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Liberty + Leadership Podcast – Mitch Daniels on Campus Free Speech and Leadership at Purdue


Mitch Daniels is a former governor of Indiana who led the Hoosier state from 2005 to 2013. He then served as the president of Purdue University from 2013 to 2022. Mitch has served in the public sector across a number of roles, including as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, chief of staff to Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, and senior advisor to President Ronald Reagan. He also served as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Hudson Institute and Eli Lilly and Company. Mitch is a former member of the TFAS Board of Trustees, where he now serves as trustee emeritus. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his law degree from Georgetown University.

In this week’s episode of the Liberty + Leadership Podcast, TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 and Mitch take a deep dive into the issues addressed and the lessons learned during his landmark 12 years as president of Purdue University. Mitch talks about how Purdue was able to increase enrollment by 30 percent while tuition remained flat, how student loan forgiveness will end up being disastrous, how the adoption of the Chicago Principle allowed Purdue to promote free speech on campus, the balance of educating Purdue students in both STEM and citizenship, and how students should remain flexible as they’ll never know what opportunities life may present. He also reminds listeners that both the first and last man to walk on the moon were Purdue graduates and that 30 percent of all astronauts are Boilermakers.

Episode Transcript

The transcript below is lightly edited for clarity.

Roger Ream [00:00:00] Hello and welcome. I’m Roger Ream and this is the Liberty and Leadership Podcast, a conversation with TFAS alumni, supporters, faculty and friends who are making a real impact in public policy, business, philanthropy, law and journalism. Today I’m recording from the TFAS Annual Conference in Amelia Island, Florida. My guest is Mitch Daniels, trustee emeritus at The Fund for American Studies and the former governor of Indiana. He also just retired earlier this year as president of Purdue University. Mitch is a role model in politics and higher education. We’re going to hear from him about his political career and his service as Purdue’s president for ten years. Mitch, congratulations on your retirement and thanks for taking time to join us at this conference and to chat with me today.

Mitch Daniels [00:00:57] I’m resisting using the term. I’m saying I stepped down from the job. Not sure what’s next, but I may not be what people think of as retirement. We’ll see.

Roger Ream [00:01:09] Yeah, I hope not. I hope it isn’t. And I know you’ve got some plans already at Purdue. I’d like to start. I know tonight you’ll be talking at this conference about higher education, about some of what you’ve learned as president of Purdue. I’d love to take a few minutes to have you share that experience with us and particularly how you first approached the job when you were hired ten years ago and how you determined the priorities of your focus.

Mitch Daniels [00:01:34] The answer to that, how I approached it, is cautiously. It’s not something I’m disclosing for the first time. I said ‘no’ to the search committee and the trustees three or four times. I just didn’t think it was necessarily a good fit for them or for me. But I warmed up to the idea. I’m so glad I did. It was a tremendous experience in the end. In terms of early priorities, I had some ideas, some of which I proved, I think, are valid, and we pursued them to fruition. Some of them weren’t so wise. And I learned that, and we discarded those. But in general, these have been years of growth and action at Purdue University, the university is 30% larger than when we arrived. It is and this was certainly one of my correct early judgments. It is much more STEM-centric, as we say, even than it was before. We were about 41% of our undergrads, higher percentage of our graduate students were in one of the scientific or technological disciplines or engineering when I arrived, and it’s approaching 70% now. And that was something that was one reason I finally wound up drawn to the job. This is such an urgent national need to have more technological talent at the highest level. And nobody’s producing more such young talent than Purdue.

Roger Ream [00:03:18] Well, just pursuing that for a minute, I know that a lot of international students come to the U.S. to study, and many of them in the STEM area. And our visa program, from what I know, doesn’t seem to be structured in a way that we keep all that talent here. Many of it goes back to wherever they came from. What is the mix? Do you have a lot of international students at Purdue and as well as U.S.?

