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During final board meeting, Purdue president and provost say tearful goodbyes

 Purdue President Mitch Daniels, Provost Jak Akridge, and Akridge’s wife Michelle (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)
Purdue President Mitch Daniels, Provost Jak Akridge, and Akridge’s wife Michelle (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

During their final board of trustees meeting Friday, Purdue President Mitch Daniels and Provost Jay Akridge said their tearful goodbyes to the university.

But neither one is going too far in the immediate future.

Both men stepping down from their roles will remain on at the university in some capacity. Akridge will return to his faculty position and Daniels is expected to serve as chairman of the Purdue Research Foundation.

In his final speech before the board, Daniels thanked the trustees for all they had done to support him.

“It was never about any individual or collection,” he said. “It’s about how well we handle the things that have been entrusted to us. I believe I can claim we did OK.”

Daniels said the final accounting of his success would be in whether he had left the university in good hands. He said he believed he had.

“It’s on all of you, all of you, to prove that’s right,” he said. “You’re remaining time of trust, of entrustment, to make sure that you keep our Boiler Up.”

Incoming Purdue President Mung Chiang said he’s grateful to Daniels for his service to the university over more than a decade.

“I know that we have so many Boilermakers joining me today and thanking President Daniels and the board,” he said. “I look forward to learning from all of them continuously into the future.”

Daniels is moving to chair the Purdue Research Foundation at the request of Mung, who has said he wants to spend his first year focused on students, faculty, and staff.

Friday began a weeks-long celebration of Daniels’ tenure at Purdue called “Mitchfest” which will include an outdoor campus festival, free speech symposium, and a conversation between Daniels and former President George W. Bush.

Also Friday, the city of West Lafayette renamed a portion of State Street, which runs through the Purdue University campus, “Mitch Daniels Boulevard.”