News - The Board of Regents

For making special rules for special people

Imagine you get a job despite thin qualifications.

You promptly piss off key people in your organization, making your biggest boo-boo by trying to fire the most popular employee. The organization's financial backers decide to investigate rumors that you misspent money, and those rumors turn out to be true: Among other things, you used company money to throw a $10,000 party for your son and to fly your friends to out-of-town galas. Not only that, but the investigators, who come from a top accounting firm, say you didn't cooperate with them.

You and I would be fired on the spot — wouldn't we? Not so for University of Georgia president Michael Adams. His bosses at the prestigious state Board of Regents responded by telling everyone else to just shut up and move on because the matter of Adams' high-handedness and misspending is "closed."

The Regents' arrogance last week is particularly disturbing. It's clear now that Adams is out of his league as UGA president. With an imperious manner and the thinnest credentials as a scholar, he quickly alienated the faculty. Hired for his fundraising prowess, he's drawn boycotts by some of the school's wealthiest givers.

The Regents' perfunctory dismissal of legitimate concerns about Adams may actually belie a behind-the-scenes effort to get rid of this faulty hire. Let's hope so. It's more likely, however, that their own lordliness reflects a deeply troubling trend: Some people in our society are treated differently than you or I are. Those people, who managed at some point to move into a stratosphere of high pay and privilege, can get away with anything; the rest of us must pay if we make a mistake.

Like Michael Adams, most of the Regents live in that stratosphere of golden parachutes and chickens that never come home to roost. Why, then, would they fire Adams? Doing so might mean any incompetent elite could be knocked back down with the common people. We wouldn't want that now, would we?

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