19 June 2012

Mitch as Purdue Pres? My Thoughts.

On Thursday, Purdue will announce who its next president is (source). Today, rumors began to fly by the media that Mitch Daniels (who other rumors had suggested was probably being considered) was leaked as the candidate (source). Mitch Daniels is the outgoing Republican governor of Indiana.

Regardless of who the next president is, but especially if this rumor turns out to be true, my advice is the following:

1) Don't Panic. It won't do any good to panic. Try to remain calm and rational. If you have to, take some time to sit on this before doing anything. I would suggest people not protest right off the bat - Purdue is not receptive and we may have to deal with this person as president. Stay calm. This will help the processing of my further advice. Use the reaction energy to try to stop something bad from happening if we are dealt the hand we think we might be.

2) Prepare to Justify Some Recent Advances. I'm going to target this response to the LGBTQ community at Purdue. I think the expansion of the nondiscrimination policy is likely safe if Mitch Daniels is president. He renewed the nondiscrimination policy considering state hiring that included sexual orientation and gender identity, and this leads me to believe it is safe. What I think we are going to have to be heavily prepared to justify is the Director of LGBTQ Affairs. I want to remind everybody that the LGBTQ community has more than earned everything it has at Purdue. We have to continue to earn our seat at the table. This position is so heavily needed that I think we can do this. I know it is unfair that we have to do this, but that doesn't mean it won't be the reality. We must be vigilant, and continue to ask for more.

3) Be Clear That We Expect Purdue to Continue Progressing. We can not accept moving backward, and that should be clear. The standards set, particularly in Spring 2012, should continue to hold for the university (with the hope that we demand more). We expect Purdue to continue to move forward regardless of who the president is. Purdue must move forward if it is to compete with its peers, to stay relevant, to complete its own mission, et cetera. Purdue is a land grant institution - a university for the people. We should be clear that We accept that we will have to earn everything that we get, but in return we expect to get everything we earn.

4) Deficiencies Can Be Dealt With If That Person Is Willing. Any candidate has deficiencies (of course some more than others). We will have to work with the hand we are dealt, but because of our history at Purdue we know we CAN work with the hand we are dealt. We should make it clear that we are worried about certain areas. Hopefully, whoever is president will deal with what they are good at, and leave the rest to people who are good at the rest. We have people at Purdue who are good at what they do. With support, and with recognition (whether openly or tacitly) that deficiencies exist in certain areas, those deficiencies can be overcome. We thus have to be open about the fact that we believe the deficiencies exist, and we have to demand that they are dealt with. My fear is that the president / board of trustees / university senate will not accept and/or recognize and/or demand the deficiencies to be covered. This will require activism. Activism we should not have to do, but activism that is the reality of the situation.

We should use the reaction energy to be productive, however. I think we can begin to address points three and four by an action suggested by Jennifer McCreight over at Blag Hag:
If you’re a Purdue student or alumni [or community member], please email the Presidential Search Committeeand trustees@purdue.edu and let them know why you don’t support Mitch Daniels as President of Purdue.
The situation may be a done deal, but if it is clear that people feel there are serious deficiencies, maybe one of the groups that has the power to try to address or blunt these deficiencies will (or at least move in the right direction so we have less ground to make up).

I'm going to avoid spending the time discussing how I would feel about the appointment of Mitch Daniels as president of Purdue because I don't know that it would do any good. I will thus just leave the advice above, and I can talk about that with people if asked to.

Also note, with this piece I am trying to deal with how we (and by we I really mean the Purdue community, which I will in some ways be a part of as an alumnus but in some ways will not be as I'm leaving) may have to deal with the reality, even with the very real and legitimate reasons why that reality is problematic and why we can and should be upset. I also know it is partially easy for me to say this stuff as I am leaving for the University of Minnesota in August.

1 comment:

  1. Sound advice. Yet I cannot deny an almost overwhelming desire to crumble into a whining, pouting, fist-pounding-on-the-floor ball of tantrum. But "no!" and "why?" will do nothing to help us. We must, as always, help ourselves.

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