To the Rider University Board of Trustees:
You may know about the grilling Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf received when he appeared before the Senate Banking Committee in September. The members of the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, were incensed at illegal sales practices at the bank that led to employees creating as many as 2 million unwanted or fictitious customer bank and credit card accounts to meet cross-selling goals. This activity cost customers at least $5 million, which the bank has agreed to refund. The bank, with 6,000 retail branches, has fired 5,300 low level employees over a five year period, and has agreed to pay a $185 million fine.
How is this episode relevant to Rider’s Board of Trustees? The members of the Senate Banking Committee, and others in the financial community, made it clear that they thought the Wells Fargo Board, which had known about the bank’s cross-selling problems since 2013, should have taken action earlier to end these practices, punish senior-level executives for tolerating this activity and “claw back” or re-acquire bonuses paid to executives and managers for fraudulently meeting sales goals. These actions were within its power. Because of this criticism, the bank’s board is just now beginning to act.
At Rider, a situation has unfolded over many years that requires the attention and intervention of the university’s board. Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors — representing full- and part-time instructors, athletic staff and librarians on both campuses — has received requests from the administration that will take the institution back to an earlier and undesirable point in its history, harm the educational program and instruction, and make far less likely the re-accreditation of important programs. The very quality of the institution and even its long-term viability are at stake, which makes this a vital matter for the board.
These requests have been made in several consecutive bargaining cycles and annually for several years, and have been prompted by enrollment and fund-raising shortfalls over a long period of time. With the very high quality of our current instructional staff, excellent educational offerings, new programs, attractive and safe campus, and large alumni base, Rider University should not be in this position, and the board should not tolerate continued under-performance in these crucial areas.
The goals and tenor of the administration and the concessions already made by faculty have caused some faculty members to seek employment elsewhere, and have made Rider far less attractive to the high quality candidates we seek to fill our open faculty positions.
—Gerald D. Klein, Ph.D.
Professor emeritus, Organizational Behavior and Management
Printed in the 10/05/16 issue.