Mitch Daniels [00:03:43] We do, but there’s a story there. First of all, international students at Purdue is not a new thing as it is not a relatively recent thing as it is at some places. Students have been coming there for a century. Typically, young people who want to do a study, engineering, or some related discipline and particularly in Asia. If you go to Taiwan, if you go, for instance, or Japan, you’ll find a boilermaker every 50 feet. But in more recent times that number and its percentage of the student body had grown substantially. And I decided early on that it was too much of a good thing. And we’ve very consciously dialed back the percentage, which was well up into the class when I arrived, was almost 20% international and half of them from one country. And you can guess which one. And that was simply, I thought, going two or three steps too far. For one thing, you don’t get the alleged virtues of variety diversification. If too many from one place, they tend to self-segregate and they don’t interact with the American students, for instance, as you might hope. So, the last several classes at Purdue have been more like 7% or 8% international. And India now actually is the number one country. Fewer than 2% are from China. There obviously had become other issues with regard to China. So, there are other reasons I thought that was prudent. But, you know, basically we’re there to try to educate the next generation of top talent, particularly technological talent, for the U.S. And you’re right, many of these young people, for the best reasons, want to go home and build their countries, become more like America.

Roger Ream [00:05:56] Well, you’ve accomplished a lot as president of Purdue. But perhaps the most astonishing thing is over the last ten years, you haven’t raised tuition. How in the world did you do that?

Mitch Daniels [00:06:08] Well, I’d love to tell you it was some brilliant managerial, you know, insight really wasn’t, I would say. You ask about priorities earlier and I would just say this became a top priority for us. I’ve told the story many times that when I first got there – and I remember I was fresh from almost a decade moving around a pretty diverse state that Indiana is learning firsthand how difficult it was becoming for particularly middle-income families, moderate income families to afford college. And so, I never imagined we’d pull off what we did. I just wanted to have a one-year time out. Hit the pause button for one year. Had been 36 straight years of increases, which is true at almost every other school that you can name.

Roger Ream [00:07:01] Right.

Mitch Daniels [00:07:03] But it turned out it wasn’t that difficult to do. Not surprisingly, it was well received. And the next year, we had operated the university at a better than breakeven level. And I just kept posing the question year on year and I want to give you some qualifiers here, because people imagine things that weren’t a factor. We didn’t shrink or short the teaching mission. We’ve grown the faculty dramatically in keeping with a higher student population. Our pay raises for faculty and staff have been above the peer group average every single year. We didn’t get any more state money, surprisingly, it has been sort of flat all the way through. So, there was no windfall of any kind there. We, as I told you, we reduced the percentage of international students. We tried to practice real economy. We tried to prioritize affordability and accessibility, and it did just develop some momentum. A huge factor, honestly, was that in one of those virtuous cycles, people talk about a reputation for affordability, we know was one factor, not the only one in attracting more students. And as I mentioned earlier, we have something like 30% more students than we did. That’s one way you keep the price down for everybody.

Roger Ream [00:08:33] And I imagine, I’ll use the word selectivity of the students, the quality. I don’t know how you measure that exactly. Average SATs, whatever, is probably going up.

Mitch Daniels [00:08:43] Yeah, it’s going up. And, you know, we’re a land grant school and we are deeply imbued with the mission of democratizing education. So, we’re not necessarily happy when really talented young people, when we can’t squeeze them in. And it’s been the strategic decision or topic for some time at the board. How much bigger can we get without in any way compromising the academic quality or just the student experience? But even with the rather explosive growth, somewhat contrary to our early expectations, the academic readiness or quality keeps going up every year. You know, Purdue is the hot ticket right now.

Roger Ream [00:09:34] Yeah, there seems to be a little bit of a push here and there in this country now to suggest that too many young people are going to college, or at least not everyone has to go to college, and that employers should consider hiring people who don’t have a B.A. Obviously, if you’re going to hire an engineer, you want people in the STEM fields, You want them well-educated and probably with a graduate degree. But what do you think about, I mean, this leads into talking about student loan programs as well.

