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Donor Influence in Hiring and Nepotism at the Chaifetz School of Business

The new dean of the Chaifetz School of Business sent a May 3 email to faculty and staff announcing the membership of the search committee for the director of the business school’s new Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship. It was revealed that Ross Chaifetz, son of financial donor Richard Chaifetz, is a member of the search committee.

Well-established academic norms preclude a role for financial donors—as well as their family members and/or proxies—in hiring decisions. Ross Chaifetz’s membership on the search committee is a clear violation of such norms. It also gives the distinct appearance of nepotism.

Having the son of financial donor Richard Chaifetz on the search committee manifests a growing problem of inappropriate donor influence at the Chaifetz School of Business. As reported in an October 11, 2019 Saving SLU post, faculty and staff in the business school were told that the donor agreement SLU made with the Chaifetz family grants Richard Chaifetz the privilege of a seat on business school dean search committees. In exchange for money, Richard Chaiftez and his son have both been given seats on search committees at the business school. (It is not known whether Ross Chaifetz’s position on the search committee is also part of the donor agreement or whether the new dean appointed Chaiftetz to the committee on their own.)

Inappropriate donor influence is a growing problem more broadly at SLU. The recent Sinquefield donation is plagued by egregious violations of academic norms, including donor influence in hiring the director of a research center and donor approval for the funding of individual research projects (see, e.g., here).

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Academic Search Committee Seats for Sale

The co-chairs of SLU’s capital campaign—Dr. Richard Chaifetz and Mr. Rex Sinquefield—need to do the right thing and give up the special academic privileges they were granted—to participate in hiring and to directly control research and other funds.