- Courtesy of republicanconference via Flickr Creative Commons
by Timothy Cox
Hoosiers have taken to social networking to express excitement and concern about Purdue University after the Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to make Gov. Mitch Daniels the school's next president.
"I'm very surprised at Purdue's decision to hire Gov. Daniels, who has had a very negative, punitive approach to public education and teachers, to be the president of their university," said Pam Roberts, a Facebook user and former public school teacher from Greencastle.
Purdue's Facebook page has been flooded with comments about Daniels since news broke earlier this week that he was the trustee's pick. Others are posting about the decision on their personal pages or using Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube to express their views.
Opponents have focused much of their outrage on Daniels' decision two years ago to cut $300 million that lawmakers had earmarked to public education. The move was part of a larger budget cutting effort.
Others - Purdue graduates, faculty and sports fans - also lamented that he's privatized some state services and assets, leading to questions about his goals at Purdue.
Amy Price, who is celebrating eight years of teaching middle school students in Indianapolis, said she also fears for Purdue. She said that Purdue should worry about what Daniels might do, not just what he's already done.
"He wants to break the teacher unions in Indiana," she said. "Will he do that at Purdue? He also thinks that one test should determine the pay of teachers. Will he also try to base the pay of professors on the final only?"
The negative criticism is more extreme for Hoosiers closely connected to the school. A new Facebook group called "Purdue Community against Mitch Daniels for President of Purdue" consists of more than 250 students, parents, alumnus, and others who want Daniels' presidency to end as soon as it begins.
The group is currently discussing a public rally against the trustees' decision while some alumni say they have withdrawn monetary support to the university.
But Purdue trustees said Thursday they are not concerned the school will lose funding and some supporters say Daniels will actually be a fundraising powerhouse for the school.
Jillian Plomin, a Purdue grad who now lives in Manhattan, said on Facebook that the school will get more of her money once Daniels is president.
"Daniels at the helm would likely be a big boost to fundraising efforts at the university," said Plomin, who worked on the governor's first campaign and is now a political consultant.
"It's no surprise that half of Purdue's living alumni have President (Steven) Beering's name on their diplomas, and those older alumni are typically more conservative and would like to see someone with a more level head at the reigns - someone like President Emeritus Beering," she said. "Those alumni are likely where the bulk of fundraising dollars come in."
U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indianapolis, used YouTube to share a video he recorded in support of Purdue's decision.
"I have worked closely with Mitch for the past eight years, including six years in the statehouse when I served as Secretary of State," Rokita said. "Because of this, I know we will be in for a great ride."
Timothy Cox is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.