Mitch Daniels [00:10:06] I think those people have a point. And I’ve thought this for quite some time. There’s no question that a number of students felt the pressure of being compelled to go to college, who might have found a very worthwhile career through a different path. And those are beginning to open up. Alternative modes of learning some skill past high school other than a four year and possibly very expensive baccalaureate degree. I think it’s a very positive thing that a lot of employers have had second thoughts about this. I mean, it was very clear to me, even when I first took up my duties, that a lot of employers were using the four-year degree as a proxy for the smarts to get into somebody’s college and maybe some persistence that they actually finished. But they already knew then it’s become more and more clear that at least many schools, the quality, the rigor has been totally diluted, average GPAs skyrocketing, you know, closer to four than three. And, you know, you ask yourself how bad does somebody have to be to get a B in a place like that? We’ve leaned hard against that at Purdue University, by the way, that we’ve been trying to be very, very vigilant about so-called grade inflation. But for employers who are looking at it that way, it makes all the sense in the world to consider other means of identifying top talent. I mean, we already have a number of professional exams. If you can pass the CPA exam, you probably know accounting.

Roger Ream [00:11:49] Yes.

Mitch Daniels [00:11:49] If you pass the Bar exam, you’re probably fit to be a lawyer. And that can be done. And that’s starting to be done in other contexts, a lot of the high-tech companies don’t care. Can you code or not? Yeah, and it’s not hard to find out.

Roger Ream [00:12:04] You reminded me of a story from our experience at TFAS about ten years ago. We hired a business professor from, I won’t say what school, but a very prominent private university to teach for us. And one of the first things he asked me when we hired him was, “What’s your grading policy?” And I said, “Well, what do you mean?” And he said, “Well, I got let go from a major university once because I gave students grades below a B.”

Mitch Daniels [00:12:34] I wish I thought that was an isolated case but you and I both know it’s all too common.

Roger Ream [00:12:38] Well, speaking of tuition, you write a column in The Washington Post. Are you going to keep that column going?

Mitch Daniels [00:12:44] Haven’t decided.

Roger Ream [00:12:45] Okay.

Mitch Daniels [00:12:45] I don’t know. You know, I thought it was a natural time to at least have a pause on that while I was considering resuming political activity. But now if that’s behind me, I’ll think about it.

Roger Ream [00:13:04] I ask because I think it was in one of your columns, I read some criticism of the idea that we should forgive student loans or partially forgive student loans. What are your thoughts about that?

Mitch Daniels [00:13:17] Some criticism that sort of a mild characterization of my views on that. I do believe it is one of the worst policy suggestions in memory for a variety of reasons. And I tried to spell them out there.

Roger Ream [00:13:37] One being the Constitution, I think.

Mitch Daniels [00:13:38] Well, you know, that little matter of the Constitution, and who’s supposed to have the power of the purse, that’s absolutely a big one, but I think some of the others are equally obvious. First of all, it’s inequitable. There’s no way they can do this that won’t advantage wealthier students and students who are destined to be much wealthier. To young lawyers, let’s say, who are about to go earn huge six figure incomes, as a couple getting forgiven their loan it’s inequitable in that way. It’s grossly unfair to those who worked hard and lived up to their obligations and paid it back. 99+ percent of Purdue graduates who took out a student loan pay it back.

Roger Ream [00:14:35] Wow.

Mitch Daniels [00:14:35] I’m not sure how we’re supposed to tell them, you know, too bad suckers, you know, your timing was off. No, just the moral lesson that it would teach about living up to one’s obligations. The fiscal impact of another several hundred billion dollars. Note the irony that some of these young people are clamoring, you know, to be excused from an obligation they took on knowingly and willingly. If they’re lucky enough that that happens, those same young people are going to get the bill eventually because government doesn’t have this money. It will borrow more and hand them the charges. So, for all those reasons, any one of those reasons, I think would be sufficient to say it’s a bad idea. He put them all together. And as I say, hard put to name an idea that I’ve thought less of.

Roger Ream [00:15:37] Yeah. And in your service in Washington, in the administration as the budget director, you came face to face with the serious financial issues that we face in this country, not only annual deficits, which have ballooned tremendously since that time, but with the continuing accumulation of national debt that exceeds 31 trillion now and the unfunded liabilities. And this just adds to it. It’s not like we have a lot of money sitting around from surpluses we built up that we can do this, but what do you think it is? How are we ever going to get a handle on federal spending and borrowing and this debt? Or will we?

