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Has Mitch Daniels changed his mind about building big buildings?

Has Mitch Daniels changed his mind about building big buildings?
Hardly! He was sure to address why he supported the Animal Science complex.

One interview I enjoy doing is talking to candidates for governor during the election cycle. I will never forget my interview with Mitch Daniels. It was his first campaign, and he was on the road in his famous RV becoming "my man Mitch."

Related: Why the Purdue Animal Sciences Complex almost never happened

I met him at Applebee's in Franklin, and we had a quiet conversation like any two people would. No fanfare, just down to business. One of my questions touched squarely on his plans for education.

Build it! This time Mitch Daniels gave a large building project a 'thumbs up.'

"We're going to do all we can, but what we aren't going to do is let people build a lot of large monuments out there," he told me. "We're spending too much on buildings and not enough in educating the students inside the buildings."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I was part of the school board that had approved a huge building project for a brand new high school to be built about three miles from where we sat. I'm still glad I didn't tell him that story.

So recently he shows up at the groundbreaking for the Purdue University Animal Sciences Complex, a $65 million project that will be completed in 2017.

I thought you didn't like big buildings, Mitch? Now, of course, he's no longer governor. Instead, he's president of Purdue University.

"I'm not about building buildings just to have nice buildings," he says. "I'm always afraid 20 years down the road someone will come along and say, who was the fool that OK'd that project, which no longer meets the need?

"This one wasn't like that. You can be sure we scrutinized the project with the Board of Trustees and others. But this idea went to the top of our priority list with the legislature pretty quick. This time we needed to say yes.

"What is happening here will become part of solving the challenge of feeding a hungry world tomorrow. It gets down to the most basic of human needs – people being able to feed themselves.

"It only makes sense to invest in a most urgent endeavor."

Daniels believes this complex will allow for world-class education and research in an area vital to not only Indiana and Purdue, but to the U.S. and the world.

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