Proud Mary…

… keep on earnin’!

With the latest resignation — they keep going up the food chain at North Carolina State; today it’s the chancellor — in the Mary Easley scandal, UD finds herself modifying her position vis-a-vis Mary, who, despite non-stop begging and bullying from a bunch of guys at NCSU desperate to get her out of her politically rigged, massively overpaid, totally corrupt job on campus, has refused to leave.  (Today we also discover, via just-released emails, that her husband — at the time the governor — got the job for her.)

UD now thinks Mary should stay.  Whenever a bunch of guys beat up on a woman it pisses me off.  Screw them.  They did all they could to get the little lady a big money do nothing gig at Patronage Acres and now they’re losing their jobs because they wrote emails to each other about what they were doing.  Mary did everything right according to the Corrupt Southern University System Handbook.  She kept her head down.  She didn’t write any emails.

She gets to stay.

**************

Update: Mary just got canned.
Tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.
Floor strewn with dead bodies, up to and
including Gertrude.

Proud Mary Easley

Y know, every now and then
I think you might like to hear something from UD
Nice and easy

But there’s just one thing
You see UD never does nothing
Nice and easy

She always does it nice and rough
So we’re gonna take the beginning of this song
And do it easy

Then we’re gonna do the finish rough
This is the way we do Proud Mary

And we’re rolling, rolling, rolling on the river
Listen to the story

She left a law job in the city
Working for the man every night and day
And she never lost one minute of sleeping
Worrying bout the way things might have been

Big wheel keep on turning
Proud Mary keep on earning
And we’re rolling, rolling
Rolling on the river

Ate a lot of roe in Russia
Had a chauffeured car in Gay Paree
But she never saw the good side of her marriage
Till she got a job at the UNC

Big wheel keep on turning
Proud Mary keep on earning
And we’re rolling, rolling
Rolling on the river

Professor Avril Henry, whose life work was one of utter delicacy and beauty…

… as she devoted her considerable intelligence and visual skill to the understanding and preservation of England’s medieval heritage, lived alone in a Devon cottage. In retirement, she was active in her town’s affairs, in the continued pursuit of her research, and in the right to die movement.

Because of what she called, in her suicide note, “the illogical, cruel British law” which forbids assisted suicide, once she became too debilitated and ill to want to go on, she had to die an undelicate and ugly death, alone, days after having been harassed by the police for having imported certain lethal drugs.

The note is a model of incision and self-control — and pathos, as she arranges “burial in my orchard” and specifies that she washed the pills down with “a miniature bottle of Cointreau.” Meticulous and courteous to the end, she notes that

If I have fouled the bath in death, please please be kind enough to wash it down: Dettol is provided.

A sad death for a proud, autonomous woman.

*******************

Mary Warnock has written:

When opponents speak of “life being precious”, they forget that life isn’t a kind of stuff, like water, which has an objective value, and which we can be urged not to squander, but to preserve. If a human being has got to the state where her life is hateful to her, no one else can insist it is valuable. It is for her to judge its value.

Warnock also points out that better palliative care, while a solution for some people, would be insupportable for others.

I do not believe that everyone would prefer palliative care. There are those for whom it would be a nightmare and who would prefer death to the drawn-out process of being kept alive and conscious, however kind, attentive and competent their carers.

This is the second right-to-die professor UD has taken note of on this blog. She tends to agree that this is one of the great human rights issues of our time, and she will approach the controversy by following stories about professors who act on their belief that reasonable people deserve the freedom to decide when they have had enough of life.

**********
UD thanks dmf.

***********
A comment on the religious argument:

The main idea here is the “sanctity of life” — the belief that life is precious and death should never be hastened. I can understand this point of view, but I think it should apply only to believers. Why should the rest of the population be held to this standard?

Come with UD on a trip back in time…

… to Mike Locksley’s tenure as University of New Mexico football coach:

Let’s begin with this question: Does Mike Locksley, University of New Mexico football coach, make too much?

Well, before we reveal his salary, let’s consider what he’s contributed to UNM so far this year.

1.) The team’s record: 0 – 6. He’s in his first year, and has lost every game he has coached.

2.) He has an EEOC complaint against him for firing an administrative assistant because, he told her, he wanted a younger woman to “entice recruits.”

3.) He has a history of violent behavior, and has most recently beaten up one of his assistant coaches.

So… what seems a reasonable salary for this man?

Did you say $750,000 a year?

Bingo.

