Leaders of the Miami Community,
It has come to my attention that there has been public scrutiny of Roger Jenkins and an agreement between him and Miami alum, parent, and benefactor of time and treasurer, Tom Petters.
Prior to being convicted of turning his firm, Petters Group Worldwide, into a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme, Petters visited campus, gave speeches and presentations, and served on several advisory boards.
Now it has become public that Dean Jenkins had been contracted by Petters to perform consulting services in strategy, marketing / branding, transaction-related activities, executive development / human resources, and recruitment.
The contracting of these services is not unusual for someone with the level of expertise possessed by Dean Jenkins, having served as President of two companies and holding a PhD in Business Administration, and neither was the compensation he earned for these services.
He did not do anything illegal and, in fact, knew of no illegal activity going on behind the scenes, much like the rest of the directors, consultants, and executives associated with Petters.
But Miami should never settle for what is legally right.
Miami should hold the members of its community to a higher standard if we hope to achieve true greatness as a community.
Miami should instead hold its members to a standard of ethical behavior.
So the question we should now ask is whether or not the Dean behaved in a way that reflects the values of our university.
Let’s examine the facts.
The Dean performed services appropriate for his expertise at a reasonable level of expected payment relative to similar services performed by professionals of his expertise.
The Dean did not participate in or observe any illegal or unethical activity at the hand of Tom Petters, any other party affiliated with Petters Group Worldwide or the firms that comprise its portfolio.
The Dean has been working for the past four years to avoid any legal action being taken towards him by settling out of court for the return of the compensation he received from Petters.
This legal action would come about as a result of Petters’ illegal and unethical means of sourcing the money to pay those who he had contracted at a fair value for services, not as a result of anything illegal the Dean had done to receive the arranged compensation.
In my view, Dean Jenkins did not do anything that stands counter to ethical standard we should strive to hold the members of our community to.
That was my reaction when I first encountered an article published that covered the “story.”
After further investigation of the details it is my firm stance.
However, Miami also needs to think about its reputation.
The world is always watching us – prospective students, potential employers, alumni both critical and supportive, and competing universities.
We have an alumnus running to be the Vice President of the United States and we have a national reputation in the arts, athletics, and – of course – academics.
What does this news mean for our reputation, and what are the implications of the impact of this news on our reputation on our association with Roger Jenkins?
Certainly having the words “Tom Petters” and “Miami” together in the same headline will be an impairment to the “Miami brand.”
That, we know, is inevitable.
However, that is also unavoidable.
I would argue that it cannot be avoided and can only be exacerbated – exacerbated if the university takes action against the Dean or asks him to resign, which would be interpreted as an indication of guilt or unethical activity.
This would not only be a misrepresentation, but it would be far worse for Miami’s reputation than waiting for the media to grow tired of trying to create a story out of something that really does not make that great of news.
A resignation or dismissal, on the other hand, makes for great press.
In the United States we are all susceptible to sensationalism in the media, but that does not mean we have to live in fear of it and certainly does not mean we should feed it.
Beyond the short term reputation, let’s examine the reputation of the university over the long term.
During his tenure as Dean of the Farmer School of Business, Roger Jenkins has worked tirelessly to enhance the quality of our programs and the prestige of our university.
Though many students, faculty, alumni, family, and friends have played an integral role in the rise of FSB in national rankings, Dean Jenkins is the one who deserves the lion’s share of credit.
He is the person who is the most individually responsible for developing such a nationally-renowned program.
Every player has been crucial, but without Dean Jenkins, very many of them would not have been gathered and galvanized as we have seen over the past decade.
How about the impact of Miami’s association with Roger Jenkins to the health of the Miami community?
If you were at the commencement ceremonies this spring you would have seen a crowd of students erupt with applause and cheering when the Dean was introduced as a member of the platform party.
Students love him because he invests himself so heavily in our education, in our success, and in our growth as individuals.
He is qualified to be President and CEO of a major corporation, a University Provost, and even a University President with all that he has achieved in his career, yet he continues to instead spend his time developing students and enhancing the Miami Experience.
Personally, I can say that my Miami Experience would not have been nearly as enriching without his friendship, advice, and wisdom.
But I will conclude my remarks where I began them – with ethics.
In this situation, the members of the Board of Trustees and the University Administration are the ethical actors and have a very important decision to make.
Will they rally behind a friend, servant of the school, and leader among their ranks?
Or will they take action due to sensationalist media and break the career, honor, legacy, and heart of an innocent man – legally and ethically?
The world is watching. I am, too.
Love and Honor,
Nicholas S. Huber