During Thursday’s Q & A session with the media, Gov. Mitch Daniels declined to respond when asked about the ethics of being approved by trustees he has previously appointed.
The 30 minutes for media questions started around 12:15 p.m., following the completion of the presidential announcement at Loeb Playhouse. The sixth question addressed a concern many are saying should forfeit the Board of Trustees’ vote to approve Daniels:
“Do you see,” a WLFI reporter asked, “or how would you address, the perception of some people that there may be a conflict because of the number of trustees that you appointed?”
Since elected as Indiana’s governor in 2005, Daniels has either appointed or re-appointed 100 percent of Purdue’s trustees – appointing eight himself and reappointing two others. This includes Tuesday’s reappointment of three Board members which extended a three-year term to the search committee chair, Michael Berghoff; though the decision of Daniels as president had already been made by then.
After a four-second pause, Daniels deflected the question.
“Well I’ll just leave that to the University. I don’t know what – “
Then, Purdue’s assistant vice president of external relations, Chris Sigurdson, stepped in by saying, “Let’s take that question to the Chair of the Board of Trustees.”
Chairman Keith Krach finished Daniels’ answer.
“First of all, as you have seen today, the search committee under (Berghoff’s) leadership, conducted an absolutely flawless process,” Krach said. “That search committee was a diverse committee, a diagonal slice of the University, comprised of different temperaments, talents and convictions. The governor had nothing to do with the search committee at all.”
Krach said the Board sees no conflict of interest.
“From the Trustee perspective we discussed that and we believe there is no conflict whatsoever,” Krach said. “We even went to the aspect of talking with our (legal) counsel, and they advised there is no conflict.”
Hundreds of comments via social media, as well as a petition against Daniel’s appointment citing conflict of interest, made it clear some remain unsatisfied.
By Thursday night at 11:30 p.m., 534 people had signed a petition on Change.org to “Eliminate Governor Mitch Daniels from Consideration for Purdue President.” The petition began on Monday. Of the three reasons for the petition, two of them focus on Daniels prior connections to the Board of Trustees.
The petition can be viewed at https://www.change.org/petitions/purdue-university-trustees-eliminate-governor-mitch-daniels-from-consideration-for-purdue-president?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition
During a call to the office of the Indiana Commissioner of Higher Education, The Exponent was told that the commissioner’s opinion on the issue was reflected in her press release. In it, Commissioner Teresa Lubbers whole-heartedly praised Purdue’s trustees for selecting a leader with a “range of public and private experiences that will serve him and Purdue very well.”