Board of Trustees, Mary Baldwin Face Conflict of Interest Issue

Crista Cabe, Senior Vice President of University Relations at Mary Baldwin University, resigned, effective yesterday. In the face of both financial and institutional uncertainty, it is a surprise that Mary Baldwin University is focusing more on their PR personnel than on a strategic plan to involve all stakeholders in the future path for the institution.

What is most unsettling is the appointment of Karen Bailey-Chapman, a current Board of Trustees member, to the position of interim Vice President for External Affairs on a pro bono basis. Bailey-Chapman, an alumna of the school, founded KB Advocacy, a public affairs firm based in Washington D.C. While Bailey-Chapman has an extensive background in political public relations, there is no educational public relations experience listed in her University-provided biography. A voting member of the Board of Trustees acting as the pro bono PR consultant and Vice President of University Relations is an unacceptable conflict of interest.

Boldly Baldwin, Inc. and the alumnae the nonprofit represents call for the immediate resignation of Karen Bailey-Chapman from either the position of pro bono interim Vice President of External Affairs or from her position on the Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees. It is imperative that Karen Bailey-Chapman ceases to operate in these dual roles. This appointment is clearly in violation of the University’s Articles of Incorporation, which state that the Board of Trustees has the duty to protect the university from conflicts of interest, or the appearance thereof. As a member of the Board of Trustees, Ms. Bailey-Chapman’s role is to make legal and fiduciary decisions in the best interest of the University, as well as guide the University in her strategic goals. It is not difficult to see how a conflict of interest may arise should Ms. Bailey-Chapman serve as both a member of the Board of Trustees and a member of the University’s Administration.

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