Sources claim Purdue’s next President is Mitch Daniels

As a liberal Purdue alumna, this is terrible news:

Purdue University officials plan to vote on a candidate for the school’s next president this week – and WISH-TV has learned Gov. Mitch Daniels is the candidate in question.

The Purdue Board of Trustees will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in Steward Center’s Loeb Playhouse to vote on a nominee to be the school’s 12th president. Several sources close to the proceedings tells WISH-TV that the nominee is Daniels. After the vote, the president-elect will be introduced, the school said in a news release.

Daniels’ office had no comment Tuesday afternoon. However, sources with connections to both Purdue and the governor said it’s a done deal.

There’s a lot of reasons to be freaking out that this Republican Governor is about to become President of my alma mater. He defunded Planned Parenthood, hurt public education with conservative voucher programs, supported anti-union legislation, opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, and enacted voter ID laws that primarily negatively affected young, elderly, and minority voters…just to name a few things. But the thing that will enrage most of my blog readers is what he had to say about atheists in 2009:

People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

Everyone’s certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.

When I was at Purdue, I founded the Society of Non-Theists, a student organization for atheists, agnostics, and irreligious students on campus. I founded it because I felt like the only atheist on campus, and Purdue was not a welcoming place to me. Over the years as my old club has grown and grown, so many people have thanked me for providing a place where they can openly discuss their non-theism without fear or stigma. And now Mitch Daniels is slated to be President.

Let’s be honest. Purdue is one of the most socially backwards universities in the Big 10, if not the most socially backwards. We’re always dead last when is comes to having GLBT resources on campus, and the community is hostile to anyone who isn’t a white, conservative Christian. My only hope before was that the administration was very supportive, even if the students and greater community wasn’t. Now I’m not so sure.

During my time at Purdue, I was also a member of the President’s Leadership Class. 30 of the ~7,000 incoming freshmen were selected for PLC based on their academics and exemplary leadership abilities. We met in the living room of President Jischke’s house every Monday to discuss leadership, receive training, and make connections. They were fostering us to be the leaders of tomorrow.

The leaders of tomorrow don’t discriminate against atheists, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals.

If you’re a Purdue student or alumni, please email the Presidential Search Committee and and let them know why you don’t support Mitch Daniels as President of Purdue.


  1. Martha says

    What a shame. The only silver lining I see is that we’ll start getting more of the cooler science students in Indiana down here in Bloomington…

  2. Corvus illustris says

    Oh shucks–New Jersey is no longer #1 in statehouse-to-state university corruption.

  3. aspidoscelis says

    As an IU alumnus, this is entirely consistent with my assessment of Purdue.

    And, hey, at least he won’t be the governor!

  4. joviality says

    I am wondering two things:

    How many of the trustees did he appoint himself?

    How is he going to get around the age limit of 65 on administrators? He’s 63. And still governor. So won’t be president till he’s at least 64…

  5. edcates says

    Joviality: Daniels was first elected in ’04. Since 2005, when he would have been sworn in, 8 of the 10 current Trustees have been appointed. source

    Also: relevant

  6. joviality says

    Thanks! I’ve also heard from asking around campus that the board can waive the 65 drop off point, though I don’t have anything to back that up. All of this is just smelling of shady politics.

    So NOW I’m wondering… Okay, he gets the job. Why does he want it? He could easily go to private industry and start as a CEO or VP or something. What’s his motivation for becoming Purdue’s president? Why on earth is that something he’d want to do? I can’t wait for the student protesting to begin.

  7. dar says

    Most Indiana news are already reporting it’s a done deal. While I would like to think the more enlightened Purdue alum can cause a sh*tstorm so Big Business’ Bitch Mitch doesn’t get the post, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

  8. Kristi says

    Happy to be an IU alum at the moment, although it certainly has its fair share of problems, too. A lot of my friends are Purdue grads, and they’re furious right now.

