Congratulations, Mitch, Even if This Does Break My Heart
Yesterday, as you know, the trustees of Purdue named Ricochet's own Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, the new president of the university, a post he will take up when his term as governor expires at the end of this year.
From an email that Mitch sent to friends early yesterday morning, breaking the news in a few compact paragraphs that display both dignity and intelligence:
I will have to earn the honor of this appointment through strenuous work to build the understanding, alliances and personal relationships, especially with faculty, required for a successful presidency. I likewise look forward to as much direct engagement with Purdue students as they are willing to have with me.
Off campus, I hope to become an audible and credible voice for the critical role of higher education in the nation's future, and an effective advocate of Purdue to those who might support its growth in quality and reputation.
I am troubled but persuaded by the many who assert that American higher education is now challenged to modernize its traditional practices and to reconfirm its value to students and society. Perhaps Purdue, a premier community of problem-solvers, can lead in this transition and the innovations that will shape it.
The balance of this calendar year, I will use the time not consumed by my current duties to begin this process of earning by learning. Effective immediately, I will recuse myself from any partisan political activities or commentary.
Mitch Daniels, one of the finest political minds I've known since we became friends back in the Reagan White House, to remove himself, permanently, and immediately, from politics. When I read that, I felt what my parents must have felt when Frank Sinatra announced he was giving up singing--I felt what they felt, or something worse. Bored with retirement, Sinatra was performing again in a matter of months. Mitch? He does what he says he's going to do. He's done with politics for good.
But I can choke back my disappointment long enough to offer an old friend heartfelt congratulations. And I can't wait for the stream of innovations that Purdue is certain to produce under Mitch's leadership. Come to think of it, maybe this won't be so bad. If Mitch does half as much for higher education as he has done for state government--well, just think of it.