That was October 2009. Here’s a more recent version:

Locksley’s stint at New Mexico could not have gone much more poorly. He was 2-26, fired in September 2011 after an 0-4 start to his third season. The Lobos finished 113th and 116th nationally in scoring in his two full seasons, both of which ended at 1-11. Off the field, it was just as bad. Locksley was accused of sexual discrimination by a former administrative assistant in a lawsuit resolved out of court. And he missed one game in 2009 to serve a suspension for his involvement in an altercation with assistant coach J.B. Gerard. His final game at UNM, a 48-45 loss to FCS-level Sam Houston State, was played before an announced crowd of 16,313, the Lobos’ smallest since 1992, and came in the wake of a DWI arrest of a 19-year family friend who was driving a car registered to the coach’s wife and son.

Okay, so UD is proud and excited to announce that Locksley will now be Mr UD’s coach! Yes, Locksley’s the new coach at the University of Maryland, and Mr UD will be part of his faculty cheering squad!!

***************

More commentary on the exciting changes at the University of Maryland here.

Drama Requires Conflict.

First-rate dialogue doesn’t hurt either.

So far, one of our main characters – Professor Julius Nyang’oro – has been frustratingly silent, so not even a speech, much less dialogue there. But he apparently will cooperate with authorities – i.e., talk – about his long history generating fake courses for athletes at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Two other dramatis personae – Mary Willingham and Rashad McCants – have had lots to say about UNC’s corrupt academic tutoring system (that would be Willingham, who’s suing UNC ) and its “garbage no-show classes” system (and that would be Rashad, an athlete whose 4.0 GPA at UNC was a piece of cake, and as curious a piece of cake as Alice ever nibbled). But again, not much give and take here.

With the recent extended comments of UNC Professor Jay Smith in response to other UNC athletes trashing McCants and his claims, we do begin to see a little back and forth, a little point counterpoint, a little taking of sides, so that the drama truly begins to look as though it’s about to take off. UNC and the NCAA will of course remain silent – except for mechanically generated platitudes and threats – throughout this drama; but Smith’s beautifully written response signals to UD that The Storming of Chapel Hill is well on its way to being publicly staged, with a script of which GB Shaw might be proud.

Smith’s response (quoted in full with his permission):

I’m struck by the profiles of those attacking Rashad McCants. On the one hand, you have old-timers spouting off about their experiences in the 1960s, ’70s or early ’80s. These people haven’t seen the inside of an academic support program in years, even decades. They don’t have a clue what the program was like in 2005. Yet they hurl their venom at McCants – a player who had the guts to share his transcript on television, and who also had the guts to buck the tide while he was at UNC [an offense against ‘the family’ for which he has never been forgiven].

On the other hand, you have more current players willfully deceiving gullible journalists – while carefully guarding their transcripts – because they don’t want to face reality and deal with the shame that the ‘Carolina way’ was no more than an illusion during their playing days. Antawn Jamison [who played at North Carolina from 1995-98] has the audacity to call McCants a clown? Someone needs to remind Jamison that [UNC-sanctioned special investigator] Ken Wainstein is actually looking at transcripts. Wainstein knows. And he’s going to be issuing a report.

Other people know, too, including some who are writing books. The truth is eventually going to come out. And we’ll see who’s wearing the dunce cap when this story is all said and done.

As for McCants’ refusal thus far to speak to the NCAA or UNC’s compliance officer … I can’t say that I blame him. Look at what UNC has done to him in the wake of his allegations. They slimed him, as they do everyone who dares to utter a critical word about the UNC athletic machine. Why would he want to sit down for a discussion with such people? [I suspect he sees Wainstein as just another agent of the University.] And the NCAA? McCants doesn’t care about doling out punishment or ‘making an example,’ which is all the NCAA ever does.

He wants to see the system change going forward. Neither UNC nor the NCAA has an interest in changing anything. This is why UNC will not acknowledge the truth of what McCants has said and it’s why the NCAA went to court last month to maintain the charade that football and basketball players are ‘students first.’ McCants, it seems to me, just has little interest in wasting his time.

When Roy Williams came here from Kansas, he brought with him the team academic counselor who had served him so well at Kansas: Wayne Walden. He regarded Walden as such a vital contributor to the good fortunes of his teams that he was practically moved to tears when Walden departed in 2009. Walden knew every detail about the academic lives of those players; he had to. He registered them for their courses, for crying out loud. [And that means he got on the phone with the Department of African and Afro-American Studies and he put them in paper classes.] Walden also spoke with Williams every day; he had to. Williams’ claim that he had no earthly idea that his players were floating along on paper classes – and that he never would have guessed that one of his stars was enrolled in four no-show classes in the spring of 2005 – is nothing more than a confidence trick. He’s counting on the customary journalistic favoritism, and journalists’ amazing lack of curiosity, to enable him to tell this whopper and walk away with his aura intact. We’ll see if that works.

