Gov. Mitch Daniels has been named the next president of Purdue University, a role he'll take on after leaving office in January.
Purdue trustees voted unanimously Thursday morning to appoint Daniels to succeed France Cordova, who will leave in July after five years at Purdue's helm. Tim Sands, the university provost, will serve as interim president.
Trustee Michael Berghoff, the leader of the presidential search team, told the crowd that the committee sought out Daniels as a candidate, because when the university put out the word it was looking for a new president, nominations poured in and Daniels was the most frequently mentioned name.
Berghoff stressed that the governor was subjected to the same long list of probing questions about background, experience and philosophy.
The 63-year-old Daniels has served two terms as governor and is barred by state law from seeking a third term.
Daniels, wearing a gold and black necktie, was welcomed after the trustees' vote with the Purdue fight song.
"No, I did not buy this necktie just last night," he said, drawing laughs. "(Former Purdue President) Martin Jischke gave me this necktie seven years ago, and I have worn it several times, but never so proudly or emotionally as today."
The fact that Daniels is not a pure academic has rattled some faculty members, but others said they believe Daniels brings other strengths to the table.
Daniels addressed the issue, saying the next six months will be a lot of listening and very little talking on his part as he prepares himself to take the helm.
He added that he doesn't have any big plans for the university yet and won't until he spends a lot of time talking with all members of the Purdue community.
He also made it clear that he'll reach out to any doubting faculty members.
"I'm not a scholar and a scientist, but I'm as avid a student as a lay person can be," he said. "I will have to earn the honor."
Board Chairman Keith Krach said Daniels excels in three categories: as a leader, a visionary and a global statesman. He said that during a long series of conversations, the trustees had probably scrubbed Daniels harder than any of the other candidates.
"It became very clear to me his passion for higher education and his love for the university," Krach said.
Indiana Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers praised Purdue's decision.
"This announcement signals an exciting new chapter in the life of a great university and a great public servant," she said in a statement. "In naming Gov. Daniels as president, Purdue trustees chose to select a leader with superior intellectual credentials and a range of public and private experiences that will serve him and Purdue very well."
The former budget director under President George W. Bush had been widely recruited to run for president but chose not to. He had been mentioned as a running mate for Mitt Romney but said repeatedly he wasn't interested.
Daniels said he will recuse himself from political commentary in the months before he assumes the presidency, meaning he will engage in no further partisan political activity, whether it be speaking, fundraising or campaigning.
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