Monthly Conversation With Mitch Daniels

Jae Lee / WBAA News

Mitch Daniels came into the Purdue presidency vowing to stay away from politics as he pursued a job in academic administration.

But when you’re arguably the most popular Republican in a red state, and when conservative columnists regularly call for your return to partisan life, it can be hard to stick to such proclamations.

Jae Lee / WBAA News

Think of Purdue University for a second like a giant pot of money. Yes, yes, some people already do. But bear with us.

Hypothetically, if the nation sees price inflation of any kind, the consumer price index goes up – and it has the last several years.

Now, if that giant pot of money isn’t being added to with even small tuition increases to keep up with inflation, is there more or less money in the pot to give to employees in the form of raises?

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On the campus of a Research One university, there’s a lot of scientific debate.

But recently, Purdue’s president – who’s not a scientist – took a stand against what he calls one of the most alarming pieces of pseudo-science affecting Americans today – genetically modified food.

On this month’s conversation with Mitch Daniels, we ask why he’s so riled up about it and whether, when the rich head of a company that makes GMOs sits on your Board of Trustees, there’s a conflict of interest that should prevent such statements.

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The issue of free speech on a college campus has already been tested at Purdue in 2016.

From anti-abortion protestors using fiery rhetoric in an effort to rile up passersby to a University employee posting threats of rape on social media, the newly-adopted “Chicago principles” of free speech have been tested almost to their limits.

On this month’s conversation with Purdue President Mitch Daniels, we ask if the school put itself in a tough spot by advocating for expanded freedom of expression.

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Puzzled.

That’s the word Purdue officials have chosen for their reaction to a call from West Lafayette city leaders who wanted more transparency in the process of deciding which firms would spend as much as $120 million to overhaul State Street.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels says a little secrecy is the price of doing business, and says Purdue doesn’t have to help.

But city leaders admit they need the school to front the money or the job will never get started.

That’s just one of the topics on this edition of WBAA’s Monthly Conversation With Mitch Daniels.

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Many of us have been stopped for speeding by a police officer. It’s uncomfortable and it’s tough to know what to say or do.

But when you’re a public figure like Mitch Daniels, there’s an added layer of scrutiny.

Purdue’s President was reminded of that in the wake of a traffic stop on campus last month, and then reminded again when editorials suggested he should have asked for a ticket, rather than the warning he was given. On this edition of WBAA’s Monthly Conversation With Mitch Daniels, we’ll talk about that stop.

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Purdue University President Mitch Daniels has been pondering a number of racially-charged issues in the last month.

He’s of Syrian heritage and has watched as his state has tried to deny refugees fleeing civil war from coming to Indiana.

And his campus was the site of a protest similar to one at the University of Missouri decrying racial disparities at Purdue.

Those are just two topics we cover on November’s Monthly Conversation With Mitch Daniels.

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How’d you like to be so popular with your bosses that they offer to extend your contract by two years and then offer you a million dollars just to keep your job till the end of your contract?

That’s what the Purdue Trustees recently did with President Mitch Daniels. We chat about his new pay structure on this month’s conversation with him.

We also have a conversation about the University’s promotion and tenure policy.

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There’s a storm brewing between Purdue’s faculty and its Board of Trustees over the issue of tenure.

When last year’s Gallup-Purdue Index showed Purdue faculty have historically been poor at mentoring students, Trustees insisted a metric measuring faculty-student engagement be included in the tenure decision-making process.

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Mitch Daniels has tried to make his time as Purdue President about student affordability – so this month in our regular conversation with him, we ask about the plans from three people who’d also like to be president – of the United States.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the former Republican governor doesn’t have rave reviews for education savings plans from the top three contenders for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

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