- Former Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors Chairman Fred Conley has resigned from the board after the Department of Education threatened to withhold student financial aid in response to his continuing service.
- Conley resigned as chairman after failing to disclose a conflict of interest with his membership on the Omaha Housing Authority Board.
- The dismissal is one of the most aggressive acts of federal intervention in college leadership in recent years.
There is dangerous precedent in the federal government establishing standards to remove or influence board composition tied to other areas of government jurisprudence. While Conley's ouster was directly tied to action concerning his dealings with federal housing, could other board members who hold federal office, or work to secure federal contracts, one day see similar forced dismissals?
This decision was directly tied to conflicts of interest, an ironic stance from the DOE given the allowances it will provide for a close associate of President Barack Obama in his efforts to purchase a struggling for-profit institution. College boards with elected officials, business people and civic servants should take a closer view at the potential trouble which can be caused for schools by outside employment or interests.