Thursday, June 21, 2012

Purdue University Makes Right Move by Making Governor Daniels the Next President

When I came out of law school in 1987, before even sitting for the bar, I sent my resume in to IUPUI to teach political science.  My undergraduate degree from Ball State is political science and I had interned in the Indiana State Senate as well as been involved in local politics.  Fortunately, my resume hit IUPUI at the right time, i.e. when they needed someone to fill a vacancy for an adjunct instructor.  I got the job and over the next several years, I every semester taught one of the two introductory level courses, American National Government or Introduction to Political Science.  I also had the chance to teach a couple advanced class I designed, Media and Politics and Campaign Organizations, i.e. how to run a campaign, including basic strategy.
Governor Mitch Daniels
Later I went on to the University of Indianapolis teaching State and Local Government and American National Government.  This summer I'm teaching the latter.  With the exceptions of a handful of semesters, I have taught consistently at the college level since 1987.

During that quarter century the price of tuition and expenses such as for books has soared, far above the rate of inflation. Meanwhile college campuses have modernized considerably, building often opulent facilities for their students. 

When people talk about the enormous cost of higher education, the focus is always on how to  make more money available to students, either through grants or loans.  No one ever challenges the spending by colleges and universities, demanding that they hold the line on costs or educate students for less.

I have at times complained about Governor Mitch Daniels' failure to exercise strong oversight over state agency officials and the decision to ignore whistleblowers who have pointed out problems at the agencies.   It is frustrating  to me that Governor Daniels otherwise excellent tenure is marred by scandals and mismanagement that were entirely avoidable.  But where Governor Daniels has excelled is on budgetary matters, characterized chiefly by a steadfast demand that state government hold the line on costs.  He was even willing to touch the third rail of Indiana politics - K-12 education - which for years have had their budgets increased far above the inflation rate.

I don't buy for a second that Governor Daniels hailing from a non-academic environment is a bad thing. There is a reason the term "ivory tower" is part of our lexicon and most often applies to colleges and universities.  Too often administrators and faculty at those institutions are oblivious to the practicalities of living in the real world inhabited by their students.  It is about time we had a university president who demanded that the school hold the line on spending and offer a more affordable education product for its students.    Governor Daniels' insistence on controlling costs at Purdue, as he has as Governor, has the opportunity to revolutionize higher education in Indiana.


Diana Vice said...

My viewpoints and sentiments exactly! Good analysis, Paul.

Society of Socrates said...

I grant that you cost of Higher Education has for students has been excessive. But where was Daniels in this debate. Silent. The GA has given in too often to the capital funds for higher ed. Now the "blade" goes to college. He will fail. How will we measure that failure? He will be a great fundraiser. But he will fail because the on tenure issue. Those professors will not roll over like state employees. He, I half suspect, is using Purdue as a stepping stone to something higher. Don't forget he put a million dollars of his own money in Aiming Higher when it had no funds. He is a man-in-a-suit. Even at Lilly's when he was VP; it was in governmental affairs. Let's face it Paul you like Mitchie. He has like so many other Republican GovernorS has hurt public education. He is the heir of Goldsmith on privatization. Lov ya. Groucho

Pete Boggs said...

This is good for the prospect of education. Coupled with today's SCOTUS 1st Amend ruling, clock riding professors may find themselves getting schooled.

I know said...

"I have at times complained about Governor Mitch Daniels' failure to exercise strong oversight over state agency officials and the decision to ignore whistleblowers who have pointed out problems at the agencies. It is frustrating to me that Governor Daniels otherwise excellent tenure is marred by scandals and mismanagement that were entirely avoidable."


Durham got the word from the people. When does the system let the other avoidable crimes get prosecuted? The legal and law enforcement communities certainly know about them

Ellen said...

Oh, great. Now Daniels can start selling off Purdue's assets!

Considering how well that's worked out for the Toll Road, I shudder.

What else will he do? Ban genetic research in the ag department?

Politics and education are a bad, bad mix.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Ellen, we've given higher education administrators a green light to raise tuition and costs ever year with zero accountability for containing the cost of higher education. Now there is someone who is going to hold them accountable. I can't help but think that will be a good thing.

Susan McKee said...

Look at what's happening right now at the University of Virginia, where a corporate takeover of the university is underway:

"There is this sort of shift in the zeitgeist," says Tal Brewer, chair of UVA's Philosophy Department. Brewer sees a new, heightened cultural "adoration of the business mind as capable of bringing clarity, organization and efficiency to any kind of institution...I just think that's a deep mistake."

"In an era in which the best and the brightest financiers laid the groundwork for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the Supreme Court allowed corporate sponsors and wealthy donors to upend the political system with unlimited campaign contributions, Brewer says he sees the upheaval in Charlottesville as more of the same."
Read more here:

Indy Rob said...

While I agree that ever increasing tuition costs are a problem, I disagree with the idea that Mitch Daniels will bring Purdue's tuition under control.

If you would want to revisit this issue in say summer, 2015 when Purdue announces the tuition cost for the 2015 to 2016 academic year, I would really pay attention. My prediction is that Purdue's tuition will have increased by approximately as much as IU's.

It does not matter to me if Mitch brings Purdue's spending under control, if nothing is done to control Purdue's tuition.

If you could suggest some other way of measuring Mitch Daniels' success or failure, it would be useful.