EDITORIAL: Nomination neglects needs of students
Board of Governors ought to include advocacy, education experience
The status quo is an apparent quid pro quo of donations for power. We have branded those who have accumulated wealth through the financial sector as ordained leaders that can be placed, regardless of context or institutional mission, in any position of any industry and produce success. Such an ideology requires marketization. Rutgers has become a business, that in turn fallaciously requires CEOs and those with financial backgrounds to fill leadership positions.
Rather than someone with a background in higher education, advocacy for students or public institutions, another billionaire and former Chief Operating Officer (COO) from the financial industry has been nominated for a seat on the Board of Governors. As The Daily Targum reported, Amy Towers, philanthropist and former COO of Glenview Capital Management, has garnered the nomination conspicuously soon after she and her husband had donated more than $5 million for a new athletic practice facility at Rutgers. Because donations can be made anonymously and not all donations are publicized, the full degree of donations made by Towers is unknown.
Members from the Rutgers faculty union are opposed to Tower’s nomination, claiming that it was a favor for the amount of money she has given to the football team at Rutgers, according to the Targum.
“Somebody who has been so useful in the sideshow is now promoted into running the place," said David Hughes, the vice president of the American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT). "That doesn’t make any sense to us.”
It is common for big donors to reap a reward for their generosity as they fill roles at Rutgers and other colleges, even if they hold little to no experience relating to higher education, according to NJ Advance Media.
Towers has experience with private investment funds and philanthropic endeavors, but there are fundamental gaps in the leadership of the Board of Governors. There is no reason to exclude individuals with experience that is based on interacting with college students and their professors. Within this context, an intersection of social work, public health, academia and education can and should coexist in our University’s leadership. If we are set to bend to the abrasive winds of corporate leadership, then there are still viable potential candidates among the CEOs of advocacy nonprofits and the heads of teacher unions.
“Giving money to the athletic program does not constitute expertise in higher education, and giving money to the athletic program does not actually help the primary mission of Rutgers at all," Hughes said.
Towers already holds influence at Rutgers beyond her donations through her position on the Board of Overseers. The additional nomination to the Board of Governors is unnecessary, as there remains no voting member that is faculty or part of a teacher union.
The primary, driving goal of a public institution of higher education must be based in academics. As such, leadership of the University should have experience that relates to academics, students and faculty. This does not inherently exclude CEOs of various industries.But, for Rutgers to uphold its commitment to the student body and community, it must have a majority of administrative officials and board members that hold an experiential understanding of the experience of students and members of academia.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.