Herbert answers critics; trustees explore review
criticisms in interview
Accusations made by the Bloomington faculty about IU President Adam Herbert not being responsive to University donors are "totally untrue," Herbert said in his first interview since the special-session faculty meeting Tuesday. During the interview, which Herbert agreed to partially in response to an Indiana Daily Student column, he also discussed issues of race, personal attacks on him and a lack of attention being brought to his accomplishments while serving as president.
"Things that are being said are just not true," Herbert said. "The reality is I talk to donors. There is the case I cannot talk to every donor. You only have so much time and also it's important that people understand that at a certain level they clearly get presidential attention."
Herbert said he is flying today to meet with a donor and he has done that several times during the past two and a half years. In explaining the president's role in the fund-raising process, Herbert said the deans, chancellors and people from the IU Foundation deal with gifts up to $1 million.
"In a major research university that has the aspirations that we do from a fund-raising perspective, the president normally would focus on gifts that are seven, eight or nine figures," Herbert said. "Because what you have to do strategically is make clear those are very special donors and they need more time."
But Jack Kimberling doesn't share the same sentiment. Kimberling is the largest individual donor to the IU Law School, with donations totaling $5 million. Kimberling said he sent Herbert a letter and several e-mails to attempt to set up an appointment. Finally, after four weeks, the meeting was scheduled to discuss some "issues," Kimberling said.
"It was a negative discussion," Kimberling said. "I doubt that I would donate money to IU while (Herbert) is president. I think IU is leaderless. I would like to see the leadership situation resolved."
However, not all major donors share Kimberling's view. William J. Godfrey gave the largest single gift from an individual to the Kelley School of Business. Earlier this year he bequeathed land worth $25 million for need-based scholarships in the Kelley School and for the building's needs. He has met with Herbert on three separate occasions.
"Whether it was (Herbert) or (former IU President) Myles Brand, it wouldn't have made any difference to me," Godfrey said. "(Herbert) was very cordial and pleasant."
IU Spokesman Larry MacIntyre said there have been a number of specific criticisms and Herbert's heard some of these.
"There has been criticism about the way Herbert had handled the Godfrey donation and President Herbert believes that criticism was wrong," MacIntyre said. "The president was just very appreciative of what Mr. Godfrey did, and it was the president's feeling that he and Mr. Godfrey had established a good relationship."
In an interview Wednesday morning, Herbert responded to other criticisms brought by the faculty in recent days. Herbert said he is disappointed that the information being presented has been more personal in nature.
"I am disappointed that the focus has not been on the significant institutional accomplishments that we have experienced over the last 28 months," Herbert said. "If one is focusing on leadership of the University then I think we have a remarkable story to tell. I think it is one in which the entire University community and our alumni should be very proud of."
Herbert said some of the allegations being made by people in the IU community are just "patently untrue," but declined to give examples.
"I have shared with colleagues the inaccuracies of a number of those points," Herbert said. "If I get into a conversation about that it serves no use or purpose. I have talked with folks about the facts."
One of the main concerns discussed at Tuesday's faculty meeting was Herbert's lack of visibility on the IU campus, a point expressed by IU law professor Fred Cate.
Herbert said he doesn't know what the word "visibility" means in that context, but he said he can probably do more.
"If I'm going to give more speeches around the state, if I'm going to be involved in visiting with more alumni around the nation and world, more donors around the country and the world and be available to deal with the legislative sessions as they come up, what does that mean with the total amount of time I can spend on campus?" Herbert said.
Some faculty members suggested the criticism of Herbert was an attack on a black president by a predominantly white opposition.
Herbert said he doesn't deal with questions about race, and he has met with both black and white faculty members.
"I did not limit meetings on whether a person was black or white," Herbert said.
Herbert implored the faculty to move beyond these accusations and to focus on bettering IU.
"I challenge the faculty to talk about a philosophy of undergraduate education and what does a degree from Indiana University stand for? I believe we have an obligation as a faculty to address those issues," Herbert said. "I've been trying to engage the faculty and the University community in a major process of institutional transformation. My regret is that we are not engaged in that kind of conversation."
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