WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Purdue President Mitch Daniels admitted
Thursday he made an error in judgment by delivering a paid speech at a
fundraiser for a conservative Minnesota think tank after promising to
avoid partisan politics while at the helm of the university.
In a public letter published online by the Journal & Courier, Daniels said
his appearance in Minneapolis on Monday for The Center of the American
Experiment belonged among the dozens of others he has turned down because
the potential downsides outweighed the opportunity to promote Purdue.
"I conclude that better judgment would have been to decline," Daniels
Some Purdue faculty members have questioned the speech because Daniels has
said repeatedly he would avoid partisan activities while Purdue's
"I accept the validity of the criticism and will try to avoid similar
judgment errors in the future," Daniels wrote.
Daniels said his speech covered the themes of delivering basic services
effectively, bringing people together across political lines, the
importance of civility in public discourse, and "the centrality of social
mobility and opportunity for the yet-to-haves in our society as goals of
"I would like to assure those concerned that I gave a scrupulously
nonpartisan speech, as I had told the hosts was a requirement of my
acceptance," he said.
Daniels hasn't disclosed how much he was paid at the request of organizers
of the fundraiser. He said he'll use the honorarium to help fund
scholarships that he and his wife, Cheri, are providing to Purdue
He said he complied with every rule of his contract as president and
Daniels traveled on a Purdue plane to Minneapolis for the speech and then
to Newark, N.J., to take part Tuesday in NBC News' Education Nation panel
in New York City.
The chairman of the Purdue Board of Trustees, Tom Spurgeon, said Daniels'
use of the school plane was appropriate and Purdue benefits when he
appears on news shows and at conferences and events.