A presidential learning curve: Politician in Daniels is at odds with his new role as Purdue leader

Tim Goral's picture

For those with doubts over whether a partisan politician could run a state university, the recent flap over years-old emails from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels criticizing liberal historian Howard Zinn seemed to confirm their worries.

Was Daniels, now president of Purdue University, attempting to censor controversial textbooks? Was he endangering academic freedom? Did he plagiarize his response statement?

Absolutely not, Daniels has said. But the Zinn incident appeared to catch him in an awkward conflict between his past role as a blunt-spoken politician who dismissed detractors and won praise for his businesslike approach and his current position as president in a college environment where open thought is generally welcome.

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