February 26, 2007
Stanford President's Conflicts of Interest
Last Saturday's edition of the Wall Street Journal contained a long story ("The Golden Touch of the Stanford President") detailing how the President of Stanford, with an annual salary of $616,000 a year, had netted over $43 million in outside business activities during his five year tenure. The uncomfortable parts of the story described personal investments and involvement in companies that either did business with his University or that were the subject of investments by his University's private endowment funds. Both these activities represent conflicts of interest that the university itself, through its governing board, had to ratify given a full disclosure on the facts of the President's involvement. There is no mention in the story of such board authorizations. What is common practice for private corporations when CEO's operate under a conflict of interest should be applied to our large non-for profit organizations as well.