Yes, things are heating up. Things are taking shape.

CLEAN-UP CREW, RING SIX!

When UD was a tyke, her mother, who bred dogs, took her to many dog shows up and down the east coast. Once, while her mother was gazing at handlers running English Cocker Spaniels round and round and round, UD wandered away and got lost. (What’s the definition of trauma if you grew up in Bethesda, Maryland? Getting lost at a dog show.)

The one thing UD took away from all those shows was a phrase she heard over and over again at them: CLEAN-UP CREW, RING ONE. Or two or whatever. UD seems to have been impressed that a group of people existed whose function was to rush about cleaning up dog shit.

With the soon to be infamous “muppet” letter published in today’s New York Times, corporate clean-up crews are pressing pooper scoopers into service all over the country. Let’s see if we can help them. Here’s the mess in the ring. Here’s what Brown University’s president, until very recently a highly paid member of the Goldman Sachs board of trustees, was in with.

Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.

Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet, five of the largest asset managers in the United States, and three of the most prominent sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia. My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence. [Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Nice bit of humor there.]

What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.

These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.

When I was a first-year analyst I didn’t know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out what a derivative was, understanding finance, getting to know our clients and what motivated them, learning how they defined success and what we could do to help them get there.

My proudest moments in life — getting a full scholarship to go from South Africa to Stanford University, being selected as a Rhodes Scholar national finalist, winning a bronze medal for table tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, known as the Jewish Olympics — have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts. Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore. [He’d actually have done better not to list the particular accomplishments – it edges toward boasting, and humility is the idea here.] [Update: See? A lot of people are having fun with this.]

I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer.

Hokay, so what’s corporate clean-up going to do?

Oh, you know.

So do I.

First, it’s going to impugn the guy. Secret resentments; he was close to retirement; he was increasingly irrelevant and he knew it so he thought he’d take a last potshot. (Damn! Traitors everywhere.)

And – if that’s how he feels, why did he stay so long? Cashing in baby, cashing in, just like everyone else! Do you know how much money he made last year? Twenty, fifty mil, maybe? If he’s so pure, we await his return of the cash…

Stuff like that.

And anyway! Muppets is a term of endearment.

***************************

Notice that one thing his conscience couldn’t take anymore was looking college students in the eye and telling them Goldman was a good place to work when he knew they weren’t exactly going to be turned into model citizens.

Well, he can stop worrying about that. These students come from universities whose boards of trustees and presidents have been in bed with Goldman and Goldman veterans for a long time. So…

Muppets of Barnard College! I give you your president, Debora Spar, Goldman Sachs board of trustees! Goldman will be giving her around $500,000 a year to do … pretty much what Brown University’s Ruth Simmons did. Pretty much nothing. Pretty much rubber stamp hundreds of millions in compensation each year for Goldman executives.

See, she’s a muppet too.

****************************************

Update:
Live-blogging the Muppet Show:

TO SAVE GOLDMAN SACHS, LLOYD BLANKFEIN MUST GO

shouts a headline that just appeared at Forbes.

B-b-but…! What happens to Barnard College in that case? The reason its president got on the Goldman board is that Blankfein’s wife – until recently herself a member of Barnard’s board – seems to have put her there.   This is from 2011:

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein’s wife, Laura, is a Barnard College alumna and is listed on the school’s website as a member of the board of trustees. She has resigned that post, Stephen Cohen, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, said today. The Lloyd & Laura Blankfein Foundation donated $50,000 to Barnard College in fiscal 2010, which ended Jan. 31, 2010, and $25,000 in the previous year, according to the nonprofit’s federal tax filings.

You put me on the Barnard BOT; I put you on the Goldman BOT. And look at those numbers, will you? Blankfein’s been making around fifty million dollars in compensation each year for many years. Can you believe he and his wife were willing to part with – let’s do the math – $75,000 for Barnard?  Who said greed?  Shut up about greed!

*************************

Favorite headline so far:

Goldman Sachs Exec Suddenly Realizes His Company Is Evil, Quits in NYT Op-Ed

*************************
G is for Goldman, it’s good enough for me!

Be proud, Barnard muppets, of your very own Cookie Monster!

The real muppets, in this story, are Goldman’s board members, who have never had any real control over how the company is run. And, frankly, never will. The most remunerative skill, at Goldman, is the ability to flatter someone into believing that they’re incredibly important and clever and sophisticated, even as you’re getting that person to do exactly what’s in your own best interest. No one rises to lead Goldman Sachs who doesn’t have that skill. And you can be sure that Lloyd Blankfein uses it on the board every time he meets with them.

