UD hasn’t encountered many totally corrupt American universities. We’re not like Italy and Greece, where one can find schools whose main function is to transfer all available funds to the institution’s leadership. The closest we’ve come is the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and even there they’ve had to shutter much of their shake-down operation after endless unpleasantness with the FBI. (I’m of course talking here only about legitimate universities. The for-profit tax syphons are almost entirely about transfer of all possible funds to management and investors. Whole other category.)

But the University of Louisville, some of whose students and faculty, as a local reporter notes, are “reeling” from one financial or sexual scandal after another, is emerging as America’s new UMDNJ. And it might be instructive to pause at its latest scandal – high-level med school resignations in the wake of an FBI investigation into allegations that (in the words of the only worthwhile UL trustee – a man who subsequently left the board in disgust) a university vice president “owns a piece of a company getting paid by a part of the university that he controls.” It’s alleged that he and several of his UL cronies have essentially stolen around eight million dollars from the university.

No bid contracts and bogus high-paying jobs to friends and family also seem to be part of this particular scandal. But that’s the typical threesome at corrupt schools, where no one’s around to stop you from total corruption:

1. conflict of interest for personal enrichment;
2. no bid contracts to cronies (these often feature kickbacks to you);
3. the creation of pretend jobs for cronies and relatives.

At schools like UL, you don’t do just one or two of these things; you do them all.

How does a school become systemically rotten in the way UL is systemically rotten? How did things get so out of control in virtually all areas of the school’s operation? (I’m not even going to talk about UL athletics, which has been a sewer for years.)

If you ask UD, this can only happen when absolute ignorance of – maybe even contempt for – the nature of a university prevails not only in parts of the local culture (that y’all and shut ma mouth land) but in the president’s office and on the board of trustees. UMDNJ was run by brainless Jersey wise guys; UL seems to be run by corporate backslappers. Even now, with the school in absolute tatters, UL has chosen as its spokesperson a look on the sunny side nitwit who attacks the press for its negativism, denies anything’s the matter, and says stuff that’s too stupid to parse:

“I’m not willing to cross that bridge and give you any information that’s going to appease your accusations.”

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A school run – flamboyantly run – largely to make money for the people who lead it will attract unsavory people. Unsavory people want to work at places like UL, since it seems unlikely that anyone at the institution will impede their corrupt activities. This is the way that corrupt schools stay corrupt, and indeed tend to become more corrupt. They attract corrupt people.

UD predicts that UL will, under this extraordinary pressure, finally ditch its president, who has lost all vestige of institutional control. But getting rid of him will cost the school many millions of dollars, and the chance of replacing him with anyone better is small.

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One Response to ““There is a sense that the university is reeling.””

  1. Jack/OH Says:

    ” . . . [T]ypical threesome at truly corrupt schools . . .”. Yep, that covers a lot of the hanky-panky at my local Podunk Tech. Nuances are important, as are the obligatory funny stories that need to be told to–how do you say this nicely?–cover up.

    E. g., “Isn’t the Director of Coordinative Services doing a bang-up job? Why, we’re lucky to have him!” Translation: the Director’s Dad is a big-time local guy who had the Director installed in a murky quid pro quo deal. The Director has a $70 thou a year do-nothing job (maybe $110 thou in DC or NYC). He’s been given enough money to buy flashy shit from a catalog, and that’s how he’s made his bones on campus among some administrators.

    This low-life stuff goes on and on, and it’s a discredit to the best aspirations that many of us believe reside in universities.

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