Mitch Daniels [00:16:16] Apparently the machine will have to go tilt, one could have hoped. I hoped for a very long time that we would pass this test of democracy. As people we would be willing to and a majority of Americans could be successfully appealed to think more about the future than the present, think about their children, and the intergenerational unfairness of what we’re doing. It’s not as though we’re borrowing this money and investing it in something that will pay off down the line. We’re borrowing all this money and spending it on ourselves today. And so, I’m afraid we’ll have to have a reality check. The cold smack of reality when it’s finally not just a projection, but that the day in which we cannot meet our safety net obligations arise. You know Roger, that’s all incredibly worrisome as a matter of the federal finances, as a matter of the economy, what all that borrowing will do when it goes for that purpose as opposed to economic growth and building opportunity. But I worry at least as much about the sense of betrayal that’s going to happen when people are suddenly told that these benefits can’t be delivered at the level they were promised and or that somebody’s taxes are going to have to go up massively to try to keep up with those promises. You know, if you think we have problems of social division today, imagine that scenario. And so, I continue to harbor the hope that since there’s no really no debate about any of this, there’s no computers, not a matter of computer models or competing philosophical views. It’s arithmetic.

Roger Ream [00:18:20] Yeah.

Mitch Daniels [00:18:21] And so I see stirrings of interest in Washington, and I hope they become something much bigger.

Roger Ream [00:18:30] Yeah, I saw the graph just the other day of what interest on the debt is doing as a percentage of the budget.

Mitch Daniels [00:18:38] Yeah, well, as Professor Friedman and others said and taught us a long time ago, governments that do what too many governments do. Debt, by the way, is what brought down empires of the past. Usually before some military conqueror did. And there are three things that governments do. As they become more and more desperate, they can inflate their way out. They can default. Or they can repress their way out. And that’s what we’ve been doing most recently. You just shaft the savers with absurdly low below inflation interest rates and hope they don’t notice. And so the federal government’s been getting by with low interest payments even as it keeps stacking up principal. But that’s starting to end because you were getting the inflation that is so destructive of free institutions. So, there’s a little more I think, reality beginning to intrude, but none too soon.

Roger Ream [00:19:51] You know, I carry in my briefcase a 10 trillion note from Zimbabwe.

Mitch Daniels [00:19:57] Yes?

Roger Ream [00:19:58] That was worthless. I mean, I think a friend of mine bought it for about $25. And, you know, the stories of pre-war Germany and between the wars leading up to the rise of Hitler was this massive inflation. And so, it can happen here because it’s happened to many other empires throughout history. If we don’t get a handle on it. Returning to a brighter subject, back to Purdue for a minute. It’s been an amazing school. It’s produced great STEM majors, people for the space program. Talk a little bit about that, your connection to the space exploration, what has happened at Purdue.

Mitch Daniels [00:20:37] That’s one of the fun things about working there. Our 26th NASA astronaut was just qualified, a young woman. One third of all the manned space flights up until at least a year or so ago. Last I caught sight of this had at least one boilermaker on board.

Roger Ream [00:21:00] Wow. Remarkable.

Mitch Daniels [00:21:02] And as we sometimes say, first and most recent men on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan. It’s obviously something we’re very proud of. We had a couple during my years there, we had a couple of reunions every so many years we invite them back. Most of the ones who are living make it back. It’s like I moderated a conversation among about 12 or 13 of them a few years ago. I didn’t have to do much, just get the ball rolling. They told stories. Audience of 6,000 people jammed into our biggest concert hall. They put us down in the orchestra pit and it was like a rock concert. They raised us up. Smoke’s going everywhere. The audience went crazy. Believe me, the Stones didn’t get any bigger ovation than those people did.

Roger Ream [00:21:54] Well, I think the plan for NASA is to send people to the moon again and they want to send a woman there. So, you have a chance of this woman being one of them.

