And so it is with the University of Akron Trustees who are now uncomfortably stranded on an academic island with board member Atty. Jack Morrison. "It's a real conundrum," a trustee told me, sort of apologetically, "not only for the board but for the University's reputation as well."
Well, at this point my advice to the trustees is, Get used to it. Jack Morrison isn't listening to appeals that he step down from the board. However, he did give up his chairmanship of the finance, fiscal policy and investment committee.
Should you need a little more information on this fellow, whose case has been rehashed in the media more than once, he is under indictment for seven misdemeanors on ethics charges involving his alleged interest in his son's purchase of property on land the University had intended to buy around a new football stadium. Let's get more specific:
According to a response to Morrison's lawyer for continuances on pretrial and trial dates, the bipartisan Ohio Ethics Commission investigation has advised the court of the paper trail turned up by its lawyers that revealed much more than Morrison has been willing to admit.
"Since 2005," the Commission lawyers wrote, "defendant has provided his son and/or Braymor Development (his son's development company) with a total investment of at least $156,400 to support his son's real estate ventures in the University area..."
There's more in the same document:
- The son, Jack, Jr. "began buying property in the University of Akron area on Dec. 29, 2005."
- By June 2007, he owned 19 properties in the University area. By February 2008, he owned "24 worth nearly $1 million."
- Finally, Dad never revealed that he had "an overall and continuing series of investments in his son's property acquisition and rehabilitation business over more than two years."
- Had enough? And so there is an old house still standing near the new stadium that UA had offered to buy for $75,000 but is frozen in place as the five- month-old case drags on. The least that Morrison could do is to respect the sensitivities of the University and his fellow-trustees and find some investments elsewhere to keep him busy in the meantime.And while we're on the subject of the Board of Trustees, I do find it curious that the board's work is managed by two vice presidents, one reporting to the other. I refer to Ted Mallo, vice president and general counsel and board secretary....and Russell D. Sibert, another vice president, of board operations, and assistant secretary to Mallo. Sibert clocks in at $150,748, Mallo at $194, 123. In these lean economic times, particularly for higher education, I'm sure there's someone who can justify having two vice presidents elbow to elbow for nearly $345,000. But until somebody tells me, I won't know, will I?