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Ceausescu-Style Governance at Suffolk Provokes Revolution

UD doesn’t see too many of these — American universities run by secretive, all-powerful presidents and their business cronies on the board of trustees.

At Suffolk University, the president sits in his counting house and refuses interviews, while his minions on the board, to whom he throws lucrative university contracts, give him so much salary that he’s now got the highest presidential compensation in the country.

Like their models, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, the president and the chair of the board of trustees of this university live in a world of personal fantasy in which the little people love them and all of their ways.

Lately, though, Suffolk’s leaders seem headed for the same fate as the Genius of the Carpathians.

Faculty dissent is bubbling up across Suffolk University, weeks after the furor over its president’s $1.5 million compensation – more than four times the national average for top college administrators – thrust the school into the national spotlight.

More than 70 percent of the law school faculty approved a motion during Thursday’s faculty meeting raising questions about the way the university is governed. The motion, relayed to the college’s board of trustees, expressed concern that President David Sargent’s “excessive’’ compensation has demoralized students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The negative publicity over the pay package, they said, had harmed the Beacon Hill school’s reputation and its ability to raise money and attract strong applicants, criticism that the board chairman says is unfair and has dealt “a hell of a blow to Sargent.’’

Professors in Suffolk’s business school, the college of arts and sciences, and school of art and design have also begun to complain, according to several faculty members…

It is the first time in the school’s recent history that such a wide swath of the school faculty have openly questioned the way the university is run and its direction, a move one longtime professor likened to “children finally acting out, standing up to the parent.’’

… Suffolk froze faculty pay and raised student fees this year, while Sargent, who has declined multiple requests to be interviewed, continues to make more than his peers at some of the country’s more prestigious universities.

The chair of the trustees is playing the Elena role to perfection, defending his beloved, dumping on know-nothing critics…

“How many times do we have to go through this thing?… This guy is gold. He’s done everything for the school… I’d like to know how many people [He’s talking about the school’s professors.] examined this contract and are sophisticated enough to understand what’s in it.” … No written contract was presented to the board, and members were not given advance notice on the agenda… “They wanted to talk about it for 30,000 hours, but if you know Nick Macaronis, I don’t do that. I make decisions on the spot… Are you aware that I have donated a million and a half dollars to Suffolk? And this is not just pledged. Donated…’’


Sometimes nothing less than a revolution will do.

Margaret Soltan, December 5, 2009 5:42AM
Posted in: trustees trashing the place

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3 Responses to “Ceausescu-Style Governance at Suffolk Provokes Revolution”

  1. Brad Says:

    Sorry, 3rd post…

    To get information about Suffolk U from an insider perspective, the things to do are (1) go to guidestar.org and download their tax report (I think it’s called a 990) and (2) go to emma (http://emma.msrb.org/SecurityView/SecurityDetails.aspx?cusip=57586EMV0) and download their municipal bond "official statement."

  2. RJO Says:

    I’m gonna guess that getting the law school faculty mad is probably not a good idea.

  3. University Diaries » What Marx Called the Idiocy of Rural Life… Says:

    […] of these village idiots aren’t in rural settings at all – echt-provincial Suffolk University (Boston), St. John’s University (New York), Yeshiva University (New York), and St. Louis […]

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