The End of an Era: Mitch Daniels to Step Down from Purdue Presidency

Today we learned that Mitch Daniels, former governor of Indiana and current president of Purdue University will be stepping down from his post at the end of this year. This will end an almost decade-long tenure at the helm of that institution but will also mark the end of an era for his leadership in the greater realm of higher education. Daniels’ leadership brought unprecedented innovation to an institution, but also an industry that is notoriously static.

I had the pleasure of witnessing Daniels’ work up close as he launched the “Back a Boiler” program, an Income Share Agreement (ISA) program that helped Purdue students cover expenses left uncovered by federal and other forms of financial aid. At the time, ISAs were an untested model, living only in the dreams of market-minded wonks and academics. But Daniels, seeing the value in the idea, managed to launch the ISA industry into existence while creating the program that would serve students at Purdue. Thousands of students, across dozens of institutions, have now paid for college with the help of an ISA contract that likely would not have existed without Daniels’ efforts.

Having witnessed Daniels’ ability to will this idea into being shed light on how he managed many other impressive feats of innovation during his tenure as president of Purdue. The most remarkable of these includes keeping tuition flat for ten consecutive years—an almost unthinkable accomplishment in an industry known for rates of inflation exceeding that of any other segment of the economy.

Daniels’ career demonstrates a seemingly limitless professional and political potential. He surely would have made an important mark in whatever field he chose to pursue at the conclusion of his political career. I am grateful that he chose the field of higher education as an outlet for his many talents. Purdue and the industry of higher education are better for his service.

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The End of an Era: Mitch Daniels to Step Down from Purdue Presidency