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EGCC Trustees will never hold themselves accountable

Earlier this week, before passing resolutions to dissolve Eastern Gateway Community College, the school’s Board of Trustees heard from Dr. Edward Florak, a former president of the institution. Florak implored the EGCC Board of Trustees to hold accountable those people responsible for the school’s downfall.

There are two problems with Florak’s impassioned plea. First, the people who profited directly from the EGCC fiasco are long gone. They lined their pockets while the getting was good, and then they left. There is little hope that these individuals will ever be held to account for what they did, unless federal prosecutors can make a very solid case against them. I would venture to say that these people have already moved on to their next target. Maybe they’ve already got their next scam in place.

Second, the people who are responsible for EGCC’s sorry state were the people that Florak was addressing. They will never hold themselves accountable for their failure to act promptly when the financial aid scam was revealed. The Board of Trustees will never call themselves to account for their failure to ask questions, raise commonsense objections, consult with outside attorneys, talk to financial aid experts, or just flat-out refuse to cooperate with the plan.

Eastern Gateway Community College’s downfall is a direct result of its administration – with the full approval and blessing of its Board – chasing profits. It clearly illustrates why you cannot run a college like a business.

Placing the pursuit of financial profit over the mission of the college is likely the single most dangerous thing a publicly funded college or university can do. The purpose of a business is to generate profits. There is no other reason for a business to exist, and there is no substitute measure of success.

EGCC Trustees won’t acknowledge their roles in school’s failure

Education is expensive. Higher education is even more expensive. It requires public subsidies because colleges and universities cannot survive solely on tuition revenues. The public funds education precisely because we have decided in our culture that education is both expressly necessary and too expensive for individuals to acquire on their own. The people who call for schools to make a profit or support themselves without public funding simply do not understand the landscape.

And yet, making money is appealing, especially to the business types who find ways to get elected or appointed to Trustee positions. It all seems quite natural – until the college runs afoul of federal and state laws that expressly forbid profit-seeking among non-profit enterprises.

Sadly, the EGCC Trustees who authorized this scheme, approved every part of the money grab, remained quiet when the second-level executives and the EGCC faculty sought relief, and failed to act when it became clear the institution was in desperate trouble will never be called to account for their actions and inactions.

They will characterize their actions as ministerial. They will proclaim to anyone who listens that they were just doing their jobs. And they will agree among themselves that it will be a “sad day” when EGCC closes its doors for the final time.

These people should never be allowed near another non-profit institution again, but I suspect that like the people who emptied EGCC’s bank accounts, they’re already lining up their next gig.

Photo Credit: Chris Devers, via Flickr