Harvard, BU Trustee Conflicts Are Cited

Ann McClure's picture
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A new report finds that 70 percent of Massachusetts’ wealthiest private colleges did business in fiscal 2009 and 2010 with companies affiliated with trustees on the schools’ boards, a number strikingly higher than the national average of 25 percent.

Such arrangements are widely considered to be conflicts of interest. Several of the 20 schools in the report, including Harvard University and Boston University apparently did not fully disclose all the ties on forms required by the Internal Revenue Service and the state attorney general.

The report, expected to be released Tuesday, was written by the Boston think tank Tellus Institute, which has published several critical analyses of universities’ financial policies. It was paid for by SEIU Local 615, a union that represents workers at several of the colleges. The union is lobbying for a state bill that would call on private colleges to reveal more information about finances than currently required.

Several of the colleges said the union sponsorship was itself a conflict of interest.

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