Prior to President Mitch Daniels' appointment as University president, a search committee compiled a list of criteria a Purdue president must fulfill to dutifully carry out the position. In honor of Daniels' first six-months as president, The Exponent has reviewed this list and looked at how well Daniels has performed thus far. Below find Daniels' "grade":
- "Put the excellence of Purdue first in regards to education, research, betterment of the University and advocating the success of students, faculty and staff."
* Daniels has sought to improve the University in every manner possible, from being accessible to students, faculty, staff and the community to meeting with fellow institutions and companies to foster better relationships and partnerships. He has done this through various dinners and President's forums. He has also mentioned excellence as a major component of his "Open Letter to Purdue," as an important area he plans to focus on.
- "Improve the academic reputation through student success."
* Though he has yet to prove himself in this area, Daniels has said he strives to better the University, specifically regarding undergraduate education. Daniels has promulgated former University president France A. Córdova's plan to switch the University from a semester system to a trimester system within at least the next 10 years, but he is seeking to reach that goal in five. This plan has been further complimented by creating a stronger summer program.
In a University Senate meeting in January, Daniels commented on trimester system debate. “I want the whole notion of the trimester (to) be an effective use of the summer months with two objectives: one, student success and second, use of the capacity of students’ needs,” Daniels said. “I want to provide greater opportunity for students’ success and vigorous use of the summer months.”
- "Work with the Board of Trustees to improve and develop policies, through collaboration and discussion."
* As governor of Indiana, Daniels appointed eight of the 10 trustees on the Board, which would improve the working relationship between himself and the Board. He has worked well with the Board regarding a variety of issues such as the approval of football coach Darrell Hazell and the student tuition freeze. The president is also a part of an undergoing review of the policies for both the West Lafayette and regional campuses in order to consolidate and reevaluate standing policies that govern all universities.
- "To provide "leadership, mentorship, and direction" to a management team of a variety of administrators."
* By reducing the number of administrators and the consequential restructuring of departments, working with the management team is on its way to improving. With fewer team members, decisions are able to be efficiently made and carried out.
- "To protect and improve the financial security of the University though good management, addition of resources and maximizing benefits to serve in the now and in the future."
* The financial integrity of the University has not proven to be a large issue with Purdue, already in possession of a hefty endowment upwards of a billion dollars and steady influx of students over the last few years. However, Daniels does look to bring in more money to the University through a variety of partnerships.
- "To fundraise on the behalf of Purdue as well as lobby, seek grants, gifts and receive donations from both individuals and corporations."
* There has already been evidence of Daniels' ability to acquire grants, such as a grant to the School of Communication and an unprecedented grant to the College of Agriculture. He has also made it a point to interact with certain audiences that can bring in large amounts of money to Purdue.
- "Collaborate with the community to better the relationship with the University and the area to benefit Purdue as well as the local communities."
* Within the community and multitude of students and student organizations, Daniels has made himself very readily available. However, that being said, these events are usually scheduled appearances (i.e. going to a community picnic or fulfilling requests to visit members of the Greek system). These seem more like a contrite way to meet this particular job criterion, versus actually being times of open discussion or forums for students' random and general concerns, opinions and suggestions.
- "Improve the diversity of the student body, faculty and staff."
* We can't very well ascertain Daniels' work, if any, in this area. There have yet to be any new policies or developments that encourage or boost diversity among the student body, faculty, or staff. However, in the light of recent events on campus regarding race, he has dealt with incidents and prejudices well, in efforts to solidify Purdue's tolerance of diversity.
- "Represent Purdue to a variety of entities and audiences."
* His trips to China are an example of Daniels extending Purdue's reach beyond the immediate community. His connections from his stint as Indiana's governor have also provided him with chances to propel Purdue's name, though we don't know the particulars of him immediately acting on these opportunities.
Overall, we have considered all the criteria the presidential search committee deemed necessary in Purdue's president and have given the president a B-.