It might appear, at very first blush, a not likely connection: Leon Botstein, the president of Bard, among the nation’s most progressive colleges, and Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced billionaire implicated of sexually abusing teenage ladies.
However reporting from The Wall Street Journal today revealed that Dr. Botstein did not simply pursue Mr. Epstein wishing to raise cash, he did so consistently. He made regular sees to Mr. Epstein’s Upper East Side townhouse, and Mr. Epstein and his entourage hopped by helicopter to Bard’s rich school in the Hudson Valley.
Dr. Botstein stated in interviews with The New york city Times that the gos to were everything about financing for Bard– for the school’s dedication to social justice, its detainee education program, its liberal arts objective. Bard calls itself “a personal college for the public great.”
” Individuals do not comprehend what this task is,” he stated, including, “You can not decide on, since amongst the extremely abundant is a greater portion of undesirable and not extremely appealing individuals. Commercialism is a rough system.”
In protecting his pursuit of Mr. Epstein and openly explaining the concern of raising cash, Dr. Botstein provided insight into how the requirement to draw in dollars can appear to run headlong into a scholastic organization’s mentioned worths.
Mr. Epstein provided prolifically to numerous charities and universities, consisting of Harvard and M.I.T., and the Wall Street Journal report revealed that his network of contacts was larger than had actually been believed, consisting of popular figures like the linguist Noam Chomsky and Lawrence Summers, the previous Treasury secretary and president of Harvard. Dr. Summers looked for cash for a poetry structure, led by his spouse, Elisa New, a Harvard literature teacher. Mr. Summers decreased to comment.
” Would we accept cash from Jeffrey Epstein today? No,” Dr. Botstein stated, explaining the previous donor as a “beast” and “genuinely wicked male.” “We had no concept, the general public record had no indicator, that he was anything more than a normal– if you might state such a thing– sex culprit who had actually been founded guilty and went to prison.”
Mr. Epstein had actually been extremely openly implicated of sexually abusing ladies as young as 14 Nevertheless, he had actually lessened his legal direct exposure with high-powered legal representatives, settlements that silenced grievances, and a plea offer that short-circuited an F.B.I. examination.
Bard College, about 100 miles north of New york city City, was having a hard time after the 2008 monetary crisis. By 2016, a monetary rankings firm had devalued Bard’s financial outlook, partially since the college had little money.
After Mr. Epstein provided Bard an unsolicited $75,000 present in 2011, Dr. Botstein stated that he expected more contributions. The Times had formerly reported the present.
” A man sent us cash, and we followed up,” he stated. “It’s an easy story.”
Over the next 4 approximately years, The Wall Street Journal reported, there were 2 lots approximately gos to set up with Mr. Epstein, primarily at the investor’s Manhattan townhouse. Mr. Epstein checked out Bard to go to an opera in 2013 and a performance in 2016, preparing to bring his young female assistants and show up by helicopter, according to the paper.
In an interview, Dr. Botstein stated he never ever experienced young female assistants around Mr. Epstein, that he was not present when Mr. Epstein’s helicopter showed up, which he did not keep in mind whether he had actually satisfied Mr. Epstein throughout those gos to, which he stated taken place throughout the summertime when classes were not in session.
Dr. Botstein stated that it was his task to raise cash for the liberal arts organization he leads, in a time when the nation is not effectively moneying college. Bard has a little alumni base, he stated, so a big part of his task is convincing rich people who are not associated with the organization to provide cash.
” That is an embarrassing experience to return over and over and over,” Dr. Botstein stated, including, “We’re entirely at the grace of the extremely rich.”
In the beginning, establishing a relationship with Mr. Epstein did not appear far afield for Bard, according to Dr. Botstein. Bard has a program for founded guilty felons, and Dr. Botstein stated that the school thinks in 2nd possibilities.
” That becomes part of our instructional objective,” he stated. “You would not slam a priest for providing communion to a founded guilty felon.”
College presidents should typically join unpleasant characters to raise cash, stated Stephen Trachtenberg, a previous president of George Washington University. Throughout his period, Mr. Trachtenberg stated, he thought about accepting contributions from Scientologists and from the Libyan strongman, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, however eventually declined them.
In an interview, Mr. Trachtenberg, now 85, stated he never ever regretted his choice relating to Gaddafi, however still questions whether he made the best call with the Scientologists, who he stated desired the university to give an honorary degree on their creator, L. Ron Hubbard, a George Washington alumnus.
” I might have put 10 trainees through college for that type of cash,” he stated of the used amount, and included, “You’re attempting to find out how to stabilize the source of the cash with the function that you’re using the cash to.”
Mr. Epstein voraciously befriended rich executives, stars and political leaders. As the allegations versus him broadened, however, organizations began examining their ties to him and accounting for his presents, often rerouting the cash. Mr. Epstein eliminated himself in his Manhattan prison cell in 2019, according to the New york city City medical inspector. At the time, Mr. Epstein was waiting for trial on federal sex-trafficking charges
All colleges and not-for-profit groups need to preferably have a gift-acceptance policy authorized by their trustees, attending to how to deal with “polluted cash,” stated Costs Stanczykiewicz, director of the Fund Raising School at Indiana University, describing presents from dishonest individuals.
There are no set guidelines about which donors are off limitations, he stated; rather, it depends on each organization’s board of trustees and the neighborhood to hold fund-raisers responsible. He indicated an old maxim: “If this appeared above the fold in the paper, would we be humiliated? Would we have the ability to protect this?”
Dr. Botstein stated Bard does not have any constraints about which donors it might accept cash from, however it does have a guideline that presents in excess of $10,000 need approval by the board of trustees. Efforts to reach the chairman of Bard’s board, James. C. Chambers, were not instantly effective.
Bard remains in much better monetary shape today than it was when it was charming Mr. Epstein. The college’s endowment got a $500 million present n 2021 from the billionaire George Soros, a contribution Dr. Botstein called “the most historical minute” for the college because its starting in 1860.
No such presents originated from Mr. Epstein. Check outs with him would constantly be performed in less than half an hour, Dr. Botstein stated. And aside from Mr. Epstein’s contribution of 66 notebook computer, efforts to draw out cash from him showed not successful.
” He took pleasure in embarrassing and dangling potential customers,” Dr. Botstein stated, including, “He was vicious. He definitely strung me along.”
Susan C. Beachy contributed research study.