WEST LAFAYETTE – As details emerged Friday of what future Purdue students might have to prove about their civics literacy before they can get a diploma – a proposed graduation requirement that would, in a way, mirror the test given to naturalized citizens, plus other steps during a college career – Trustee Malcolm DeKryger turned to Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

Did those proposed specs, DeKryger wondered, meet the goals Daniels had set out when he challenged faculty a year ago to come up with a way to address what he called a national crisis in basic civics literacy?

Daniels said: “Absolutely.”

Daniels’ conclusion after Friday’s trustees meeting was that a faculty committee hashing out the details about a possible civics literacy graduation requirement had “probably made it better than I could have come up with.”

“I just sort of threw up a jump ball,” Daniels said about his initial request of faculty in January 2019.

“It’s the goal of a Purdue graduate being able to say – or Purdue, as an institution, being able to say – that in addition to everything else they’re learning here, our graduates have a grasp of the basic institutions of our society,” Daniels said. “I just think we’ll add value to a degree and reflect well on the school.”

Whether it will be enough to get through the University Senate – a faculty-led body that would need to sign off on any new graduation requirements and that has been skeptical of Daniels’ assumptions and goals on this, whether civics literacy really was a problem among the student body or whether it was really Purdue’s job to fix – is still in doubt.
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