Mitch Daniels [00:22:03] It could well be. Absolutely could.

Roger Ream [00:22:05] Also dealing with higher education. People all hear a lot today about, I think it started with the idea of safe spaces and then threats to free speech. And now it’s the woke university. How have you responded to that? I think you were one of the first to sign on to the Chicago Principles and for free speech.

Mitch Daniels [00:22:27] You know, I’m reticent about bringing this up, but I claim paternity over that term, Chicago Principles. Because University of Chicago had written some. This was an early action that we took. I was aware, as any reader of the news is, of some of these really unacceptable transgressions of people’s rights and of free inquiry on campuses. And so I wanted us to take a clear stance about it. University of Chicago, after a very careful process led by a 1960s avowed liberal. This is an interesting angle here. Geoffrey Stone, a constitutional scholar, led the group. They produced a statement of principle. I read it. I thought, shucks, I mean, we could have our own group go off for three years and whatever they came back with wouldn’t be any better than this. So, I called up President Zimmer in Chicago and said, “Would you mind if another school Xerox?” He said, “No, we’d be flattered, and we’d be pleased.” And so, I just took it to our board. We just did it. The board of trustees have full authority to make policy for their schools. I’ve never seen a bylaw of public, private or otherwise school that didn’t give them that authority. And so, we just did it, and that was that. But I say, I thought we should call it the Chicago Principles. I thought it would have more power if more and more schools signed the same statement. You remember the Sullivan principles?

Roger Ream [00:24:10] Right.

Mitch Daniels [00:24:13] I remembered that as the analog, that I thought it had more impact because all those corporations said exactly the same thing. So, it’s been slower than I had hoped. But there are – I think there’s some reasonable double-digit numbers who have signed the same thing. When I said a minute ago, I thought, an interesting angle. And we have had on campus two or three people, including Professor Stone, who grew up in an era when free speech was the cause of the left, that what they saw as these autocratic institutions.

Roger Ream [00:24:52] It was true at Berkeley. Free speech movement in the sixties.

Mitch Daniels [00:24:56] The Vietnam protests and so forth. Free speech was there to defend the dissidents of the time. And now they find themselves, I’ve met several such people who were civil rights leaders. They still have strong views that you would consider, you know, leaning left. But they can’t go along with this idea of censorship and the stifling of dissent that they grew up understanding how important that is to a free society. So it’s been fun to get to know people like that and to have this in common.

Roger Ream [00:25:35] Yeah. Congratulations on that success. Talk for a minute about what you’re doing at Purdue when it comes to civic literacy and civic education. That’s a concern of a lot of people in this country. And it’s, you know, K-12 as well as at higher education that we are teaching future citizens the importance of our principles.

Mitch Daniels [00:25:58] Yes, you’ve read, most of the listeners will have seen surveys not just of young people, but by now of the adult population, and they’re almost comical, except that they’re sad. Yeah. You know, they think Judge Judy’s on the Supreme Court and things like that. And so, we thought that in at least some modest way, we wanted a Purdue graduate to not only be exceptionally skilled at something that they learn and knowledgeable, but ready for citizenship. We’re supposed to be producing more than just great engineers; we’re supposed to be producing citizens. So, we want them to be civics-certified as we say. It’s a pretty simple process, but starting with the current freshman class, every Purdue student will have to pass a civics test. There are three pathways that they’re supposed to have undertaken before they do that. One of them is attend a minimum of six speeches, lectures or programs that will be certified, as, you know, close enough to the subject. There’s also – it so happens that one of our alums invented C-SPAN –

Roger Ream [00:27:25] Is that Brian Lamb?

Mitch Daniels [00:27:26] Yes, and we have all those archives. And so those folks have done a series of podcasts on major questions in civics. You know, why do we have separation of powers? What claims are made for the federal system, things like that. Watching that series is another thing that a student can do prior to go take the test. They can take the test more than once if they need to. But that, we think, is a small step, but a step in the right direction. So far, so good.

