Saturday, January 30, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: Suffolk University Spat

Globe started it?

"Could Martha Coakley be Suffolk’s next president?" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  January 29, 2016

Suffolk University president Margaret McKenna, whose short tenure has been marked by tumultuous relations with the school’s governing board, has been told privately that the board has the votes to fire her if it chooses and has been asked to resign, according to a person close to the university.

Has anyone mentioned such a thing at 1600 Pennsylvania?

At the same time, the board is in negotiations with former state attorney general Martha Coakley to take over as president, according to the same person, and confirmed by a second person briefed on the developments.

McKenna, reached late Thursday evening, denied she is being forced out.

The board of trustees has taken no formal vote to oust McKenna, and the school has not finalized any deal with Coakley, according to both people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing negotiations.

But such an abrupt change, just seven months after McKenna’s appointment, would mark yet another bump in the road for the school, which has suffered from a revolving door of presidents since longtime leader David Sargent retired abruptly in 2010 amid outrage over his lavish pay, which totaled $2.8 million in the 2006-07 academic year. McKenna is the school’s fourth leader in five years.

She didn't even have time for orientation.

Asked how McKenna responded, the person close to the university said, “She hasn’t yet.”

Coakley did not immediately return three calls for comment Thursday.

The state’s first female attorney general, Coakley held the position from 2007 to 2015 and emerged as a national leader on the foreclosure epidemic, wrangling some $900 million in settlements from lenders and investment banks that fueled the subprime mortgage crisis.

She also cracked down on for-profit colleges, won major settlements with pharmaceutical companies that engaged in Medicaid fraud, and helped push a tough domestic violence bill through the state Legislature. In addition, she famously filed an early challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

I'm wondering what other secrets she knows so that she mu$t be taken care of in this way.

But Coakley also gained a reputation as a poor campaigner in her failed bid for the Senate in 2010, when she suffered a humiliating defeat to Republican Scott Brown, and in 2014, when she lost a close gubernatorial election to Charlie Baker.

This presidential election is only amongst a handful of people.


Does that mean she will have to give up the job at BU? 

I'll bet $uffolk pays more.

"Suffolk president says she will not resign" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  January 29, 2016

Suffolk University president Margaret McKenna vowed Friday that she would not yield to trustees’ pressure to step down, even as the board chairman sent McKenna a terse letter warning her against campaigning to keep her job.

She wants to deliver this year's commencement address.

The unusually public standoff will likely come to a head next week when the board of trustees votes whether to fire McKenna after a mere seven months at the helm. People close to the board said trustees were in talks with former state attorney general Martha Coakley to take over as president.

As McKenna’s job seemed to be in question, faculty, students, and alumni sprang to her defense. They focused their anger at trustees, who critics said have been allowed to micromanage the downtown school with little accountability or concern for its best interest.

The student government association plans to take a vote of no confidence in Meyer, the chairman of the board of trustees, and call for him to step down next week. The faculty senate took a vote of “deep and sincere” confidence in McKenna on Friday.

Many students and professors called the board’s move to oust McKenna the last straw in trustees’ failed track record to resurrect the troubled school. They pointed out that McKenna is Suffolk’s fifth president in five years and the first whom they considered truly capable of improving the college.

“This has a lot more to do with the problems with the chairman of the board than with any of the presidents,” said Matthew W. Jerram, a psychology professor who has taught at Suffolk for 11 years.

Students and professors don’t agree with all the changes McKenna has announced but said she has their respect.

“President McKenna has been nothing but a godsend,” said Suffolk senior Victoria Ireton. “We need stability at Suffolk University, and she has brought that to us.”

McKenna started in July knowing the job would be tough. The college has a small endowment and lacks direction because of its revolving door of presidents since 2010, when longtime leader David Sargent retired abruptly amid outrage over his lavish pay, which totaled $2.8 million in the 2006-07 academic year.

As support for McKenna galvanized on campus Friday, and the hashtag #SUStandsWithMcKenna blossomed on social media, the standoff between her and the board intensified.

The board’s chairman, Andrew Meyer, and Mark E. Sullivan, chairman of the search committee that chose McKenna, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the president instructing her not to use “university resources” to attempt to sway board members in her favor. It is not clear whether the letter was in response to the e-mail McKenna sent the same day to faculty.

In the midst of the furor, Coakley remained silent on whether she is indeed considering the job. The unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor and US Senate did not return multiple calls for comment Thursday and Friday.

In 2011, when Coakley was attorney general, her office found that the University of Massachusetts board of trustees repeatedly violated the state’s Open Meeting Law during its search for a new president.

On Friday, Suffolk University students criticized the board for the same type of secrecy in its apparent courting of Coakley as McKenna’s successor, even though Suffolk is a private school and not subject to open meeting laws.

“To use this route instead of dialogue is just absolutely disheartening and quite frankly, childish,” said Colin Loiselle, a senior and student government president. “In the past, nobody has challenged [the board] and now we know why, because when you do, this is what happens.”

Other students also gave examples of how they said board members meddle in daily operations at Suffolk while simultaneously lacking an understanding of the school.

Former student government president Tyler LeBlanc recalled that the board insisted in controlling details as small as the time and location of a student group fair.

“They want their hands in everything, but they don’t understand the things they’re micromanaging,” LeBlanc said.

Just like the U.S. Congre$$.


Her problem? 

She had an optimistic, but  “antagonistic” style. 

So whose toes did she step on and what did she discover prowling around?

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Suffolk trustees criticize president on spending, style 

I haven't read the article (or any of the Globe today) and its looking increasingly unlikely that I will. 

What a pos.

Also see: 

Under-fire Suffolk University president challenges trustees

Suffolk University’s board taking a PR hit

Suffolk University board needs to look at itself 

I love the hypocrisy from on high considering their ongoing delivery woes. 

I have no dog in this fight, and couldn't really care any less.