As the parent of a Purdue grad, I just received a letter from the university’s president, Mitch Daniels. Given the time of year, and the fact that Mitch and I are not regular correspondents, I assumed that the enclosure would be a pitch for money. And it was.

But after looking at the envelope, I hope that President Daniels chooses to invest some of the money Purdue will get from other recipients to fund some remedial education. That’s because the headline printed on the envelope noted that this was “no oridinary time” for the university.

I’m sure that one of Mitch’s many defenders will be quick to jump up and assure me that he had no responsibility for this most embarrassing typo, and that it was obviously the fault of some lackey in Purdue’s development department. Yes, I’m well aware that most university presidents probably don’t even see the mailings that go out in their names and over their signatures.

But this one is particularly embarrassing on two counts. First, Purdue has a well-earned reputation for excellence. While its focus on engineering and agriculture draws some derisive snickers close to home, the university is deservedly ranked among the world’s best closer to both coasts and across the oceans. Such a high-profile typo is like President Daniels giving a commencement address with a giant glob of mustard on his chin. It shouldn’t have happened anywhere, but it especially shouldn’t have happened in West Lafayette.

The second reason is that when he was Indiana’s governor, Daniels was a constant critic of the quality of the state’s K-12 education — and the typo conjures thoughts of an expression involving glass houses.


  1. As a copy writer & proofreader for a regional arts center, I can remember more than a couple gaffes coming out of our office, so I feel their pain. Still, it stings all the more when it comes from an academic organization. Our local school superintendent issued a communique this fall in which he remarked on the visit of an “Israily” folk band. Yikes!! Even the most basic spell check should have caught that one!

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