HomeTop StoriesI know Pamela Whitten. She is the leader Indiana University needs.

I know Pamela Whitten. She is the leader Indiana University needs.

If you’ve been checking your news feed recently, you’ve probably seen that some of our nation’s college leaders have come under fire from Congress—and rightly so—for their botched handling of the recent campus protests.

From the University of California, Los Angeles to Columbia University, we all learned a great lesson. Leadership vacuums are hotbeds for chaos, frustration and civil unrest. The government’s permissive attitude toward encampments and campus rules led to significant public safety concerns, violence, property destruction, and outright disregard for the law.

I am proud that this is not what happened in Indiana.

On the IU Bloomington campus, President Pamela Whitten and the administration, along with the Indiana State Police, took swift, concerted action to maintain law and order and ensure peaceful protests followed campus rules. She put student safety first and as a parent of a new IU graduate, I am grateful that she took action and made the right decision.

It takes incredible courage, especially under enormous pressure from all sides, to do what is right and shake up politics for itself. Chairman Quinn Buckner and his fellow trustees have shown similar courage with their steadfast support for Whitten as she navigates these challenges.

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Indiana University President Pamela Whitten watches during Indiana's spring game at Memorial Stadium on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

Indiana University President Pamela Whitten watches during Indiana’s spring game at Memorial Stadium on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

Since taking over the presidency of the university nearly three years ago, I have met and spoken with Whitten many times. I respect her student-centered approach, not only when it comes to campus safety, but also her tenacity in leading one of our state’s respected flagship universities.

The Indiana University Board of Trustees also made the right decision to fill the role of president with a highly respected change agent like Whitten. She took her position when IU was ranked in the bottom quartile of the Big Ten and has made it her mission to elevate competition and enhance the university’s reputation as a global leader. Purdue University is now in its second decade of phenomenal success and it’s time for IU to accelerate and raise the bar.

Change is happening. In fact, IU’s graduate programs are among the best in the nation, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings. The university also leads the state in total number of top 10 and top 20 graduate programs or specialties, an increase from last year.

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Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business ranked No. 5 among public universities and No. 20 overall, the school’s highest ranking since 2012. As a proud IU alumnus, I’m excited about the university’s momentum, much-needed changes that are taking place despite the strong status quo bias and the bright future that lies ahead.

Whitten is a great example of servant leadership in action, and I admire her commitment to student success, strengthening academic rigor, and increasing accountability and fiscal responsibility. All this is reflected in her words and actions.

She is the right leader for IU and she has my confidence.

Todd Huston is Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives.

This article originally appeared on the Indianapolis Star: IU’s peaceful protests show why Pamela Whitten is the right president

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