What Are Universities For? Reunions 2016 Discussion with Mitch Daniels ‘71

Annual Princeton University Reunions Event

May 26, 2016
Reunions event poster

Mitch Daniels ‘71President, Purdue University; Former Governor of Indiana; Robert P. GeorgeMcCormick Professor of Jurisprudence; Director, James Madison Program, Princeton University

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. ’71 is the 12th president of Purdue University, a post he assumed in January 2013 at the close of his term as Governor of Indiana. He was elected governor in 2004 in his first bid for elected office, then re-elected in2008, with more votes than any candidate for public office in Indiana history. During his tenure, Indiana went from bankruptcy to a AAA credit rating, led the nation in infrastructure building, and passed sweeping education, ethics and tax reforms. After a series of transformations, including the biggest tax cut in state history, the nation's most sweeping deregulation of the telecommunications industry and the passage of a right-to-work law, Indiana's business climate is now rated among the nation's best. At Purdue, President Daniels has prioritized student affordability and success. Breaking with a 36-year trend, Purdue held tuition unchanged from 2013 through at least the 2016-17 academic year. Simultaneously, room rates have remained steady, meal plan rates have fallen about 10%, and student borrowing has dropped 18% - giving students and their families some $40 million to invest in other dreams. Other top priorities include increased accountability in higher education, accelerating growth in Purdue's STEM disciplines (supporting both the national economy and Purdue's strengths), reinforcing select research areas, and enabling research commercialization. In recognition of his leadership as both a governor and a university president, Daniels was named among the Top 50 World Leaders by Fortune Magazine in March 2015. Among a host of other personal honors, he received the 2013 Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton University. Daniels is a board member of numerous non-profit organizations, including the Urban Institute and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Currently, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Commission on Postsecondary Education, and, with U.S. Senator Mark Warner, he co-chairs the Aspen Institute's Future of Work Initiative. Previously, Daniels served as the cochair of the National Research Council's Committee on Human Spaceflight and the Council on Foreign Relations' 2014 taskforce on non-communicable diseases. Previously, Daniels has been President of Eli Lilly's North American Pharmaceutical Operations, senior advisor to President Reagan, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. Daniels earned a bachelor's degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, where he was a member of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, the Young Republicans club, and the Charter Club. He received a law degree from Georgetown, and is the author of three books.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He is chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He has served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has also served on UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), of which he continues to be a corresponding member. He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. He is the author of In Defense of Natural Law, Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality, The Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion and Morality in Crisis, Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism, and co-author of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics, What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, and Conjugal Union: What Marriage Is and Why It Matters. His scholarly articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the American Journal of Jurisprudence, and the Review of Politics. Professor George is a recipient of many honors and awards, including the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Sidney Hook Memorial Award of the National Association of Scholars, the Philip Merrill Award of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, the Bradley Prize for Intellectual and Civic Achievement, and the Stanley Kelley, Jr. Teaching Award from Princeton's Department of Politics. He has given honorific lectures at Harvard, Yale, University of St. Andrews, and Cornell University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and holds honorary doctorates of law, ethics, science, letters, divinity, civil law, humane letters, and juridical science. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School, he also received a master’s degree in theology from Harvard and a doctorate in philosophy of law from Oxford University.


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  • Mitch Daniels '71 and Robert P. George Reunions Event
  • Mitch Daniels '71 and Robert P. George Reunions Event
  • Mitch Daniels '71 and Robert P. George