Monthly Conversation With Mitch Daniels

Jae Lee / WBAA News

When U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a few months ago he planned to move the department’s headquarters out of Washington, D.C., Purdue University President Mitch Daniels endorsed the idea every chance he got, and even started his school making some preparations in case Indiana was chosen as the new home.

That honor went instead to Kansas City, Missouri – but was there more Indiana could have done to back up its bid?

Jae Lee / WBAA News

Admitting as much when he used it in this year’s commencement address, Purdue President Mitch Daniels chose what he called a “distasteful, but descriptive word” – snowflake – to describe graduates at some of Purdue’s competitor institutions. President Daniels insists he’s received more positive comments about the remark than about almost any other speech he’s given, but the backlash was swift on social media, saying he shouldn’t have even invoked a term that’s often been co-opted by some conservatives to describe people with whom they don’t agree.

Jae Lee / WBAA News

Despite a slowdown wrought by the Purdue Senate, school president Mitch Daniels says he still thinks next year’s graduating class could be the first one to need to pass a civics exam to receive a diploma.

On this edition of WBAA’s Monthly Conversation with Mitch Daniels, we ask him about that timeline, and the one deciding the future of the Purdue Armory, which many community members seem to want to save.

Jae Lee / WBAA News

A hallmark of Mitch Daniels’ time as Indiana governor was the expansion of testing of Hoosier students. The tests given to K-12 students have never been more high-stakes than they are now, and that’s rankled plenty of teachers and administrators.

Jae Lee / WBAA News

At the beginning of each year, Purdue President Mitch Daniels pens an open letter to campus. Mostly, it talks about the high points of the past 12 months, but this year’s mentions an increasingly common topic: grit. It’s a qualitative measure of how ready a student is for school, life, and the challenges both pose.

Jae Lee / WBAA News

A number of elite schools, including members of the Ivy League, have gotten rid of the need for an ACT or SAT test score to get in. But Purdue President Mitch Daniels says in a recent Washington Post editorial that the West Lafayette campus will not be following suit.

On WBAA’s Monthly Conversation with him, we ask President Daniels why not and have him respond to an editorial in the Purdue student newspaper that points out what its writers think may be hypocrisy on the president’s part regarding how he talks about grade point averages and their worth.

Jae Lee / WBAA News

Quite a number of journalists took issue recently when Purdue President Mitch Daniels attempted to argue in his regular column for the Washington Post that there was too much scrutiny of government allowed by public records laws and attempts at transparency.

On this month's conversation with him, he says he’s in favor of those types of laws in principle, but do his actions – including using processes that restrict transparency in the State Street and Purdue Global deals – match up with his rhetoric?

Jae Lee / WBAA News

As we were preparing for this month’s conversation with Purdue President Mitch Daniels, a question came in from a loyal listener. Why, he asked, would Purdue even consider taking the name of Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter off of the business center his $8 million gift to Purdue helped endow, even if Schnatter admits to repeating a racial slur on a conference call with his company’s executives? Wouldn’t that be tantamount to limiting free speech on campus?

Jae Lee / WBAA News

In the last few years, Purdue has spent significant time and resources on trying to improve its recognizability in the global defense industry. The school now has its own defense research institute, but it was recently informed it did not win a bid to run the nuclear weapons-researching Los Alamos National Laboratory.

This month on WBAA’s conversation with Purdue President Mitch Daniels, we ask whether the bid was designed as a profile-raising exercise as much as anything else.

Jae Lee / WBAA News

In his yearly commencement address, Purdue President Mitch Daniels urged graduates to help stop the tribalism that’s plaguing the country. He also repeatedly mentioned how they could use the wealth they’ll generate to benefit society. But on this month’s conversation with him, he disagrees with the notion there’s a wealth gap in America, saying the statistics have been trumped up.

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