WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels' decisions to staff his administration with top officials from his time as governor and in business are drawing scrutiny from critics who question whether some of the appointments skirt state ethics laws.
About 30 new management or professional hires have appeared on Purdue's payroll since Daniels took office in January. At least six are former colleagues from Daniels' days as governor and as a top executive at Eli Lilly and Co., the Journal & Courier reported.
Experts say the administrative turnover is a normal occurrence in higher education after a new leader arrives. Former Purdue President France A. Cordova hired, promoted or created new roles for nine vice presidents from 2007 to 2011.
Daniels says it's no surprise that he's tapped top performers whom he knows from previous circles.
"We're not going to disqualify an all-star because they once were involved in public service," he said. "If it's clearly a necessary job, we want the best possible talent," Daniels said. "We don't need people who just want to punch a clock."
The state ethics commission has signed off on the hires of two former Daniels-appointed state commissioners who decided to leave Gov. Mike Pence's administration. But a faculty group says the growing number of hires with ties to Daniels raises a red flag.
"Whenever you have somebody that's been such a political person and they come into a position like this, you're always concerned they're bringing people in based on their abilities and not on their political affiliations or the fact they worked for him as governor," said Marcus Rogers, a cyberforensics professor and president of Purdue's chapter of the American Association of University Professors.
Rogers said faculty members want to ensure that all hires are done above-board and that Indiana executive branch appointees don't become a trend.