The Senate Majority Leader wants answers from Rutgers regarding the relationship its president has with two companies that conduct business with the university.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg sent a letter Tuesday to the Rutgers University Board of Governors regarding President Robert Barchi’s positions with VWR International and Covance Inc., the university’s decision to allow such a situation to continue, and other questions she said demand answers.
Barchi received over $300,000 from VWR last year and has $2.5 million in Covance stock. Weinberg points out in her letter that he makes $747,000 from Rutgers as president.
This is not the first situation involving Barchi that has drawn legislative attention. His handling earlier this year of the infamous video of the since-dismissed basketball coach hurling balls at players and verbally abusing them drew questions during hearings.
Gov. Chris Christie has consistently defended Barchi during the first half of the year while the massive higher-education reorganization was under way and moving toward its July 1 deadline.
In her letter, Weinberg said that among other things, did the Rutgers Board of Governors consider any conflicts of interest Barchi’s dealings with those companies represented; did the board realize other university presidents in similar situations are not usually compensated so generously; and what steps will the university take to make sure those companies do not receive favorable treatment.
“The explanations and the seemingly-apathetic attitude by many in positions of authority have been both inadequate and troubling,” Weinberg said in the letter. “What is an obvious conflict of interest to most has been excused and accepted far too casually by the Rutgers Board of Governors and by Governor Christie.”
She said that a full accounting is needed.
“With the succession of controversies that have erupted at Rutgers during Mr. Barchi’s new tenure and the important challenge of guiding Rutgers to the next level as a world-class university, neither the school nor its President can afford any ethical shortfalls. A full accounting of the circumstances in this case is important,” she said.