Mitch ‘The Blade’ Daniels Takes on Higher Ed

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels leaves the White House after a meeting of the National Governors Association with President Barack Obama on February 27, 2012 in Washington, DC.

From Bloomberg View’s Ticker blog

The college business model, says Mitch Daniels, is all wrong and deserves to be toppled. Other than that, he seems to like his new job as Purdue University’s president. On Wednesday, he sat down with Bloomberg News reporters and editors for a discussion about college costs, online education and inequality.

Daniels is a former Indiana governor and White House budget director under President George W. Bush, who nicknamed him “The Blade” for his budget-cutting skill. He supports President Barack Obama’s call for a better college-rating system. “The ratings of today are worse than none at all, because they tend to encourage bad behavior,” he says, “like the more you spend, the better your ratings tend to go.” A lot of schools have decided to chase the ratings, he says, resulting in serial tuition hikes.

He doesn’t like Obama’s idea of federal ratings, however, which he feels could be manipulated. Instead, Daniels would have schools provide better information about graduation rates and post-graduation success — putting the emphasis on results and costs.

One of his first acts at Purdue: declaring a two-year tuition freeze. Next up is an increased emphasis on Internet classes. Already, Purdue has converted 63 of its larger courses to a hybrid model in which students watch most lectures online. Classes are reserved for projects or other exercises where students have to demonstrate what they’ve learned.

Read the full column here.

Paula Dwyer is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.

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