Now that Purdue’s board has officially chosen Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels as president of the university, the question is whether the faculty will be open minded about Republican leadership.
In an open letter, former faculty senate chair Morris Levy disagreed with the selection of Daniels because he was not experienced in academic administration, supposedly the chief criteria for the selection committee. However, Levy also noted that Daniels’ first speech adequately addressed many qualms:
In today’s orchestrated ceremonies the highlight of the day was the speech by President-Elect Daniels. Where the Board could not find anything but lofty praise and hyperbole, he was direct and honest about his own weaknesses. He admitted that he needs and wants to learn how the academy works and how he can best facilitate its missions. Very importantly, he said he would recuse himself from further partisan political activity. In a private discussion later with University Senate leaders, we commended him especially for this remark and for recognizing such action was appropriate and necessary for his service as Purdue President. He thought this was a no-brainer! Very impressive, not everyone has that kind of moral compass. He later said that faculty skepticism about his leadership abilities for Purdue were both expected and warranted for someone like himself, an outsider to the academy. In our opinion, he said all of the right things to engender confidence in his dedication to his new job.
Can a Republican politician survive as the head of a liberal public university? We shall see.