Errors of Omission

Errors of Omission

Transparency and Disclosure of Trustee Conflicts of Interest at Leading Private Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts


Joshua Humphreys, Ann Solomon, Catie Ferrara

Contributors:
Christi Electris, Bryant Mason

This paper analyzes the transparency of related party business transactions at leading private, nonprofit institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, particularly the disclosures of business relationships with firms affiliated with trustees who sit on their boards. Because they are nonprofits, private colleges and universities are required to disclose potential conflicts of interest as a way to hold schools accountable and ensure they are operating in the public interest. This study identifies widespread errors and omissions in reporting that raise questions about the quality of information provided by schools about potential conflicts of interest and the effectiveness of the current transparency system.

 


"[One] of the most trenchant, clear reports on the foibles of higher education finance since The Jungle muckracker Upton Sinclair self-published The Goose-Step: A Study of American Higher Education in 1922."

–Wick Sloane in Inside Higher Ed

This paper analyzes the transparency of related party business transactions at leading private, nonprofit institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, particularly the disclosures of business relationships with firms affiliated with trustees who sit on their boards. Because they are nonprofits, private colleges and universities are required to disclose potential conflicts of interest as a way to hold schools accountable and ensure they are operating in the public interest. This study identifies widespread errors and omissions in reporting that raise questions about the quality of information provided by schools about potential conflicts of interest and the effectiveness of the current transparency system.

Topics
accountability, conflict of interest, endowments, fiduciary, finance, higher education, New England, private universities and colleges, transparency, trustee

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