Review: the University of California - Davis Pepper Spray Incident
We just discussed the now infamous pepper spraying of peaceful student protesters at the University of California. We noted our previous concerns about the leadership of the university Chancellor who presided over this incident because she had previously seemed disconnected from the prime mission of the university (but instead pushed its role as a developer and marketer of biotechnology) (see this post), and defended the nearly one million dollar compensation for the medical center CEO at a time when the university's finances became increasingly fragile (see this post).
Since then, the Chancellor, Linda P B Katehi, vaguely apologized for the incident at a student rally where many speakers called for her resignation (see, for example, this story in the San Francisco Chronicle).
A University Chancellor in Proximity to the One Percent as Director of John Wiley and Sons
There is a certain irony to all this. While the overriding theme of the "occupy" movement has been to advocate for the "99 percent" of Americans who feel increasingly powerless, the original protest at UC-Davis was not so much against the plutocratic one percent, as against "tuition increases and state cuts in higher education," (per the Chronicle) Yet the person who is now at the focus of the Occupy UC-Davis group's wrath is closer to the one percent than most protesters realized.
A quick search on Google revealed that Chancellor Katehi started a new part time job in 2011. She is now a member of the board of directors of John Wiley and Sons, Inc, a $2.8 billion market market capitalization "global publisher of print and electronic products." Note that this position on not listed on her official bio on the UC - Davis web-site as of 23 November, 2011, nor on her official curriculum vita (from 2010) available on that web-site.
As a board member, she can expect over $100,000 yearly as compensation, based on fees paid in 2010 reported in the 2011 company proxy statement. Since last year, the board approved compensation for the five highest paid executives ranging from over $1.8 million to over $5.3 million. So a position on the board certainly put Ms Katehi in the proximity of the one percent.
Furthermore, as we have noted previously, compliant, if not crony board members have been blamed for the huge increase in the compensation of top corporate executives who now make up the majority of the "one percent." Since most board members seem to be current or retired high-ranking executives, their enthusiasm for raising their fellow hired executives' compensation should not be surprising. Note that Ms Katehi is effectively the "CEO" of UC- Davis.
A Conflict of Interest
In some cases, board members' disinclination to challenge the executives they are supposed to be supervising may arise from conflicts of interest. Note regarding the current example that John Wiley and Sons is a leading publisher of text books and professional journals in medicine, the life sciences, and many other subjects relevant to the curriculum of many of the schools and departments at UC-Davis, and particularly to the medical school and academic medical center. More importantly, as we noted here, John Wiley and Sons' Wiley-Blackwell subsidiary includes a medical education and communications unit.
On its website, this entity promises:
Our Global Corporate Sales Team of more than 100 people is dedicated to serving the publishing and communication needs of your industry. Through our extensive range of clinical and professional publications, we can develop a customized communications plan to support your promotional strategy, maximizing the impact of your brand.Among the services provided are "continuing professional development," including "conferences and training schemes," and establishing "advisory boards to provide direction on issues surrounding new products or developing brands. We draw on our close relationships with industry leaders...." Thus, like other medical education and communication companies (MECCs), this subsidiary can use a variety of tactics to infiltrate marketing messages into what appears to be medical education.
Whether you are looking for global or localized campaigns, for strategic or tactical support, our publishing teams are knowledgeable at all levels and are easy to reach in your time zone by phone, email or in person.
We provide an expert service, competitive pricing, dedicated project management and the flexibility to provide peer-reviewed support for your brand from pre-launch to maturity, achieving strong credibility.
By accepting a position on the board of directors of an academic and medical publisher that also runs a MECC, Ms Katehi has taken on fiduciary responsibility for the company, and thus seems to have a potentially intense conflict of interest, particularly affecting her leadership of a medical school and academic medical center (see our first discussion of what then appeared to be a "new species" of conflict of interest due to academic medical leaders' membership on a board of a health care corporation here.)
I can only speculate that proximity to the one per cent, and the conflict of interest induced by fiduciary responsibility for the stewardship of an academic and medical publisher and a medical education and communication company might have left Ms Katehi feeling distant from protesters who claimed "we are the 99 per cent," and hence more inclined to support clearing them from the campus by whatever means.
In any case, it turns out that Occupy UC -Davis took on a more appropriate opponent than they realized.
This case illustrates how the complex web of relationships among the top leaders of society, including leaders of health acre organizations, is more sticky and pervasive than was heretofore apparent.
In any case, it underlines our repeated call.... To reform health care, we must reverse the managers' coup d'etat, and restore leadership of health care organizations that puts the mission, and the health of patients and the population first, and is accountable to corporate owners (when applicable) and to patients and the public. But that will mean now going up against those who have made themselves the richest and most powerful people in the country and the world, who will not lightly give up their oligarchy.