Friday, October 4, 2013

Administrative Corruption, part 6...


Administrative Corruption, Part 6: Another President

By Professor Doom

 

      “Generally speaking, a million dollar president could be kidnapped by aliens and it would be weeks or even months before his absence from campus would even be noticed.”

 

      --Benjamin Ginsberg

 

     Many faculty can’t help but notice that the upper echelon of administration seem to be completely irrelevant to student education. Although the president’s salary can represent, on a per-student basis, hundreds of dollars of tuition for a student (at one institution I was at, it represented the majority of tuition money, since the institution survived only via government support), the only purpose, at best, of a president is to shake the student’s hand at graduation.

     Despite the tremendous amount of money pointlessly shoveled at these guys, it’s never enough, they never seem to get enough money to just allow institutions of higher education to concentrate on their real mission of education and research.

     Today’s example is Roy Johnson, Chancellor of Alabama’s Community college system (this puts him above the chancellors at each institution; the bureaucracy is titanic in higher education, by the way, as I learned when my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss actually showed up on campus one day, to much excitement). Johnson exploited the huge potential for corruption in higher education, by insisting on kickbacks in exchange for contracts with the institutions under his reign.

     As is always the case in these situations, it’s not just one infraction leading to problems, like it is for faculty. Instead, it’s a ridiculous number of infractions. Some 43 legislators, their relatives, and contacts received contracts and “high pay for doing nothing” administrative jobs in the community college system. Now, I grant that maybe I wouldn’t notice when a fleet of incompetent administrators took over another building, but others might have, so I imagine there were only hundreds of complaints at the institutions that had to support this, all easily explained away.

     Johnson’s ex-wife, his children, and their spouses also received bogus high paying administrative jobs. A faculty member that tries to help his spouse in higher education is punished immediately, and we’re forced to attend training meetings explaining what a “relative” is and how we can’t do business with them in any way…how did it happen that so many of his close relatives got these positions without a complaint?

     The long awaited investigation revealed close to $20 million in kickbacks to him (not counting similar payments to his relatives); he plea bargained down to 6 years in prison, and had to pay another $2 million in fines.

     As a bonus, as though he needed more than the $18 million he netted, he’ll get to keep his $132,000 a year pension while in prison, for his years of “service.” For what it’s worth, my over 20 years of service merits nearly $3,000 a year for my pension. I let the reader decide which of us helped more students.

     I mentioned Dean Chang before, but I think it fair to also discuss her boss, the Reverend Donald Harrington at St. John’s. Like so many other administrators there, he accepted “gifts” from Dean Chang, and it’s fair to guess a few envelopes of $100 bills came his way. In addition, he sponsored no-interest loans from the institution to his friends, and admitted to “living large” on trips with Dean Chang. I again point out: he “lived large” for years with none able to say something was odd about a Reverend doing so.

     Lest one think that such corruption would prevent getting another, similar job, I give the example of Eli Capilouto, who became president of University of Kentucky in 2011. His previous position was Chief Academic Officer at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

 

     More than 100 similar cases within UAB were ignored by Bush officials.

 

--from the linked article. The amount of fraud suggested here is staggering.

 

     While he was  there, UAB was subject to two whistleblower lawsuits involving research fraud, for $600 million. While those were settled for a few million, UAB also faced charges of major financial mismanagement and fraud involving Medicare, Medicaid, and the NIH, among others. Considering how much of this occurred directly under Capilouto’s nose, it’s fair to consider the possibility he was complicit in at least some of it. As is always the case, the fraud took place over many years (more than a decade) of Capilouto’s watch. Granted, Capilouto never faced charges for any of this…but if he is completely innocent, one must wonder at the trustees who would hire someone who can’t notice so many hundreds of millions of dollars of fraudulent activity. Is this the guy you would want watching your finances?

     The fraud is really amazing, and while I’ve mentioned only the most outrageous acts--I haven’t really discussed the Sandusky Affair in the last six essays, much less the intense corruption of college football--that are known, there are far more insidious forms of fraud going on every day, above and beyond the “tricking people into taking on debt for bogus degrees” scam that is core to even non-profit state institutions today.

     It’s time to take a look at tuition, where we can see some of the effects of the fraud. Until then, the reader should consider: how much of student tuition should go to administration instead of for education? Hint: in times past, it was but a few percent, but it’s “a little” more now.

 

Think about it.