**********************************

We promise it’ll never happen again: Andy Borowitz writes a Lloyd Blankfein response.

At Goldman, we pride ourselves on our ability to scour the world’s universities and business schools for the finest sociopaths money will buy. Once in our internship program, these youths are subjected to rigorous evaluations to root out even the slightest evidence of a soul. But, as the case of Mr. Smith shows, even the most time-tested system for detecting shreds of humanity can blow a gasket now and then. For that, we can only offer you our deepest apology and the reassurance that one good apple won’t spoil the whole bunch.

Alaska and Hawaii: Wave of the For-Profit Future

Alaska and Hawaii – already among the nation’s friendliest diploma mill states – are set to become the go-to places for the for-profit schools to set up business too.

More and more states, appalled by the scummy, exploitative methods of the for-profit tax siphons, are passing restrictive laws against them (UD‘s proud to say that her home state of Maryland has been one of the first to do this). As the list grows to include almost every state (forget waiting for the federal government to do anything), watch for Hawaii and Alaska to be the two hold-outs, corruption in those states being beyond your ability to imagine it so don’t try.

And watch, therefore, as all of the for-profits rush to those states to set up business — in close proximity to their diploma mill cousins.

University Diaries in The New Republic

UD‘s extremely proud to appear in the following first paragraph in an Anthony Grafton essay in The New Republic:

Morning, nowadays, means coffee and the Times, as it did for my parents. But it also means something they never experienced: a trip across the Web. Slipping from link to link, occasionally falling in and spending a few minutes in one place, I pass from TNR to NYRB to Bookforum, from Atrios to Steve Benen, from Easily Distracted to University Diaries to Tenured Radical to TigerHawk, from Historiann and Arts & Letters Daily to Cliopatria and Athens & Jerusalem, from Andrew Sullivan to Megan McArdle to Ta-Nehisi Coates—and, for perspective, to the obituaries in the Telegraph.

Talk about being in good company.

Tony’s reviewing Mary Beard‘s latest book — UD and Mary are longtime mutual blog admirers.

UD thanks her friend Christina for noticing the TNR essay.

Madoff’s University.

As we await Madoff’s sentencing today, we revisit unapologetically ill-run Yeshiva University.

[Many institutions connected to Madoff] not only need to more formally organize their investing and giving along more official corporate governance lines — Yeshiva University in particular has been cited for this type of needed reform. [T]hey may need to address their own unwitting complicity in the dissipation of the assets of Mr. Madoff’s victims.

Madoff, recall, was Yeshiva’s treasurer, Ezra Merkin an influential trustee. There’s been no public reckoning with this history on that campus, and conflict of interest remains the all-male board of trustees’ middle name.

Sure, Yeshiva lost money through Madoff. It also made plenty of money – for itself, and for its trustees. Yeshiva has said nothing by way of acknowledgement of the depth of its misdeeds.

**********************

Update: It’s also a good day to remember this letter, written last year to the president of Yeshiva from one of its law school graduates, Andrew Sole. Here are its closing paragraphs:

[H]arm has come to this distinguished University, both in financial loss and worse, in reputation. It is my view that the harm today is directly attributable to the failed performance of our trustees. As fiduciaries they lost sight of their primary mission, to safeguard the long-term interests of Yeshiva University. Whether their activities were merely negligent, or worse, that judgment is best left for others.

In my view it will take a generation to repair the damage inflicted upon Yeshiva. And that is very sad. But what would be even sadder, and which would also give grave concerns to Yeshiva’s many supporters, would be for the University to continue to allow the current Board of Trustees to serve as fiduciaries going forward.

The honorable course (and we have seen virtually no honorable behavior in American corporate boardrooms, nor in our public servants, in 2008) would be for the University’s President, and its legal counsel, Sullivan and Cromwell, to demand the immediate resignation of the entire Board of Trustees. The University’s counsel, government regulators, and law enforcement will conduct their proper investigations, but the proud students, graduates, and supporters of Yeshiva University should not have to wait that long for credible and therapeutic action to be taken by this University.

Yeshiva has the opportunity to begin the healing process today by installing new fiduciaries that are untainted by scandal and embarrassment. I hope you will take this letter to heart and I wish the University the best during these incredibly trying times.

Yeshiva responded to Sole with a form letter brush-off.

And all of those men, those hands-in-each-others’-pockets men, those Madoff and Merkin men, remain on the Yeshiva University board of trustees.

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories