In November 2016, The Chronicle of Higher Education will mark its 50th anniversary. To lead up to the occasion, we’ve chosen front pages featuring some of our reporting on key events in higher education and capturing the zeitgeist of the nation’s colleges and universities over the years.
What happens when a trustee also has a business relationship with the college? Is the primary loyalty to the college or to the trustee’s own business? A Chronicle investigation of 618 private colleges found that one in four had financial ties with trustee-affiliated businesses — banks, law firms, construction companies — ranging up to multimillion-dollar contracts. Most of the governing boards had conflict-of-interest policies, but they, too, varied — from a 56-page primer at Washington and Lee University to boilerplate language that amounted to "trust us." If nothing else, said one former board chairman, there can be "an optics problem."