Purdue University has named Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels as the university’s 12th president. Daniels will succeed France A. Córdova, who is scheduled to step down July 15, at the conclusion of his second term as governor in January. Timothy D. Sands, Purdue’s provost, will serve as interim president until Daniels’ term expires.
While it is not uncommon for politicians to transition to academia, Daniels is high profile in Republican political circles—he delivered the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address this year and was rumored to be considering a presidential campaign—making his appointment particularly noteworthy.
Despite Daniels’ notoriety, the announcement of his appointment by the Purdue board of trustees—a board appointed by Daniels—has drawn criticism from former and current Purdue students. Part of the criticism stems from the $150 million in cuts Daniels made to higher education funding, including $30 million to Purdue alone. The cuts were required because Indiana, like much of the nation, experienced lower than expected tax revenue in 2008 and 2009.
Additionally, Daniels’ signature on a bill limiting the number of credit hours Indiana universities can require for bachelor’s degree concerns some of Purdue’s faculty. The bill, which was passed in March and takes effect July 1, caps the number of credits needed for a bachelor’s degree at 120.
Prior to the passage of the bill the Indiana Commission for Higher Education stated that 90% of the bachelor’s degree programs in the state required more than 120 hours, with some more specialized degrees—like a bachelor’s in special education—requiring up to 140 hours. Purdue required between 124 and 130 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree.
Despite the cost saving implications for students; many faculty and administrators throughout Indiana find the new law an intrusion into the freedom universities traditionally enjoyed to determine the amount of classes necessary to complete a degree.
Lobbying efforts from Indiana’s higher education institutions won a concession in the bill that allows schools to breach the 120 credit hour limit for programs that require extra credits for national accreditation.
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