  9. says

    I saw numerous tweets today claiming they had extended the retirement age for Jischke, but I haven’t verified that. Agreed that it doesn’t pass the smell test. What sane person would look at Daniels’s education and economic record and think he’d be a good college administrator?

    Then again, someone I was talking to today said they thought he would be good for continuing the dreadful march towards “” Thrilling.

    I’m not sure what would be in it for Mitch, aside from a high-paying gig and probably some more connections on his way to retirement age.

  10. edcates says

    There’s also the possibility that this is an attempt to “Koch-ify” yet another major university. I do believe I might become physically ill if that comes to pass.

  11. Corvus illustris says

    Oh goody, NJ is still #1 after all. Leasing the stadium is still food for editorial cartooning in IN, while in NJ the naming rights to Rutgers Stadium have already been leased away: it’s “High Point Solutions” stadium already since last year or so. Don’t think the actual stadium has been leased, but stay tuned …

  12. WBDirtDoc says

    Hey woah. Longtime reader, first time commenter. I have just finished a strongly worded letter, but somehow I am suddenly frightened. I’m not beginning my studies until this fall (Ph.D., my previous education being at UofM, a slightly more liberal university), any reason I should hold off?

  13. Corvus illustris says

    See if you can get some current grapevine information from current students in your prospective graduate program. It seems late in the year for you to make a radical change in your plans. Because of commitments to lab facilities, funding, etc., changes of administration don’t usually imply immediate big changes at the boots-on-the-ground level. As an ass’t prof. I lived through the chaos in the University of California system from 1963-70 (yes, I’m that old). The university was under attack by Reagan and the CA right wing, yet very few people left science and engineering departments in the short- or medium-run. Daniels seems highly unqualified to run a science-oriented operation; his plans may not involve a long stay in W. Lafayette.

  14. Aaron says

    Thanks for bringing this up. As an alum of Purdue I’m feeling rather disgusted right now. I sent an email to the BOT, but am not real optimistic.

  15. WBDirtDoc says

    Oh I have no intentions abandoning my studies. I meant is it safe to send the letter. Normally I’d feel perfectly safe, but with people discussing cronyism up above, who knows. Since I’m not yet a student and no money has actually been spent on me, my paranoia is that someone might get mad and, more importantly, act on that.

    Good news on his hopefully short stay.

  16. Corvus illustris says

    Remember I have no knowledge of what Daniels is up to, so the “short stay” is pure conjecture; he could be there just long enough to do some nontrivial damage. As to your letter, you might want to leave it in a metaphorical desk drawer for a couple of days. If Daniels appointed the board that is now to appoint him, then the fix is in and the letter will have no effect. The board meeting is set for tomorrow: see what happens.

  17. Corvus illustris says

    It’s not just atheists, freethinkers and Purdue. Republican politicians of his ilk (and the rest of the ilks are extinct) have been systematically inimical to public higher ed since the Nixon administration, if not earlier. Daniels will be in a position to poison the policies of a number of high-level associations of public universities; if he remains in office long, the damage he does will not be local. Among the ironies of his appointment is the fact that, since IIRC Purdue has no law school, he would almost certainly be unqualified for an entry-level faculty appoinment: the J.D. (= LL.B.) is usually a three-year degree requiring no original dissertation.

  18. timjohnson says

    Ugh. Even just reading the name Jischke was enough to get queasy (he wasn’t quite so beloved at Iowa State), but Daniels? Good luck with that, Purdue.

  19. says

    Haha, another ISU student from back in the day? I had the same reaction when I saw Jischke’s name. I couldn’t believe they named the new, butt-ugly honors building after him. He was an avid fundraiser, but not much of a president.

    But back on topic, Mitch Daniels sounds like a real peach. Do you think there’s any chance he’d respond to a debate challenge by the Purdue Non-Theists on the basis of his earlier statements? Even if he didn’t, putting his words on a pamphlet as a point-counterpoint might be a good way to make some publicity for the group.

