Pharos-Tribune

Columns

July 25, 2012

Purdue’s one percent solution

(Continued)

This is potentially problematic for running a major research university if you’re Daniels, who has no academic background.

While he was tacitly exploring a presidential bid in his second term as a sitting governor, he signed onto state budget cuts, unaware that corporate taxes held in one account accumulated to more than $300 million, forcing cuts throughout the state.

Who will “stop” him or at least hold him accountable or question him for those kinds of mistakes at Purdue? The answer is apparently no one. The trustees have already indicated where their allegiances are, and they’re not going to go back on a decision that will make them look bad. If this sounds eerily similar to what’s just happened at Penn State, it should.

It also should be interesting to some that one of the moves the trustees made five years ago when they hired outgoing Purdue President France Cordova was to pass over the resume of another candidate, Sally Frost Mason. She went on to become the University of Iowa president, and that took some gumption from the Purdue board because Mason and her husband had made millions in donations to Purdue. Cordova hadn’t given a dime.

It was a sign that Purdue was willing to hire what trustees perceived to be the best qualified person for the job, even though Mason had a sterling record as Purdue’s provost, the No. 2 position on campus.

In choosing Daniels, the trustees, some of whom served when Cordova was hired, have apparently chosen politics over academic performance. That led at least one former dean, Marilyn Haring, to travel back to West Lafayette to speak against the hiring. Haring reasoned at a rally that a major research university such as Purdue needs a president with a background in higher education, which Daniels does not have, she rescinded a $1 million gift she had pledged to the university in her will.

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