… know everything, and those who know nothing and want to know nothing. Those who know everything are a small group of insiders extremely close to the president and the coach and local politicians. They do the president’s bidding. Those who know nothing and want to know nothing have a spotty attendance record at trustee meetings (why go?) but get a huge kick out of being able to say they’re a university trustee.

Auburn University’s board of trustees is instructive. For decades, ex-trustee Bobby Lowder basically ran the school – academics (intellectual inquiry at Auburn centers around figuring out how professors can help athletes cheat without the athletes getting caught) and sports. A power-obsessed, corrupt mover and shaker, Lowder typifies the broad-shouldered bullies who can intimidate and take over boards of trustees.

When the shit hits the fan at universities, unseemly blame-tossing almost always breaks out on BOTs — between members who’ve been meaningless muckety mucks, and the power boys. Recall the panic in AU Park when its president turned out to be robbing the school blind. In that case it was William Jacobs, strapping head of the BOT, who withheld information and shooed trustees away from his endless shoveling of money to Benjamin Ladner. When the American University story broke, the know-nothings moaned that they’d been blindsided.

Same thing at Pederasty State.

The trustees dislike how a few board members appeared to have been notified that charges against Curley and Schultz were imminent while the vast majority of trustees were left in the dark until Saturday.

Yes, and that’s in a big old article all about how we’re supposed to pity and admire the principled trustees… the good trustees, who got all beat up by the big boys…

No. When these things happen, the entire board of trustees has got to go. They are trustees, kids. The university is in their trust. They either didn’t do anything, or they worked as hard as all the other Paterno-tools to cover up things.

University trustees are, in UD‘s experience, either a nothingness or an embarrassment. Or both.

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3 Responses to “Most university boards of trustees are divided up between those who …”

  1. MattF Says:

    On the other hand, they are honorable… all honorable men.

  2. Anonymous Troll Says:

    What would your criteria be for improving trustee rule? In other words, to return it to its set purpose? Or do you think colleges should move to a completely different model.

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Anonymous: I like the trustee model. I wouldn’t toss out the model. But some things have to change before trustees actually accept the trust that’s been placed in them. Here, for example, is one thing:

    The more provincial, anti-intellectual, and sports-obsessed the university, the more it needs to work hard to find at least some trustees outside the rah-rah circle of that school. One entire very rancid category of BOT is the tight good old boys network (a quarter of Auburn’s trustees are ex-Auburn football players). When you try to explain to schools like this that they need an entirely different approach to taking care of their school, they will get very very eloquent and very very emotional about the school’s deep honorable very specific traditions and explain to you that no one outside of that long honorable history with its complex manifold customs can hope to understand the school, etc. But of course this is just the problem. Penn State, Auburn — all the worst cases have this pathetic hypertrophic loyalty to some Happy Valley story or other. I don’t mean to be cynical – plenty of schools have plenty of traditions about which to be proud. But there’s a difference between honoring your traditions and becoming a sick self-aggrandizing subculture.

    On the other side of this deep-rooted subculture there’s the bright shiny nouveau-riche school with its BOT composed almost exclusively of the richest people the school could get to agree to be on the board. Take (Goldman Sachs trustee) Ruth Simmons’ Brown – places like Brown go off half-cocked in search of hedgies and end up dealing with one scandal after another as the hedgies get in insider trading and other legal trouble. UD is perfectly sympathetic to the financial thinking behind priming a person worth three billion dollars with a board appointment. What’s a few hundred million to such a person? But whether it’s loyalty (see first paragraph) or money, these are obviously corrupting influences.

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