by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Richard Vedder explains in a Martin Center column why he believes Purdue’s president is the right man for the job.
[T]he single most exemplary leader of American higher education today in my judgment is Mitch Daniels at Purdue University. When he leaves Purdue’s presidency, tentatively planned for 2020 at age 71, the tuition level will be the same as it was when he took office at the beginning of 2013—over seven years earlier. Correcting for inflation, published tuition fees probably will have fallen a good 10 percent during the Daniels presidency. Since incomes are rising (albeit perhaps too slowly), the burden of becoming a Purdue Boilermaker has been steadily declining—in marked contrast to earlier in history.
I once estimated that it took a larger proportion of Indiana’s per capita income to pay Purdue’s tuition in 2012 than 73 years earlier in 1939, late in the Great Depression. Moreover, the tuition freeze does not consider an absolute dollar decline in room and board charges of attending Purdue. This is truly a remarkable achievement.
But there is much more. Let me mention just three other innovative things that have happened.
First, Purdue is the first school that I know of that is literally investing in its own students through innovative Income Share Agreements (ISAs). …
… Second, President Daniels realizes that as a land-grant institution, a big part of Purdue’s mission supposedly is to democratize higher education, which probably means serving large numbers of a citizenry who lack the means of buying an expensive residential education. Like most schools, Purdue is not an expert on running successful large-scale online programs. The solution? Purdue has bought Kaplan higher education (now Purdue University Global), one of the larger or more respected for-profit operators. …
… Third, in what I first thought to be a frivolous and unfortunate diversion, Purdue has gone into the beer business.
Actually, it makes some sense.