Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, is running Purdue University like he ran his state – with an eye to frugality and efficiency – and it’s drawing plaudits from the Chicago Tribune editorial board:
In 19 months as president of Purdue University, the former Indiana governor has frozen base tuition after 36 straight years of increases. The freeze lasts at least through the 2015-16 academic year.
Along the way, Daniels cut the cost of student dining services food by 10 percent. He’s saved big money by streamlining purchasing and finding other economies of scale. No saving is too small: He sold 10 school cars (about $10,000 each), cut rental storage in half ($160,000 saved) and repurposed used office furniture instead of buying new ($28,000 saved). …
Some officials at other universities say, sotto voce, that Daniels is a grandstander with an austerity agenda and a grave misunderstanding of their industry’s charming inefficiencies. We’d say he’s off to an encouraging start. Here’s hoping his cost-cutting lab at Purdue spurs — forces — other presidents to do the same.
The new round of appreciation for Daniels, a popular two-term governor who opted out of running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, comes courtesy of a Wall Street Journal profile of his time at Purdue. His biggest challenge may be administrative bloat:
Mr. Daniels cut millions from state higher education as governor, but millions more pay for the administrative salaries that have ballooned at Purdue, along with most universities around the country. At Purdue, there are now 75% more administrators and staff on the payroll than there were 13 years ago. …
Mr. Daniels says he is consolidating administrative jobs where prudent and leaving jobs unfilled where the duplication of effort makes that possible. He has jettisoned 10 university cars, consolidated hundreds of thousands of feet of off-campus rental storage and introduced a higher-deductible health-care plan.
He has also created two, half-million-dollar prizes for the first department that devises a three-year degree or a degree based on what a student already knows, not the number of hours he or she sits in a class. This summer, the school offered 200 more classes than last year in an effort to speed time to degree and generate more income for the school.
The Tribune also noted his building work:
He’s also invested in expanding Purdue’s engineering and computer science programs, among others. In a letter to the Purdue diaspora, he set this goal: “If we can maintain a campus-wide commitment to holding costs down, counting every $10,000 saved as a ‘student tuition equivalent,’ we can fulfill our duty to our students, taxpayers and everyone who chooses to invest in Purdue’s enterprise.”
Daniels also has a less typical challenge: deciding whether to sue 20th Century Fox for using “off-brand Purdue lettering” and making incomplete references to Purdue in the raunchy buddy comedy Let’s Be Cops, after the school turned down the studio’s request to use its trademarks and logos.
Read the full editorial here.