Roger Ream [00:28:09] Well, that I will call the Purdue approach and hopefully other schools will sign on to the Purdue approach.

Mitch Daniels [00:28:15] We’ve had a lot of folks come look at Purdue. I do hope that idea spreads. Certainly, the concern about civic illiteracy goes across almost the entire spectrum. I mean, we all know, there’s a segment of people who would be happy to mis-educate young people, not just leave them uneducated or poorly educated, but mis-taught. But leaving them aside, most people, I think, find that the current state of understanding of our free institutions inadequate.

Roger Ream [00:28:53] Yeah, I think that’s right. I think it does cut across the spectrum. We’ve had some outstanding students in our programs from Purdue and you’ve been kind enough to bring them over to meet with you either for coffee in your office. You took some to a basketball game this fall, which has been wonderful. We get outstanding students in our program. Since many of our young alumni listen to this, I wanted to ask you something that stemmed from hearing you at a program at the American Enterprise Institute a few months ago when you responded to a question by saying you never really had a plan for where you wanted to go next in life. You kind of took opportunities as they came along and of course, performed superbly and more opportunities came. But what advice do you give to students at Purdue who are trying to figure out what to do in their lives?

Mitch Daniels [00:29:47] I encourage them to have a clearer idea than I did. I think it’s great that they are as purposeful as they are and as forward looking as they are. They’ve all chosen coming in the door. I’m not sure this is a good idea, but we still do this at Purdue. You do have to choose a major as you come in, not midway through, so they have some idea and obviously we encourage that and try to prepare them as well as we can for whatever that field might be. But I do tell them all the time, you know, stay light on your feet, stay open to possibilities with your talent and the kind of education that you have a chance to obtain here, the world will present you with options that you haven’t thought about yet. And I never encourage people to be impulsive about that, but just to recognize that they’re going to come and be ready to examine them openly when they do. And I can testify that things you never expected, like the chance to work at Purdue University, were the most fulfilling roles that ever came my way.

Roger Ream [00:31:12] When we were talking before about the financial situation of our federal government and of our country, it’s easy to conclude that things look grim on that front. But I suspect you aren’t a pessimist about the future. How would you tag yourself in terms of whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist?

Mitch Daniels [00:31:31] I sometimes say I’m obstinately optimistic. I can give you all the reasons not to be. And we shouldn’t be blind to this. Great nations, no great nation has lasted forever (ours is still very young), and particularly those that try to operate under conditions of freedom. We will have to demonstrate some maturity as a democracy, as we talked about earlier. So, we don’t spend ourselves broken and wind up hopelessly beholden to others. But no, I mean, we still have an asset that at least the visible would be competitors don’t. And that is the spontaneity that open institutions afford the people economically in terms of innovation and for the political systems which go through cycles of difficulty and paralysis and acrimony. And we’re in one, but we’ve been there before, and our system has the chance to adapt. And America has produced people in the past who have led us out of difficulties like that. And so, I’m optimistic that’s going to happen again.

Roger Ream [00:32:59] The theme of our conference this weekend is Keeping the American Dream Alive. Do you think the American dream is still alive?

Mitch Daniels [00:33:05] Sure it is. Just go look at the people who are leading some of our most spectacularly successful businesses and other enterprises. Some of them weren’t born here. Many of them weren’t. There are what we used to call Horatio Alger stories everywhere.

Roger Ream [00:33:25] There still are.

Mitch Daniels [00:33:26] And so there’s no question that it’s still alive now. We lost some of the cultural capital that made that sort of life experience more accessible to people in the past. We worry, and we should, about the quality of our education and so forth. That’s not all. That’s not the only problem. Might not even be the biggest problem. We have to renew a spirit of hard work, personal responsibility. These things which were once stronger norms in society than they have been recently. People who have that approach to life, to work and society can succeed today. There’s no question they can succeed, even if they weren’t fortunate enough to have a great education or some material head start. So, sure, we have those challenges, but it isn’t hard to find people who surmount them. And so, you know, people who claim that somehow the dream is not still a reality may be making excuses for their own failure to take advantage of it.

