After our earlier post today, Andrew Sole sent me his letter to Richard Joel regarding the Madoff and Merkin scandal. It is nuanced and respectful, not at all like what you'd imagine reading about in the NY Post (see my earlier blog entry).
He talks in the letter about his involvement with YU and makes a point to establish his bonafides as an alumnus and a major donor to the Law School.
Even then -- in the meat of his recommendation regarding the culpability of the board -- in this letter to Joel he maintains his menchlichkeit and respect. Here is how he concludes the letter:
...It is my view that the harm today is directly attributable to the failed performance of our trustees. As fiduciaries they lost sight of their primary mission, to safeguard the long-term interests of Yeshiva University. Whether their activities were merely negligent, or worse, that judgment is best left for others.
In my view it will take a generation to repair the damage inflicted upon Yeshiva. And that is very sad. But what would be even sadder, and which would also give grave concerns to Yeshiva’s many supporters, would be for the University to continue to allow the current Board of Trustees to serve as fiduciaries going forward.How do we view this? I'm a bit uncomfortable with the idea of blanket firings of the board -- and there's no way that will take place anyhow. I'm more uncomfortable that this letter was addressed to Richard Joel since he works for the board, they hired him. It would have better been addressed to the Chairman of the Board, but then asking him what? To dismiss himself? Now you see how the structure of our non-profits virtually guarantees that there is no path of accountability in a situation like this.
The honorable course (and we have seen virtually no honorable behavior in American corporate boardrooms, nor in our public servants, in 2008) would be for the University’s President, and its legal counsel, Sullivan and Cromwell, to demand the immediate resignation of the entire Board of Trustees. The University’s counsel, government regulators, and law enforcement will conduct their proper investigations, but the proud students, graduates, and supporters of Yeshiva University should not have to wait that long for credible and therapeutic action to be taken by this University.
Yeshiva has the opportunity to begin the healing process today by installing new fiduciaries that are untainted by scandal and embarrassment. I hope you will take this letter to heart and I wish the University the best during these incredibly trying times.
Andrew L. Sole
Lord knows what is going on across the country at colleges and universities as scandals and dramatic losses in endowments hit the proverbial fan.
We have our institutions set up so that letters from well-meaning people like Andrew and revelatory news stories and critical blog coverage will have no operative impact or effect on them.
As Dick Cheney would say, "So?"
So, some of the problems will end up resolved in the court system in one way or another. Some of the garbage will be covered over by a smooth layer of PR and we will build our lovely golf courses on top of the stinking heaps.