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Socially conscious Brown University has a problem.

Its richest, highest-profile trustee, Steven Cohen, has just been sued by the SEC for failure to respond to insider trading at his hedge fund. Despite the personal fortune of nine or so billion dollars on which Cohen can draw in his defense, chances are good that he will be banned from the securities industry.

Brown has already had to deal, recently, with a crooked trustee. Brown’s last president notoriously signed off on Lloyd Blankfein’s 2007 Goldman Sachs bonus of $68 million.

Does Brown wish to be a laughingstock? The sort of place fronted by people full of high-minded rhetoric about the social good, and run by people whose greed – and collusion in greed – knows no bounds?

How long will Steven Cohen continue to be a Brown University trustee?

Margaret Soltan, July 19, 2013 3:28PM
Posted in: code brown

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2 Responses to “Socially conscious Brown University has a problem.”

  1. Robert Mathiesen Says:

    During my 40 years as an active member of the Brown faculty I had many opportunities to chat casually with individual members of Brown’s Corporation. On two occasions, not close together in time, two separate trustees responded to something I had questioned by informing me that, by virtue of its Royal charter from King George III (1764), Brown was truly above the law, whether state or federal, within the United States, since the authority and power of the Crown in matters of education passed neither to the state of Rhode Island nor to the Federal Government upon the United States’ Declaration of Independence. Therefore Brown University could do anything it liked without fear of any punishment under the law.

    The first time I heard this I dismissed it as the ravings of one individual, The second time I heard it, I concluded that it was an eccentric part of the institutional culture within the University’s Corporation, the sort of thing trustees tell one another in private circumstances until most of them believe it.

  2. Robert Mathiesen Says:

    I accidentally hit post too soon. I meant to add in conclusion:

    I’m not sure how widespread this belief is among Brown’s Corporation, or whether the Trustees or Overseers of other pre-revolutionary universities in the United States hold similar views. But it does seem to me to go a long way to explaining the sort of thing you write about in your blog.

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