TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg on Monday called on Rutgers President Robert Barchi to resign his position from two paid advisory boards of two companies that do business with Rutgers University.
“The inherent conflict of interest is inconsistent with his leadership responsibilities at Rutgers,” she said after a Bergen Record report that outlines the relationship.
His service on the advisory boards of VWR International and Covance Inc. paid Barchi a combined $317,000 in fees and stock awards last year alone, Weinberg pointed out in a release. Both companies have contracts with Rutgers for services and products.
“This is a two-way financial arrangement that creates a textbook example of a conflict of interest,” said Weinberg. “The president of the university is on the payroll of companies that are paid millions of dollars by the school. Even if Mr. Barchi avoids direct involvement in business decisions between Rutgers and these firms, the appearance of a conflict could undermine his credibility at a key time in the evolution of the university. Neither Mr. Barchi nor Rutgers can afford any additional distractions from the demanding job of engineering the reorganization of the state’s universities and medical schools.”
Barchi’s annual compensation from Rutgers totals $747,000 with bonuses.
This is not the first time Barchi has had controversy with legislators. He come under questioning months ago before budget committee members about his handling of the dismissal of the former basketball coach after video surfaced of him verbally and physically abusing players.
Gov. Chris Christie has consistently defended Barchi, who is overseeing the massive higher-education reorganization that involves Rutgers and other universities.
And Assemblywoman Celeste Riley said in a release that “The board last week voted to raise tuition and fees for in-state students, making it harder for students of moderate financial means to attend the university. Yet the board sees no issue with allowing President Barchi to get paid to serve on advisory boards for companies that do business with the university. One of the companies has in the last five years received $15 million from Rutgers.
“This is clearly a conflict of interest that should never have been sanctioned. The mere perception of impropriety was reason enough to ask President Barchi to cut ties with these companies.”