IOCC Chairman removed from Cleveland State U Board of Trustees over absences
Alex Machaskee removed from Cleveland State University Board of
Trustees over absences
Posted by cjindra July 01, 2008 22:25PM
A Cleveland State University trustee has been stripped of his board
seat because he missed so many meetings.
Alex Machaskee, retired president and publisher of The Plain Dealer,
attended only 44 percent of CSU board meetings during his two years
as a trustee. State law requires board members of Ohio's public
colleges to attend at least three-fifths, or 60 percent, of meetings
over any two years. Failing that, the board member must forfeit his
or her seat.
Eric Fingerhut, the state's chancellor of higher education, notified
Gov. Ted Strickland's office late Tuesday that Machaskee's seat was
now considered open, according to Keith Dailey, the governor's
Machaskee's absenteeism came to light during a Plain Dealer review of
attendance rates for boards of trustees at four-year public
universities statewide. His rate was the lowest in the two-year
period from mid-2006 through last month.
The only other trustee statewide who failed to meet the 60 percent
threshold was a member of the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges
of Medicine and Pharmacy board, which is being reconstituted because
of governance changes there.
Machaskee acknowledged missing 10 of the 18 CSU board meetings since
he was appointed. He said other civic commitments kept him away.
For instance, Machaskee said that during the most recent meeting on
June 20, he was in Ethiopia as chairman of the International Orthodox
Christian Charities. On four other occasions, he was in Crestwood,
N.Y., attending board meetings for St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological
Seminary, he said.
Another missed CSU board meeting coincided with Eastern Orthodox
Christmas, according to Machaskee. And another came two days after
his 70th birthday, which he said he celebrated out of town last year.
Following a Plain Dealer reporter's questions about attendance rates,
Fingerhut last week instructed his staff to do its own review of
attendance records for all public university and college boards of
trustees. And the Ohio Board of Regents will now regularly review
attendance rates, Fingerhut said Tuesday.
"We take this statute very seriously and intend to execute it exactly
as it's written," Fingerhut said.
The three-fifths rule became state law in 1997 as part of a
government reform effort.
Fingerhut acknowledged that his office hadn't previously had a system
in place for checking attendance.
"As I understand the way this works, it will be my responsibility to
notify the governor's office when we believe an individual has fallen
below the attendance standards set by statute," he said. "It would be
the governor's office that would take the action."
Machaskee, who now runs a consulting firm, is the first university
trustee in recent history to lose his seat because of attendance
He said he had been assured by CSU officials before accepting the
role that he could make up missed meetings. Asked how he was to have
made up those meetings, he referred the question to Sonali Wilson,
secretary of the CSU board.
Wilson said that she does not recall telling Machaskee that he could
make up meetings and that the state statute does not provide for
Machaskee estimated that he spends 90 percent of his time on
nonprofit boards, so getting rid of the Cleveland State University
board would be fine with me.
University trustees are not paid, but they do enjoy perks, including
football tickets as any Ohio State trustee can attest. The attendance
rate for OSU board members is consistently high. The two trustees
with the lowest rates have attended 71 percent of meetings over two
years, according to board minutes.
In Northeast Ohio, trustees at Kent State University and the
University of Akron all exceed the minimum attendance requirement. In
fact, according to minutes from meetings, all but one Akron trustee
had perfect attendance over the last two years.
CSU President Michael Schwartz said that attendance has been so
sparse at recent meetings that it's sometimes difficult to come up
with the needed quorum of five trustees. The trustees role will be
especially critical as the university begins searching for a
replacement for Schwartz, who plans to retire next summer.
In addition to Machaskee's seat now being empty, the board has had
vacancies since Carl Glickman's board term expired on May 1 and Peter
Cavanagh moved to Seattle in the spring.
Dailey, the governor's press secretary, said Strickland is hoping to
fill the Glickman and Cavanagh vacancies within a matter of weeks.
Now also on Strickland's list is finding a Machaskee replacement.
Categories: Education, News Impact, Open