12/23/08

Times: Yeshiva University President Richard Joel Learns No Lesson From Madoff-Merkin Scandals


The Times came to YU to do a story titled, "Yeshiva U. Adds a Lesson on Madoff." And they reported that, "Yeshiva’s president, Richard M. Joel, declined to be interviewed for this story, as did the dean of the business school and members of the board of trustees."

The lesson that I learn from that fact is that these university managers are gripped by fear. Their fear follows several years during which they mainly reveled in the thralls of greed.

Greed and fear. Every money manager will tell you that those two emotions move the markets.

Richard Joel's greed was subtle but tangible. He could raise mega-millions for the endowment of his school, and be rewarded with compensation of close to $1 million a year, and reap an abundance of ego-enriching accolades for his visionary leadership.

Now he's feeling the emotional swing back to fear. He rightfully fears that he will be held responsible for escorting the gonovim into the board room. He and the dean and the other board members are responsible for fiduciary failures. They indeed may be held civilly culpable in a court of law. They may lose their jobs, their positions, their reputations. Not surprising that they are shut tighter than clams. The last thing they want is to be quoted in the New York Times speculating on what moral lessons we ought to learn from their fiasco.

We are certain that numerous lessons will unfold as time passes and as subtle and deep thinkers, like Norman Linzer, Shalom Carmy and their faculty colleagues at YU and elsewhere muster the courage to speak up and to speak out.

For now let me say that Richard and his ilk ought to have said to the Times that they brought the gonovim in to plunder the Yeshiva and for that they are sorry.

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