Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was unanimously elected Thursday morning to be Purdue University's next president.
Daniels, a Republican with extensive political and executive experience, will assume the position in January after he finishes his current term. He is the first sitting governor to be elected president of an Indiana university.
"No institution of any kind means more to Indiana today or tomorrow as Purdue University," Daniels said.
Daniels' new position has been a subject of much speculation in recent days. On Tuesday, the Star confirmed through several sources that Daniels was the top pick of the board of trustees.
Daniels said he could "conceive of no other assignment" that would let him contribute more to the state's future. He also said that he would recuse himself of any activities of partisan activity or political commentary. Last January, Daniels gave the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
"I will endeavor to honor Purdue," he said. "In the hope that I will always be able to wear black and gold with the pride I feel right now."
Daniels opened his first address as president-elect joking about his black-and-gold tie - Purdue's colors. "No, I did not buy this necktie last night," Daniels said.
Daniels succeeds France Cordova, an astrophysicist. Cordova announced her intention to leave the post last July. Provost Tim Sans will serve as interim president.
Daniels, 63, is two years shy of meeting the school's retirement policy for high-ranking executives. But trustees can have that requirement waived.
The voice vote came after three members of the board, including one representing students and one representing alumni, said they had heard nothing but praise for Daniels' selection.
"If I had to boil it down to one word, it's leadership," said board chairman Keith Krach. "And as a two-term governor with the most votes in Indiana history, he's proven that he knows how to effectively and successfully lead a large institution."
Michael Berghoff, the trustee that led the search committee, said the search "has been challenging," but it's over. Berghoff is the Indiana president of Lenex Steel Corporation and a 1985 graduate of Purdue. He is one of eight trustees currently on the board appointed by Daniels. One trustee, Don Thompson, was out of the country and not present.
Krach said the search committee left not "one stone unturned" when looking at candidates. The board said several hundred names were nominated from all areas - government, universities and business. Daniels was interviewed three times and answered a long list of questions, they said.
Krach said Daniels did not seek the office. "The office sought the man."
"His presidency will set us apart as an institution of higher learning," Krach said. "This will be absolutely invaluable. Perhaps even priceless."