> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Daniels: A new big man on campus
Let’s tick off Gov. Mitch Daniels’ qualifications — and they’re considerable — to serve as Purdue University’s next president before we get to a couple of potential complications.
Ample experience in leading a large, complex organization? Of course.
Proven ability to raise funds? Yes.
An engaging personality with the ability to serve as the university’s public face in large- and small-scale settings? Check.
Knows the ins and outs of how decisions are made within state and national governments? Double check.
Sufficient business savvy to help grow the university’s economic development efforts? Yes, again.
The intellectual heft and curiosity to lead a major research university? Expect Daniels to hold his own with the Boilermakers’ best and brightest.
Given those strengths, it’s no surprise that a top officer in a national executive search firm raved about the governor’s expected appointment as Purdue’s 12th president.
“From my perspective this is a ‘wow’ appointment,” Dennis Barden, senior vice president of Illinois-based Witt/Kiefer, told The Star. “... In terms of what a college president does today this is a huge, huge positive, this is a big win for Purdue.”
So what are the possible complications? Well, to be blunt, Daniels can have a sharp tongue. He also flashes a temper on occasion, in both public and private settings. And he seldom suffers what he considers to be foolishness gladly.
In short, and this admittedly sounds strange, Daniels may not be enough of a politician — in the sense of speaking in measured, hard-to-decipher phrases — to avoid frequent controversy in a university environment where all sorts of viewpoints are not only tolerated but encouraged.
Also, don’t expect Daniels to be a mere caretaker of the university bureaucracy. Can the governor resist the urge to streamline operations and squeeze out inefficiencies in a university environment where increases in tuition and fees routinely outpace inflation? Tuition payers and taxpayers hope not. But Mitch the Knife may find budget-trimming even tougher on campus than in government.
Still, Mitch Daniels as Purdue president is a fascinating choice, and one that will command attention on West Lafayette for years to come.
— The Indianapolis Star
Indiana must do more to stop tobacco use
The best argument in favor of strengthening Indiana’s anti-smoking efforts may be the most recent numbers on teenage smoking.
Protecting public health by increasing the incentive to keep Hoosiers from lighting up ought to be a priority.
Although teen smoking has declined, more than 3 million high school students and 600,000 middle school students still smoke cigarettes.
While numbers have declined in recent years nationwide, the drop-off has slowed.
In Indiana, the decline in smoking among high school youth from 2000 to 2010 was 45 percent; among middle school students during the same period, the drop was even greater, 56 percent. By high school, however, our young people smoke at a rate that outpaces the national average. Among adults, Indiana has consistently remained among the nation’s top 10 states for tobacco use. An estimated 21 percent of Hoosiers age 18 and older smoke; that’s more than a million smokers.
Studies say that 9 in 10 smokers start before they turn 18 and that youthful addiction brings the potential for more serious health effects.
Given the immense public education effort on this issue, it is impossible to think teens are unaware of dangers or that giving them more information can entirely overcome the risk-taking and peer pressure that turns youths to tobacco.
What has been effective? Tightening enforcement of statutes that outlaw selling tobacco to minors. Indiana authorities already are aggressive in this regard. Increasing tobacco taxes can help, too. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids cites research suggesting that a 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes cuts kids’ smoking about 7 percent.
Tightening the new statewide smoking ban to discourage smoking in every public place, as its advocates suggest, would also send a message and promote a healthier Hoosier culture.
— South Bend Tribune
Financial literacy program responsible move for IU
Students at Indiana University will be well served with a new comprehensive program on student financial literacy announced this week at the university’s trustees meeting.
College loan debt is becoming a crushing issue for many students, and IU is wise to formalize efforts to help young people understand the long-term financial implications of indebtedness. A comment this week by IU chief financial officer Neil Theobald was indicative of the weight of the problem: “Student debt is the most important issue facing Indiana University financially.”
IU’s action will help equip students for what lies ahead when they complete their degrees. This initiative is a responsible effort that will give IU graduates a better chance to succeed when they leave campus.
— The Herald-Times, Bloomington
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
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