Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How will Mitch Daniels do...

I personally like Mitch Daniels. He certainly did well for Indiana budgetarily and has managed not to get caught up too much in the shifting Republican scene of the last four years, the waves that ousted old school Republicans (Lugar, me frankly) or shifted you toward libertarianism to survive (Pence?). 

However, I have wondered how well he'll do as President of Purdue.  I saw a sign of someone at Purdue protesting his appointment.  It said something like, "What experience do you have for this job?"

Being a university President is very much about raising money.  Being a successful politician certainly gives a person a lot of experience in that area.  So Daniels may do very well at that piece of the puzzle.

Daniels has been involved heavily with WGU, the online university (from out of state ;-) that he has promoted on television.  One perk for IWU of his Purdue presidency is that we don't have the governor of the state promoting competition with us. ;-) Whether he will push online education at Purdue is an interesting question. The president of the University of Virginia went majorly cross-ways with her university over this issue.  Daniels is somewhat mild mannered, so it's hard for me to see him being heavy handed with this, although I can see him pushing Purdue in the MOOC direction.

I suspect that working with faculty in shared governance might be a bit like working with a legislature run by the opposition party.  An adversarial college president's days are numbered, but Daniels doesn't seem of that ilk.  These last few years of course he's had a Republican legislature, but he did have some strong resistance at points from the minority Democrats. That is the kind of experience that does prepare a person to be a college president.

Purdue is an engineering school. That might fit with Daniels.  I think in these shifting educational times, having a sense of utilitarianism in knowledge is necessary.  Will this subject help students get a job?  Here is where it will be interesting to see how Daniels does.

Part of a good university is also an element of truth for its own sake, the love of knowledge.  The university that will do well in the future, by contrast, is the one that focuses on truth that will get you a job.  But hopefully they will never abandon the liberal arts entirely.  My knee-jerk suspicion is that Daniels probably wasn't a big friend of the arts or other life-enriching-but not-essential elements as governor (I could be wrong but he racked up a surplus while cutting education significantly).

If he can keep the liberal arts healthy while focusing on the utilitarian subjects that are already Purdue's specialties, he might just do well as its university President.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy your refreshing thoughts.

What really struck me was this:

"Part of a good university is also an element of truth for its own sake, the love of knowledge."


I think that is what people find most objectionable about his selection.

They feel "truth" is missing when a clear conflict of interest is what got him the job in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Will state enact a ‘Daniels Rule’?

Here is some interesting reading.