, he understands Purdue’s goals.
"He's a big fan of science and technology," he said. "He's actually played a key role in both attracting technology based companies, as well as retaining key faculty in those areas. He gets it."
Hornett says he is encouraged by Daniels’ message and thinks he will build on the foundation set by outgoing president France Córdova.
"The quality of the student body went up (under Cordova), the national rankings of the university went up (under Cordova) and clearly Governor Daniels, by some of the things he said today, has those same interests at heart in terms of moving Purdue to the forefront of American higher education," said Hornett.
Daniels admits there will be a learning curve as he transitions into working for the university.
But, believes his background in government will provide a unique point of view for Purdue.
Hardin says Daniels has shown a commitment to improving higher education and expects that to benefit the university’s future.
"This process of leading an institution like this is one that I think has endless possibilities if we work together in good faith," he said.