Daniels noted at the time that he’d expressed an opinion that Zinn’s book should not be taught in public schools, which he said doesn’t undermine his commitment to academic freedom at Purdue.
Daniels has been beset by other controversies, as well.
Earlier this year, he again upset critics when he declined to take an official stand as Purdue president on the debate over the proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriage – a proposal he supported as governor. The presidents of Indiana University, Wabash College, DePauw University and Butler University have all been vocal opponents.
And last month, after a tragic campus shooting that left a 21-year-old student dead and another student charged with murder, some faculty members criticized him for failing to push for more gun control laws as governor.
Daniels said he won’t let controversy distract from his mission of being “fully focused on Purdue.” In the aftermath of the shooting, he asked faculty and staff to weigh in on campus security measures.
“We’ve all got a lot to learn here,” he said. “I don’t know what the right answer is. We’ll try to find out.”
Meanwhile, he remains focused on the 10-point plan he crafted during his first year as president. The “Purdue Moves” plan calls for more private investment in research at a time of dwindling federal dollars. It pushes faculty to embrace technology in the classroom to catch up with tech-savvy students.
And it commits the university to a new accountability metric designed to measure Purdue’s impact on graduates’ careers and quality of life. That new metric is called the Gallup-Purdue Index. It’s the result of a partnership Daniels forged with the Gallup polling organization.
Through it, researchers will collect data over the next several years from thousands of college graduates from Purdue and elsewhere. Beyond measuring what alumni earn, it will ask graduates about their well-being and workplace engagement to see how a college education impacts later happiness in life.