Daniels won support for the index from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated to increasing college completion. Lumina president Jamie Merisotis said the Index reflects Daniels’ willingness – not always welcomed by his peers – to upset the higher education apple cart.
“He dove into his new job without hesitation,” Merisotis said, of Daniels’ willingness to acknowledge that universities are under increasing pressure to deliver much more for their students. “He’s really grappling (with changes in higher education) in the best possible way.”
In an open letter to the Purdue community explaining his priorities, Daniels warned that the university cannot rest on its laurels: “(H)istory is littered with extinct institutions, businesses, or entire industries that dallied in arrogant denial as the bases of their past success were undermined and washed away.”
The identity of “Governor Daniels” is also fast fading to the increased presence of “Purdue Mitch” on Twitter. His friendly, Purdue-centric tweets boost the Boilermakers and feature photos of him regularly dining with students in their residence halls. They’ve attracted than than 10,500 Twitter followers.
As for getting called “governor”: “It doesn’t happen much anymore,” he said. “I think people see me working on Purdue and on higher education. Whatever memory they may have of me as governor is fading away.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden