We finally met

Taken when I ran into him a few months ago.

Taken when I ran into him a few months ago.

It’s been awhile, but I finally met with President Daniels. I did not think I would get the opportunity after the Howard Zinn fiasco, but got an email from his assistant earlier this week. I met with him this morning and it went well. It got very heated at points, but there was a tone of respect and desire to think outside the box.

We talked about the outcomes based pay and what it means to be subjective. That the fact that someone is determining what the outcomes are- is the subjective point. He got that.

We talked about the issues relating to his appointment. He feels that he was asked to be there and he wants to be help Purdue. I pointed out that he appointed people that had the same ideologies as him (which he agreed) and so it is understandable that they would think like him. He did not see it as cronyism – I think this is a sensitive topic for him.

Daniels thinks that the students, alumni, and faculty all support him, and all the decisions that he makes. That the news is picking up on the topics against him because that is what the news does – highlights the issues. I talked about the community of fear that is on this campus, especially within the staff.

We discussed the Howard Zinn situation. Daniels pointed out how Zinn was against the scientific method – I assume meaning that he did view the world through am objective paradigm. I said everything was subjective, and he said it wasn’t. I pointed to gravity and how gravity itself can be objective, but our understanding of it has changed dramatically over time and there still are many things we do not know.

I discussed my view that a governor should not be dictating what is in schools because there is a board for that. That such actions are censorship. I recognized it was the more radical stance. He is very passionate about keeping a stance of academic freedom, but I don’t think he really understands what it is. I am hoping by discussing my stance, which I think is consistent with many academics, he might be able to see that this is less of a cut and dry issue as he seems to see it. It’s not just about what is taught in classes at universities.

I told him that if he wanted to gain some academic freedom credibility, he should personally invite James Loewen to Purdue University, and ideally invite him for a meal. He said he will look into it and I will do a follow up email later.

Overall, I was able to hold my ground quiet well. The conversation got intense and went over about 15 minutes- he agreed to talk again. I am looking forward to it.

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