Meyer serves latest media racket, McKenna challenges

Meyer defends Board’s practices, appointments

Colleen Day

As public spats vehemently volley either side of Suffolk University’s top floor decision-makers, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Andrew Meyer issued a memo to trustees last week defending the Board’s stewardship of the university, insisting it has a long list of positive contributions to a university lost in the throes of a city-wide controversy.

In multiple appearances last week, McKenna remained unyielding, pushing for needed improvements and insisting she has clearly repeated to the Board she will remain a reform agent of necessary change on campus and will be a strong, independent hand in the university’s future dealings.

Citing a revised to-do list in an interview with the Boston Globe on Wednesday, which includes consolidating and strengthening the institution’s public policy programs, forming new relationships with community colleges and increasing employee diversity, McKenna shared she sensed uneasiness early on in her contract, noting members of the Board told her bluntly they did not trust her.

“I felt like the third wife,” she said.

The continued duel between Meyer and McKenna raises questions on the endurance of the agreement reached between the Board and president earlier this month, which calls for Meyer to not seek reelection in May and McKenna to serve out her shortened 18-month-maximum contract.

In an interview with the Journal late Tuesday, Student Government Association President Colin Loiselle commented on the stability of the agreement, exclusively sharing SGA’s upcoming plans to issue a follow-up letter of demands to the Board.

“I think the back-and-forth shows that this really isn’t as solid of a deal as we were told. It shows that Andrew Meyer will do everything in his power until he leaves in May to continue to operate in a shady and unethical manner,” he said.

The upcoming letter from SGA on behalf of students is highly interested in establishing a working relationship with the Board, said Loiselle, stressing the need for drastic change within its governance.

“Before any change or improvements can be made, we firmly believe that Andrew Meyer, Bill Hogan and Julie Kahn must resign from the Board immediately,” he said.

Spiking McKenna’s comments to the media on the Board’s donations to the university as “not significant,” Meyer’s memo heavily expressed the Board’s generosity, stressing that all 28 Suffolk trustees have had a hand in a series of donations, providing the university personal financial gifts of “tens of thousands, and some hundreds of thousands, of dollars to the university.”

As students and faculty continue to faithfully rally behind McKenna despite her imminent departure, Meyer backhanded the media’s coverage of the Board’s affairs. He offered a scathing portrayal of the press’s involvement after widespread coverage of his alleged whistleblowing of the university’s dirty laundry and the Board’s closed-door attempts to oust McKenna broke.

“Reports in the attack on this Board suggest this Board has not achieved significant accomplishments for the betterment of the University’s students, faculty, alumni and the entire Suffolk community,” Meyer wrote. “As most all of you are aware, that is anything but true.”

In response to McKenna’s additional claims that the Board has not devoted enough attention to diversity, the Chairman of the Board of 21 men and seven women, only two of which are not people of color, recounted the recent hiring of several diverse heads of which the Board oversaw.

Pointing out the appointments of a female provost, female chief financial officer, an Asian-American female dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the law school’s first female dean, who is of Jamaican descent, Meyer challenged, vowing the Board is actively recruiting talented women and minorities to the faculty directory.

As the Board works to comply with the agreement’s demands for a rewriting of its bylaws and reformatting of its internal governance, McKenna has openly expressed the need for the Board to hold up its end of the bargain before she departs.

On potentially extending her presidency after the Board meets the university’s crediting agency’s 2014 appeal letter and the joint statement’s requirement to update its bylaws, McKenna said to the Globe on Thursday, “Anything is possible, but I don’t want to muddy the waters.”