11/2/2009 Selecting Trustees

Fact Checker here. √ The Chronicle has had many constructive suggestions about the Young Trustee process. Great!! Whether you agree or not, it's healthy to see issues brought into sharp focus.

When the Young Trustee election is over, I'd like to see the newspaper address the process for selection of the (adult) Trustees:

-- Behind closed doors, the self-perpetuating board selects candidates who have not revealed to us where they stand on any university issue.

--One name for each vacancy is submitted to the alumni who "elect" 12 Trustees and to the Methodist Church which "elects" 24. (Why the church, of all people, puts up with this subterfuge is beyond me.)

--After a six year term, the same people inevitably stand for re-election, never having reported back to their electors nor to any constituency other than themselves.

--We do not know how many meetings they attended or how they voted, if ever. Hell, we do not even know the Trustee meeting agenda or if the cryptic Summaries of Action that diligent Dukies like Fact Checker can ferret out are complete.

--We do not know if they filed secret Conflict of Interest Statements on pending issues. (We do get a peek two years later through Form 990, but just a peek.) It's only by accident that we found out that Bob Steel had a massive conflict of interest so that he could not perform a principal function of the chair, handling our investments thru Duke Management Company. Bob even had the chutzpah to stand for re-election knowing that he could fulfill this duty, mandated by the by-laws.

--Perhaps the chair of the Trustees can be asked to tie his pledge of "transparency," which so far he has a good job keeping, with these "elections."

-- Perhaps Mr Brodhead can review for The Chronicle what's done at other schools, including Yale. Surely his decades in the Ivy League exposed him to concepts like having three candidates for every vacancy, and open elections with every alum voting.

Meantime, all students should treasure the opportunity to participate in the selection of Young Trustees on the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is, sadly, the last time they will have such a voice in the governance of this institution.

√ Have a great day and let's get consecutive victory 4.

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