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Purdue hires INDOT commissioner

Purdue University

Purdue’s next vice president for physical facilities is coming from state government.

The university is hiring Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Cline. He graduated from Purdue in 1988 with a degree in civil engineering.

Cline has been with INDOT since 2006. When Purdue President Mitch Daniels was governor, he appointed Cline as commissioner in 2010. Governor Mike Pence reappointed him to the position earlier this year.

Cline oversees a department with 3,600 people and an annual operating budget of $400 million. Purdue Physical Facilities has approximately 1,000 employees and is responsible for such things as buildings and grounds, energy and engineering services, and project management and construction.

If the Board of Trustees approves his hiring, Cline would replace Bob McMains, who took a job at the University of Alabama-Birmingham earlier this month.

The state’s Transparency Portal shows Cline’s INDOT salary is nearly $137,800. A university spokesperson says he will earn a base salary of $200,000 in West Lafayette. It’s not yet known if Cline will have performance based incentives, similar to what Daniels has in his contract. McMains earned $238,700 last year as vice president.

To get the vice president of physical facilities job, Cline needed the approval of the state Ethics Commission. That’s because INDOT and Purdue collaborate on a number of projects and Purdue receives federal money through an INDOT program.

Normally, Cline would have to wait a year after leaving state government before taking a job with an employer that’s linked to the state agency he’s been leading.  But Governor Mike Pence’s office has issued a waiver allowing Cline to skip that requirement and become Purdue’s Vice President for Physical Facilities. In the waiver, the governor’s office says Cline’s experience as INDOT commissioner will benefit his service to the state university and is therefore in the public interest.

The Purdue position would have required Cline to lobby the legislature – something that is prohibited for one year after leaving a state government position.  Purdue says other employees will carry out that function.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.