Mitch Daniels is the president of Purdue University. Before his current job, he had many others. He was governor of Indiana, for instance. And White House budget director. Before those two jobs, he was chief political adviser to President Reagan. In his office at Purdue, Daniels talks with Jay about higher ed, the federal government, and more. At the end, Jay pumps Daniels for a Reagan story or two – and Daniels comes through with flying colors.

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  1. Pony Convertible Inactive
    Pony Convertible

    In hopes that Mitch will read the comments I submit this open letter to Mitch Daniels.

    Dear Mr. Daniels,

    I am an alumnus of Purdue, as is; my wife, my father, my brother, my sister, and three sons.  Purdue is largely responsible for the prosperity of my family.  We are all much better people because of what we learned there.  I am grateful for Purdue University.

    I am also grateful for many of the things you have done at Purdue.  Strengthening the regional campus’s, and holding down tuition cost, are great things.  I applaud your efforts to increase access to online courses.

    Purdue is a state school.  It exists primarily to serve the people of Indiana.  As you stated in the podcast, Purdue has historically served students who, “came from very modest circumstances. The kid off the farm, small town, or intercity.”  My father is a typical example of this.  He was a kid who took mostly vocational classes in high school, then after being honorably discharged from Army and starting a family, he decided to attend Purdue.  He graduated as an Electrical Engineer.

    Although I did take more math and science classes in high school than my father, I wasn’t really focused and my grades were not great, mostly B’s and C’s.  Few A’s.  Still, I was accepted and graduated as a Mechanical Engineer. I have my PE license and am one of only 3 Principal engineers in an Indiana startup company that now employs over 10,000 people.

    You have worked to make Purdue recognized as one of the top engineering schools of the world.  This is a great, but it comes with a cost.  It has increased demand, and raised the bar for admission too high for many Indiana kids who would have qualified for admission 10 or 15 years ago. I don’t think any of my family would have qualified for admission under today’s standards.  I know many of my coworker kids have applied to Purdue and been rejected even though they have really good high school grades and very solid SAT scores.

    I am not proposing that Purdue lower its standards for graduation.  The thing that makes a degree from Purdue so valuable is the fact that having it means you have worked very hard and cleared some very high bars.  

    I want Purdue to give Indiana kids priority.  Every Indiana kid who has done well enough in high school that you know they have a realistic chance of graduating should be given that chance.  If there are spaces remaining for students outside of Indiana, then let them in, but only after qualified Indiana kids have been admitted.  Stop recruiting the best students from all over the world, and start admitting  not only Indiana’s best, and but also the 2nd best.  Give kids off the Indiana farms, from small town Indiana, or from intercity Indianapolis a chance.  For too many you have taken that opportunity away.


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