Staff Editorial: Campaign for W&M requires transparency
April 6, 2007
Take one look around campus. The new Jamestown dorms that you probably will not get into come lottery time, the new addition to Rogers Hall and Millington Hall and the plans for the new Mason School of Business have all been direct results of financial support of alumni and friends of the College. It seems overwhelmingly clear that information regarding the progress of the Campaign for William and Mary — the endowment fundraising endeavor that is so critical for the future of the College — is of public concern, and should be of public knowledge. The editors of this newspaper find it alarming that this is not currently the case, particularly in light of the recent donation and pledge retractions due to the Wren cross controversy.
p. In the spring of 2006, Sean Pieri was appointed by the Board of Visitors as vice president for development, with the task of overseeing the completion of the Campaign for William and Mary — which at the time, stood $50 million short of its $500 million goal. While Pieri and others associated with the Campaign have traditionally released quarterly reports on the progress of the fund, the figures of the previous quarter — a period that ended March 31 — are being withheld without explanation, and, according to Pieri, will not be available until the Campaign ends June 30 of this year.
p. Such a departure from precedent and responsibility is embarrassing and calls into question the level of fiscal responsibility exhibited by our administration.
p. The Flat Hat has closely followed the quarterly and annual progress of the Campaign for the past two years. Given the importance of the fund to alumni and current and future students, we were pleased at the February announcement that fundraising had reached the $500 million goal nearly five months in advance of its closing date; we were equally discouraged when the $12 million pledge withdrawal of former BOV Rector James McGlothlin, ’62, caused the fund to fall about $10 million short of the goal. It is logical to conclude that there is a connection between McGlothlin’s decision and Pieri’s refusal to release the Campaign statistics.
p. While we understand that the Campaign is entering its final quarter, and that discouraging statistics may potentially embarrass the College, we nevertheless maintain that this information must be public — particularly when such information is both relevant and important to members and friends of the College community.
p. Withholding such information until the end of June undermines its importance to students, as most students will be away from Williamsburg during the summer months. Furthermore, such blatant disregard for transparency and openness by Pieri and the development office is a threat to the principles of public information at this public university. While the statistics could ultimately be released before the June 30 deadline — Pieri may simply be waiting for the Campaign to reach its goal — bypassing one’s duties as a College official and withholding public information at the expense of those whom it affects the most is not only unacceptable, but sets a dangerous precedent for the future handling of important College information.