WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Thursday accepted an offer to become the next president of Purdue University, quashing speculation he could be GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate in November.
Purdue officials announced the former White House budget director and Eli Lilly executive would be the university’s 12th president following a unanimous vote by the school’s board of trustees, eight of whom were appointed by Mr. Daniels.
The governor, who was mentioned briefly as a possible 2012 presidential candidate, will replace France Cordova, who is stepping down in July after five years at Purdue’s helm.
“He’s a strategist. He’s an innovator. But most of all, he’s a doer,” said trustee Chairman Keith Krach.
Mr. Daniels will take office in January after his second term as governor expires. He said his appointment ends the possibility that Mr. Romney might tap him as a running mate or, if elected, to a Cabinet post. He said he won’t be involved in partisan politics after making one last out-of-state appearance this weekend.
“No campaigning, no commenting about anybody’s campaigning in the state or out [of] state or anywhere else — no fundraising, nothing. I won’t be a delegate to the national convention,” he said.
Mr. Daniels, 63, is expected to bring a business-minded approach, fundraising skill and an image as an efficient manager to his new job. But he’ll also find himself on the flip side of a challenging education environment that has seen state money for public institutions decline dramatically in recent years.
As governor, Mr. Daniels ordered $150 million carved out of state higher-education funding in December 2009 as Indiana’s revenues declined. Purdue’s state funding has fallen from a peak of $262 million in 2008-09 to $233.9 million for the just-completed school year.
The university also came under fire from state lawmakers over its tuition increases at the height of the recession. Purdue’s in-state tuition rates have risen by as much as 62 percent since 2004, according to figures provided by the university.
Mr. Daniels has aggressively tackled education issues during his tenure, helping establish Western Governors University, an online option for nontraditional students, and pushing the legislature to reduce the number of credit hours it takes to achieve some degrees. He also led changes in kindergarten-to-12th-grade education, including the nation’s broadest use of school vouchers.