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Learning Curve

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    Purdue President Mitch Daniels' remarks during a public radio interview have drawn a quick response from IPFW faculty, who are challenging Daniels' assertion that regional campuses should not be engaged in research activities.
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Sweet deal at Purdue

I would say that I'm going to miss Rep. Jeff Espich when his 20th term ends this year, but I'm not – I'm going to continue calling and bothering him. His experience and common-sense approach are too valuable to ignore.

Upon learning about the extravagant exit package France Cordova was given as she left the president's office at Purdue, I immediately wondered what the Uniondale Republican would think. He did not disappoint.

"I'm offended," said Espich, who asked some of the toughest questions about university tuition at last year's state budget meetings. "Frankly, she was a failure. I don't know of any legislator who appreciated her. … She was not cooperative; she was not helpful. Companies seem to give their CEOs who fail great buyouts."

I've been hearing for years that Cordova was an unpopular leader and the pressure was on the Purdue trustees not to renew her contract. In his "Indiana Legislative Insight" newsletter, Ed Feigenbaum hinted that Cordova didn't even bother to learn the names of the Lafayette-area lawmakers. Espich was the first, however, to speak up about her demeanor, which was not what anyone should expect from the leader of a major public university.

Cordova's exit deal says more about the board of trustees than it does about the former president, however. It's a board badly out of touch with economic reality and everyday Hoosiers (not the Bloomington kind). Board President Keith Krach, a Silicon Valley exec, clearly sees no problem with a public university exhibiting the same kind of CEO/employee compensation gap as a Fortune 500 company.

Perhaps a university president known for slashing spending will begin with his own executive compensation package.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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