U of Washington regents accused of 'sham' presidential selection process
- University of Washington trustees are under fire after an advocacy group has filed a lawsuit alleging the board violated open meeting laws in its selection of new president, Ana Mari Cauce last fall. The suit alleges Cauce's hiring is the latest in a culture of secret governance actions taken by the board.
- Penalties for violating open meeting statutes could mean individual fines for board members up to $500; a minor deterrent that some say doesn't go far enough in preventing corruption or secrecy in governance.
- Covert board actions are part of a growing narrative in higher education, calling into question the financial and political motivations surrounding members and their decision-making.
Trustees who believe that politics and affluence can protect them from scrutiny and punishment may be correct, but the same protections won't be available to the institutions they are charged with serving.
The federal government recently took the unprecedented step of threatening to withhold federal aid to a college because of a controversial board member; a precedent that, in tandem with increasing inquiry about endowment management, could make board controversies more vulnerable to adverse policy making from the Department of Education.