Former Williams President Morty Schapiro wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in March on the “The New Face of Campus Unrest.” It is not good. Let’s spend a week dissecting it! Today is Day 3.

As all the good Deconstructionistas at Williams have taught us, we should pay at least as much attention to the words left out of a text as to the words in them. What is missing from Morty’s op-ed? A clear thesis statement, as we discussed last time.

And that question leads to a second lesson from the Foucaultlians. Don’t read the text for what it says. Ask, instead, “Why was it written?”

Morty, not a man immune to the siren calls of Mammon, is smart enough to be planning his post-college-presidency life. He has been sucking on the generous teat of MMC for more than a decade. Corporate board service is one of the world’s easiest jobs. Consider Morty’s compensation:


$240,000 per year for a handful of board meetings! Nice work if you can get it.

But how do you get more of it? Simple: Write anodyne pieces in the Wall Street Journal which demonstrate that you are a sensible guy, someone who makes CEOs and other corporate honchos comfortable, someone who appreciates power and the people who wield it.

Now, don’t be too cynical, dear reader! I am sure that Morty was just sitting around one Tuesday in February, bored, without too much to do. Obviously, he doesn’t have more students to teach, faculty to meet or rich people to charm. It was either write a thesis-less op-ed for the Wall Street Journal or rewatch his DVD of USC’s Football Greatest Hits . . .

Morty may not have intended this — who among us likes to admit to our baser motives? — but anyone advising him on the best way to maximize his future income would advise him to write Wall Street Journal op-eds that rich guys will agree with.

Best part is MMC’s description of why Morty makes such an outstanding member of its board of directors.

We believe Mr. Schapiro’s qualifications to sit on our Board of Directors and chair our Directors and Governance Committee include his experience in managing large and complex educational institutions, which provides the Board with a diverse approach to management, as well as his 32 years of experience as a professor of economics.

Yeah, right! Morty joined the board of MMC before he became president of Northwestern or of Williams. He was just a random dean at USC, with no background in insurance or any of MMC’s other businesses. (Recall our discussion of the Morty/Marsh controversy a decade ago.) He was asked to join the board because (I am almost certain) someone already on the board had a USC connection.

Morty has kept that job because the people in power like having him around. Writing non-controversial op-eds helps as well.

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