Pablo Eisenberg, a hero of this blog (UD has forever shrieked at super-icky moneybags who give their hundreds of millions to Harvard), has died.
(By the way — Harvard’s current endowment woes – it has only just reached 53.2 billion dollars – have energized its alumni network to organize a massive, unprecedented, Save Our School campaign, with outreach via Go Fund Me pages in addition to traditional methods. “Our rainy day fund is down to 10.5 billion,” warns Sam Bankman-Fried, an MIT grad who nonetheless accepted a position as head of Harvard fund-raising because “Harvard is the lifeblood of Cambridge; when it goes, the city itself is imperiled.”)
And as to how to convince people who give their money to Ivy League schools, rather than to the sort of places Eisenberg lists in my headline, to redirect their money… Well, you need to understand the cohort you’re talking about, first of all.
Let’s consider, for example, billionaire investor Marc Wolpow, who gives money to fat cat Wharton. What do we know about Marc?
Here’s our most recent information.
The wealthy head of [a] multi-billion dollar private equity firm is under investigation by Nantucket Police and the state Environmental Police for purposefully untying a 32-foot boat from a slip at Old North Wharf, allowing it to drift out of the Easy Street Basin and into the ferry lane.
The suspect is Marc Wolpow, the co-CEO and co-founder of the The Audax Group, who allegedly found an unknown boat in the slip he uses on Old North Wharf on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 16…
After Wolpow untied it, the boat drifted dangerously past Steamboat Wharf, got pushed northward in the wash of the car ferry the M/V Woods Hole, then collided with the $5 million, 70-foot Viking sportfishing boat “El Jefe” causing damage to that vessel. It eventually ran aground near 22 Easton Street.
Reached by phone this week, Wolpow declined to comment.
Here’s what’s shocking about this story:
1 Just anyone reached Wolpow by phone.
2 Wolpow declined to comment.
Why allow just anyone to get past your protection squad and reach you by phone? That’s nuts.
Even more bizarre is Wolpow’s refusal to say the obvious about his behavior.
Heard of property rights, asshole? [“Asshole” here refers to the person who got through to Wolpow’s phone.] It’s my fucking slip, I own it, and I don’t have to look at some cheap shitty boat some person decided to put in it. Do you think I want Nantucket boat owners to think I have a cheap shitty boat? It’s my right to do whatever I like to cheap shitty boats and I think the fucker who put it in my slip will think twice before he does it again. Oh, and fuck you for calling me.
Getting a person of this sort (Marc Kasowitz, Howard Marks, Vinod Khosla, Noam Gottesman, the Heliport Guys, stop me when you’ve had enough) to give money to what he inevitably is going to consider cheap shitty recipients will be very difficult indeed.
The president of Brown University, who for ten years has been a director at Goldman Sachs, issues a no-comment in response to the university’s newspaper.
Simmons wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that it would not be appropriate for her to comment on the situation at this time.
Why is it inappropriate for a director of a company to say something in response to government charges of fraud against it? Did the students ask Simmons whether she supports the company’s press release expressing outrage at the charges and vowing to defend its honor? Does she disagree with that statement? As a director, didn’t she have to review and vet it?
What’s inappropriate is for a leader of a university and a corporation to say nothing to both sets of her constituents (students, stockholders) when the attention of the world is focused on a claim of illegal behavior for which, as a director of the company, she may have to take some responsibility.
At the very least, Simmons needed to confirm her support for Goldman’s official statement in response to the charges. She is a Goldman official. She represents the company.
A University of Maryland law professor comments in the New York Times:
[What’s particularly] galling is the constant refrain from both Wall Street C.E.O.s and former regulators that no one could have predicted the [housing] crisis. However, the S.E.C. allegations are premised on the fact that hedge funds and Goldman Sachs itself were so convinced of cataclysmic failure that they were looking for investment vehicles that would profit each time a homeowner defaulted on his or her mortgage.
In other words, there were competent and smart people making billions because they could foresee the obvious: people with poor credit would not be able to repay their home loans.
In short, it was not that no one knew…
What did Ruth Simmons know?
Did she – as she will eventually say – know nothing?
Then why was she a director of Goldman Sachs? Why did GS pay her many millions of dollars for being a Goldman Sachs director? For ten years?
Another commentator at the NYT asks:
Why have there been no criminal charges? Why did the S.E.C. only name a relatively low-level Goldman officer in its complaint?
Ruth Simmons is a very high-ranking Goldman officer. Eventual criminal, not merely civil, charges will surprise no one. I’d say Brown University needs to start asking itself whether it has a president able to give the campus her full attention.
Or whatever partial attention she’s been giving it. As Pablo Eisenberg asks:
Did it not concern the Brown board that its president was [until recently] spending an inordinate amount of time and attention helping to direct and oversee three major corporations at a time when universities and colleges are themselves under increased financial stress, experiencing a crisis in financial aid and facing serious questions about systemic faculty and staff inequities?
One of the corporations she continues to oversee is now in very serious legal trouble. Through omission or commission, Simmons helped get it there. What is she going to do about that? What is going to happen to her because of that?
Simmons isn’t the only Goldman Sachs director suddenly struck silent.
William W. George, a Harvard Business School professor who has served on Goldman Sachs’s board since 2002, referred a request for an interview to the company’s press office. His Twitter account, which lauded JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon for his firm’s better-than-expected earnings on April 14, remained silent on the controversy surrounding Goldman Sachs.
George is the author of 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis.
Lesson #1: RUN CRYING TO THE COMPANY’S PRESS OFFICE
Aunt Voula captures the problem of for-profit non-profits. Just as she doesn’t realize that lamb is meat, for-profit non-profits don’t realize that profit is profit, and therefore that profiting from running a non-profit organization makes it not not-for-profit. If you catch my drift.
This very category confusion (for-profit / not-for-profit) has tripped up the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a putative non-profit long run for the personal profit of its director. Le tout Dallas is shocked and offended that the director has now been forced out and forced “to repay the medical center for every cent of his inappropriate spending.” How dare taxpayers humiliate this man by prying their money out of his hands!