Mitch Daniels Breaks Promise to Purdue

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(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

To be honest, I never cared much for Mitch Daniels since he balanced the budget in Indiana off the backs of the poor, children, government workers and privatizing the government. But recently, after reading his emails on Howard Zinn, I’ve spent some time researching our former governor, now President at Purdue University, Indiana’s second largest publicly operated college.

There is a pattern of behavior repeating itself.  Based on his past actions, one could certainly call him a heartless bastard (I’ve heard that descriptor used many time in social services), but there are some other conclusions one could draw. We’ll go into this  further with a future article we’re working on at the Voice.

While studying organization leadership, I learned about different leadership styles, but what struck me the most, always at the heart of a true leader is a strong moral compass – a level of spiritual maturity – connectedness to something greater than themselves which guides them in their decision-making. It is that extra part that draws people to want to follow them.

People will look at CEO’s or governors and exclaim, “Now there is a great leader.” Society reveals that place and character don’t necessarily go hand in hand. What they have is positional authority, or power that goes with the position.

We’ve presented some of Daniel’s issues with his attacks on academic freedom and censorship while governor, his ethical violations on appointing 80% of the board at Purdue, who in turn, hired him against their ethical guidelines. All these men completely ignored their moral compass when making major decisions that have an impact on others. Is it possible to trust them?

When Professor Detmer literally sliced and diced Mitch during his lecture on objective truth-seeking, it occurred to me that Mitch isn’t all that smart either. As Detmer pointed out, “We wouldn’t let our freshman students make such poor arguments.” Mitch’s attempt to justify his behavior was something you’d expect to see from a teenager.

To highlight his poor decision-making a step further, while many faculty at Purdue are still upset with him, what does he do? Mitch takes Purdue’s corporate jet to Minneapolis on Monday to speak at a conference for the Center of the American Experiment (CAE) to discuss his conservative hard-line values he used during his eight years as Indiana governor.

The group promotes itself as backing right-to-work legislation, lower taxes and doing “nothing less than shifting Minnesota’s intellectual and political center of gravity to the right”, so they weren’t interested in his scholarly achievements, they wanted him to share his political strategy for shifting Indiana’s mindset to the hard right.

Purdue faculty members questioned Daniels giving the Minnesota speech for which he received a $10,000 fee. He told them repeatedly he would avoid partisan activities after accepting the Purdue presidency.

Of course the staff he brought from the governor’s mansion to the president’s office knows how to rationalize Mitch’s decisions – they’ve done for many years now.

And just like with the $58,000 bonus, and emails proving censorship, now the board of trustees chairman gets to play along, “I just feel very confident that he is not going to take some unusual or unique position other than the conservative positions he’s had in the past,” Spurgeon said. However, Tom didn’t listen to the speech and didn’t know about the $10,000 speaking fee.

“I owe it to (the university) and every member of the community to be strictly nonpartisan, as the school is,” Daniels said in June 2012 after he was named president of Purdue.

I guess $10,000 would make you deviate from that pledge – better yet, he took Purdue’s private jet to make the speech! Oh, I imagine Mitch will donate it for student scholarship, and make everyone happy at Purdue.

Again, Mr. Spurgeon in excuse making mode, “His schedule is so full that it’s not practical for him to have all kinds of transportation problems in getting to some place and returning,” Spurgeon said. “Typically, he will do something and he is right back on the job in representing his activities as Purdue president.”

Using a taxpayer-funded corporate jet for a personal speaking engagement shouldn’t be proper – just say it, Tom.

According to the Journal Gazette, “(Daniels) said clearly when he took the job he would stay out of partisan politics,” said Bill Mullen, a professor of English and American studies. “There’s no reason the president of Purdue should be out giving public talks on lowering taxes in other states. President Daniels is still acting like a conservative Republican governor, just doing so from the platform of the presidency of Purdue.”

Apologies, money, and more excuse making will be witnessed in the next couple of days from our neighborhood to the Northwest, but patterns repeat, over and over again.


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About Author

Journalist, entrepreneur, publisher, DSA member, and ethical leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy cycling, yoga, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter. Wellness advocate who practices servant style leadership.

3 Comments

  1. We can only hope this article wakes up a few that haven’t had the time to realize what is happening in the ‘leadership’ area at Purdue.

  2. There isn’t an agency that can sanction him for misbehavior. Institutional checks and balances for his position aren’t in place.