Roger Ream [00:35:00] Well, last question. You’ve decided just this past week that elective office is not in the plan, at least for this year. You’re going to be affiliated, I think, in the business school at Purdue going forward?

Mitch Daniels [00:35:15] Yeah. Purdue has asked me to maintain a relationship. I’m going to chair their research foundation, which has a variety of activities, including all our tech transfer and commercialization of Purdue’s inventions. We’re routinely now in the top handful in the world in new patents and so forth. And the question is how can you best move those into the marketplace where they can be of some use to somebody? So, I’ll be doing that and a few other chores for them.

Roger Ream [00:35:47] I want to ask about something we talked about a little informally before we started the podcast, and that’s just attitudes of students toward business. We see surveys that show support for capitalism is about 30%, and 30% of students say socialism and 30% don’t know. If you ask them about free enterprise, that scores higher, entrepreneurship scores higher. But what do you find the attitudes of young people about, you know, careers in business or about the economic system in this country?

Mitch Daniels [00:36:21] I know Purdue’s not completely typical, but it’s what most of them are interested in doing. Our business school has been growing and we think is on track to grow by another little amount, another third. And, you know, I think what those surveys tell me is that there is another gap in young people’s education. They don’t know what socialism is. They think it means being nice to people. They’ve heard a lot of criticisms that are completely invalid about capitalism as some people describe it. But if you ask them what they hope to do in life, it’s make a good living and work at something that they find fulfilling and that creates value for other people. Yeah, well, that’s business.

Roger Ream [00:37:21] Well, thank you. I appreciate you being with us. I appreciate your service on our Board of Trustees for many years, and I’m proud to call you a TFAS emeritus trustee.

Mitch Daniels [00:37:32] I’m proud to be, Roger. If you hadn’t kicked me off, I might still be there. When you go into public life, you have to divorce yourself from all such involvements. But as you know, I’ve never lost sight of what you do. And it’s one of the great missions out there, one of the great programs that are very fortunate that they’ve kept you at the helm these years. So, I’m always grateful for the chance to be associated.

Roger Ream [00:37:57] Well, thank you. You may get an invitation to rejoin the Board then. Thank you very much, Mitch.

Roger Ream [00:38:04] Thank you for listening to the Liberty and Leadership Podcast. Please don’t forget to subscribe, download, like or share the show on Apple, Spotify, or YouTube or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like this episode, I ask you to rate and review it and if you have a comment or question for the show, please drop us an email at podcast@TFAS.org. The Liberty and Leadership Podcast is produced at kglobal Studios in Washington, D.C. I’m your host Roger Ream and until next time, show courage in things large and small.

About the Podcast

TFAS has reached more than 46,000 students and professionals through academic programs, fellowships and seminars. Representing more than 140 countries, TFAS alumni are courageous leaders throughout the world forging careers in politics, government, public policy, business, philanthropy, law and the media.

Join TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 as he reconnects with these outstanding alumni to share experiences, swap career stories, and find out what makes their leadership journey unique. With prominent congressmen, judges and journalists among the mix, each episode is sure to excite your interest in what makes TFAS special.

If you have a comment or question for the show, please email podcast@TFAS.org.

View future episodes and subscribe at TFAS.org/podcast.


Recent Posts


Lessons from Ronald Reagan’s Presidency with Dr. Donald Devine

This week, another exceptional guest joins us on the Liberty + Leadership Podcast: Dr. Donald Devine - President Ronald Reagan’s civil service director and TFAS senior scholar.

NPR Editor’s Tell-All Confirms What We Already Knew About The Media

Below is an excerpt from an op-ed by Roger Ream that originally appeared in The Hill. You can find the entire article here.  2024 has not been kind to American journalism. Mainstream news outlets — including NBC News, CBS, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times,…

Jillian Lederman and Luke Lyman Selected as 2024 Joseph Rago Memorial Fellows for Excellence in Journalism

The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) and The Wall Street Journal are pleased to announce Jillian Lederman and Luke Lyman as the two recipients of the 2024 Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism. The Fellowships are being awarded to two…