Purdue’s Outsider

Kevin Kiley:

A conservative Republican governor walks into a university president’s office.
It sounds like the start of a bad joke (or, in certain parts of the country these days, an academic’s nightmare), but it’s a daily occurrence here, where Mitch Daniels recently assumed leadership of Purdue University after a high-profile eight-year run as Indiana’s governor.
Daniels might seem an odd choice for Purdue, a public land-grant university with an emphasis on science and engineering. The institution has historically been led by accomplished researchers and academic administrators, and most of Daniels’s predecessors held advanced academic degrees in science, medicine, math or engineering.
Daniels, who attended Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs as an undergraduate and received a law degree from Georgetown University, is not a scientist or engineer, nor does he have significant academic experience. His C.V. includes no peer-reviewed papers, no courses taught and no previous academic administrative experience. His career spans a range of government and private-sector administrative jobs, and his fame in the political world comes predominantly from the budget-cutting, small-government attitude with which he approached these various positions.