Sunday, August 1, 2010

Corporations Own Our Country Including Our Universities

A NYTimes article yesterday uncovered connections between some of the top public and private universities in the country and corporations such as Nike, BP, and Goldman Sachs. Yes, it is very likely that your tuition dollars (and student loans) are indirectly paying people responsible for our country’s economic collapse and the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history as well as corporations with well-known human rights violations in developing nations.

The article states a 2008 survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education that revealed presidents from 19 of the top 40 research universities with the largest operating budgets sat on at least one company board. The American Council on Education says that from 2001 to 2006, the proportion of presidents from all doctorate-granting institutions sitting on corporate boards rose to 52.1 percent from 47.8 percent at public institutions, and to 50.9 percent from 40.6 percent at private ones.

Does this really come as a surprise to anyone? From rising tuition costs to forcing students to buy $200 textbooks written by their professors and deals with corporations such as Gatorade and Nike, the American university is focused more on the next money making project rather than focusing on how to lower tuitions costs or improve teaching and classroom education.

Corporations have also used the American university to fill their predominantly white male boards with a few token minorities and women presidents from top universities, thereby killing two birds with one stone. They can “diversify” their corporate board and at the same time infiltrate prestigious universities to sell their products through money hungry academics. Here are a few examples of academics making millions of dollars from a few hours of “work” each month on a corporate board and as a university president.

Ruth J. Simmons, the president of Brown University and the first African-American woman to lead an Ivy League university, sat on the Goldman Sachs board until she stepped down this year. In 2009, she earned $323,539 from her Goldman directorship, including stock grants and options, as calculated by Goldman, and left the board with stock worth at the time around $4.3 million. This is in addition to her salary from Brown, $576,000 this year.

Dr. Jackson earned $1.38 million from her directorships, comprising both cash and stock. That’s in addition to $1.6 million from her day job, including bonuses and other benefits.

Phyllis M. Wise, the provost of the University of Washington, is on Nike’s board. Nike said it hired Dr. Wise, an Asian-American, “because of her impressive accomplishments and her record of independent thought, and we believe that through the exchange of ideas, both Nike and the University of Washington will benefit.”

Erroll B. Davis Jr., chancellor of the University System of Georgia, was on the BP board for 12 years, though he stepped down in April, just days before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, causing the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. His retirement, however, wasn’t enough to protect him from being named, along with other directors, in a small number of lawsuits filed against BP over the disaster.

John Gillespie, who has written a book on corporate boards, “Money for Nothing,” says academics are often selected for another reason — because they are less likely to rock the boat than directors from the business world.

Academics may be trained to ask tough questions in their own fields, but when confronted with tricky business issues far above their level of expertise they “often become as meek as church mice,” he says.

The worst part of all of this is how these so-called academics hide their corporate lies, academic dishonesty, and swindling of millions from innocent student under the guise of promoting “education” . Advertising is a huge, unavoidable part of our lives in the 21st century. We have advertisements on BIDER where Angel and I make an average of thirty cents per day. We sometimes advertise products we like if the company is willing to provide products for review and to give away without any monetary compensation. Whoopty-doo. The difference is that Angel and I aren’t charging our readers $40,000 each year to read our articles, buy us a seat on the board of Nike to advertise Nike products on BIDER, ban anyone who criticizes Nike, and call it education.

See what is going on here? Dr. Wise makes $559,000 yearly as president of the University of Washington as well as $50,000 in cash and $70,000 in stock options from Nike. In return, Nike pays the university around $110,000 a year for the right to sell Washington shirts and gives $35 million in cash and athletic equipment to the university over 10 years. After some criticism, Dr. Wise says she will donate her income from Nike (I’m assuming only the $50,000 in cash and not the stock options or whatever else she makes that goes towards her $559,000 salary) to student scholarships. Fifty thousand is only a drop in the scholarship fund coffer that will undoubtedly go towards scamming more students into handing over $100k to the university – and Nike – over the course of four years. Who are these university administrators trying to fool? It’s appalling.
This is what Ms. Wise had to say in defense of her deals with Nike and the University of Washington:

“Many years ago, academicians tended to be dreamers,” she says. “We assumed somebody else would figure out where the money was going to come from. That notion is no longer the case.”

As for what she brings to Nike, she says, “I know a little bit how students think, what might drive their desire to look into Nike products.”

Wow. Well, at least she’s not trying to hide the fact that being an academic no longer has anything to do with caring about students’ education and everything to do with what kind of shoes university officials can convince students to buy from the school bookstore. You know what? I think college educated parents should be able to home school their young adult children to get their BA from now on because colleges have become a ridiculous, insanely expensive joke. When will the madness end?


  1. Yes, do not be fooled just because a university is organized as a not-for-profit institution. That only speaks to its governance structure. The trustees at the top are making off like bandits.

    Have you seen one of George Carlin's last comic routines? It's the one where he says, "the American Dream is just a dream. You have to be asleep to believe it."

  2. They only complain about the health care system because they can scapegoat a party, the general public blames lawyers for medical costs. The argument is that every lawyer is driving a gold mercedes benz from their gold house, because the poor doctors get sued for everything.

    Of course that's baloney, the average shit law PI attorney makes maybe $40-60k a year and wears a ratty old blazer and drives a death crate to court everyday. But that's not what the American public wants to believe. Doctors are a very powerful group, and like the higher education industry, have great media and lobbying power.

    I suspect the higher education industry, if it gets backed into a corner, will find a way to blame lawyers too.

  3. We are moving from a democratic republic to corporate feudal governance. We're now determining corporate over-lord ranking and thereafter who you will serve as a vassel to the larger corporate interest.

  4. Boomer liberals rock!!!

  5. Everything is corporate. Just look at the non-profit world, and not just universities. These pigs are ever hungry for more money and contributions. The directors of such non-profits often make well into six figures. It is disgraceful.

    As far as universities allowing their "academics" to take corporate positions, it makes $en$e. Just look at collegiate athletics. It is all about the money. Look at how many university building and "professorships" are named after SERIOUS businessmen and/or corporations, i.e. "the Merrill Lynch Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at Greed University."

    Ruth Simmons is in a federal lawsuit appearing as if she may have gone too far to protect one of her Corporate funders. This case has appeared in most of the major presses in the U.S. needs more attention. Simmons announced resignation from Goldman Sachs just weeks before the above lawsuit and the Goldman Sachs housing fiasco became public, April '10.

  7. In discussing the BP oil spill on our blog, someone commented that “responsibility” requires that a corporation tell the truth. Out of curiosity, should a corporation tell the truth when it would help plaintiffs in lawsuits against the corporation recover more damages which would adversely affect the corporation’s bottom line, or is this an instance where lying is justified?



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