The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Campus Free Speech

The Academic Freedom Podcast #16 with Mitch Daniels

A conversation with the outgoing president of Purdue University and former Republican governor of Indiana.


A new episode of The Academic Freedom Podcast from the Academic Freedom Alliance is now available. Subscribe through your favorite platform so you don't miss an episode.

In this episode, I talk with Mitch Daniels about the state of campus free speech, some initiatives at Purdue University, and the growing Republican hostility to universities. Daniels is the outgoing president of Purdue University. He previously served as a Republican governor of Indiana and the director of the Office of Management of Budget in the second Bush administration. Given Daniels' serious experience in both university leadership and Republican Party politics, I was particularly happy to get his views on higher education as a target in the culture wars.

Purdue has an impressive record on free speech. The university clocked in at number three in the latest FIRE rankings. During Daniels' presidency, Purdue launched a free speech component as part of its orientation for first-year students. Purdue was an early adopter of the University of Chicago statement on free expression.

In our conversation, Daniels talks not only about his efforts on this issue at Purdue, but also about the value of tenure for university faculty, the problem with legislative efforts to restrict the discussion of controversial ideas on college campuses, the risks of activists boards of trustees intervening in faculty hiring and promotion decisions, and the political problem created by the lack of ideological diversity on university faculties.

Listen to the whole thing here.