  20. bruce says

    I wonder about that man’s knowledge of history. From a Brit perspective there’s the Lollards, the Elizabeth and Mary business, the Spanish Armada, and the Northern Ireland business*, starting, perhaps, with Cromwell and Dublin. Further away there’s the Spanish conquest of C & S America (Glory, God and Gold), the Russian pogroms*, and the post-independance killings in India*, Hindus against Moslems, and the breakup into Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

    *Only some are last century.

  21. lizdamnit says

    @bruce on 17 – maybe he figures his best bet wasn’t to let historical reality get in the way of scary buzzwords: “Hitler, Mao, Atheist, oogitaboogita!”

    “Everyone’s certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion.” Indeed.

  22. Georgia Sam says

    If nothing else, his ignorance disqualifies him from the post of university president or any other position in an institution of learning. Hitler was Roman Catholic, and Himmler declared publicly that no atheists were allowed in the SS.

  23. Corvus illustris says

    It’s surprising that, from your Brit perspective, you didn’t pick up on his reference to the Westminster Confession. Your average US Bible-thumper wouldn’t have had a clue about that. If this guy turns out to be a Calvinist version of Santorum or Tom Monaghan, we could be living in interesting times.

  24. Cory says

    Mr Daniels is the perfect candidate in my opinion. But then again, I’m a conservative. Why is EVERYTHING poolitics with you liberals?

  25. dar says

    And now Mitch is saying how college isn’t for everyone. Does he mean college is only for rich white males? (He certainly has done major damage to women in the state, and nothing at all for GLBT people And considering his priveleged position he probably doesn’t think racism is a problem.)

  26. littlejohn says

    I live in Indiana, and the local papers have been calling this a done deal for several days.
    Daniels hates public schools and teacher unions. He wants to privatize everything except the sidewalks, and who knows about them?
    Also, journalist friends who cover him tell me Daniels is a big fan of “The Bell Curve.”

  27. Corvus illustris says

    Thanks for disabusing me of the notion that Daniels was evil but smart nonetheless. If he didn’t pick up skepticism about popularized “statistical science” on the way to a BA from Princeton (home of the late John Tukey, shooter-down of the statistics in the first Kinsey report [apologies to IU people]), he may be un-educable.

  28. bruce says

    Sorry to let you down, C i, but I have no interest at all in the Westminster thingy.

  29. Don C says

    I hold out hope that many of Mitch’s past actions were to maintain a political base, and now that he is free of that, his truer self will emerge. He strikes me as someone for whom religion is not important…he stayed out of the culture wars…preferring to let legislatures do what they will without his fingerprints being on it. I also hold out hope that a university environment will teach him much about have a broader mind.

  30. Corvus illustris says

    Having followed Jen McC.’s links back to the Daniels interview, I have to disagree with this assessment. Politicians can get by with platitudes about Brotherhood of Man, Fatherhood of God (which used to have the delightful acronym BOMFOG). Daniels gets technical–and scary. Even a non-Presbyterian Calvinist might not refer to the Westminster Confession; Michael Novak’s “Christian charity” toward nonbelievers is more like Torquemada’s. On top of that we have Godwinning, with those fine Rheinisch and Austrian Catholics in the NSDAP being accused of atheism and Darwinism. Daniels is peddling something more than the usual snake oil.

  31. JM says

    Religion isn’t what the Republicans are really about. That’s just to draw in otherwise-99% types who think that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It is really about making the world safe for the extremely wealthy and their close friends and minions.

    So what he’ll do is attempt to cut things like women’s studies, any area harboring lefties and critical thinkers, and any science that isn’t immediately useful to business. This may be subtle, at least until he finds enough like-minded friends on the board and faculty.

    The liberal faculty will either leave on their own, or be nudged out.

    All along the way, unions will be challenged as never before and staff numbers and benefits will take a hit.

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