Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels appointment as the next president of Purdue University continues to create controversy throughout the university’s community. Much of the backlash stems from Daniels’ appointment of eight of the 10 members of Purdue’s Board of Trustees, the body that selected him.
While there are rumors that Daniels’ appointment of the trustees and, in turn, their selection of him was part of a quid pro quo that exchanged campaign contributions for a position on the Board, Daniels’ campaign finance reports show no donations from any current serving trustee, their spouses or commercial interests.
The lack of campaign contributions has not stopped commenters and students from calling Daniels’ appointment a violation of the post-employment restrictions in the State of Indiana’sethics code. The ethics code prevents former state officers from accepting employment offers from entities they regulated or licensed for one year after leaving office.
As governor, Daniels not only appointed Purdue’s board, but he also determined how much funding the university would receive from the state. In 2009, Daniels cut 6% from Indiana’s higher education budget, and in 2011 he cut $30 million from Purdue’s budget.
Daniels’ track record of cutting education led to the cancelation of at least one major gift that had been pledged to the university. Marilyn Haring, former dean of Purdue’s College of Education, sent an e-mail to the Board of Trustees on June 28, stating that she would be withdrawing her planned donation of $1 million.
Daniels’ socially conservative stances, which sparked interest in him as a possible GOP presidential candidate, have also created tension with Purdue’s academic community. In a recent guest column in the Lafayette Journal Courier, of Lafayette, Ind., two Purdue professors outlined five of Daniels’ positions that they say are out of sync with the mission and culture of the university.
Among those listed were, Daniels’ skepticism about science and the scientific method and his rejection of affirmative action in the college admissions process. There is additional concern about the compensation package Daniels will receive as the university’s president.
While specific salary details have to yet be made public, a memorandum of understanding between Purdue and Daniels stipulates that Daniels will receive a base salary that is “consistent with salaries paid to presidents at peer institutions.” France Cordova, Purdue’s outgoing president, received $465,000 base pay last year. Daniels’ annual salary as governor was $95,000, other compensation—such as retirement benefits—brought his total pay up to nearly $108,000.
In addition to base salary, Purdue will pay Daniels “an incentive based salary” if the university meets “specific, measurable objectives.” The objectives that determine Daniels’ incentive pay are currently undefined.
The memorandum also states that Purdue will furnish Daniels with an automobile and driver as well as the university’s official residence—known as “Westwood”—and the staff and resources to support the house as “a university-related entertainment center.” The house, car, and driver will be provided to Daniels free of charge and the university will pay for any moving expenses for Daniels’ relocation.
After the details of Daniels compensation package became public, students and faculty began organizing to express their outrage. Currently, a petition on social action website Change.org asking Purdue’s Board of Trustees to “eliminate Governor Mitch Daniels from consideration” has nearly 870 signatures and over 280 people have joined a Facebook event to protest Daniels’ selection.
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