April 1, 2010; New York Times | Questions are being raised about the fitness of a trustee appointed last September to the board of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), considered one of the best known of New York’s state schools. According to the New York Times, FIT’s board is “stocked with designers, city business leaders and the wives of prominent financial executives.” That’s why some are scratching their heads Gov. David A. Paterson’s decision to make Beverly S. Mack a trustee.
The paper reports that Mack “has no connection to the school or the fashion industry. She has worked for several financial companies, but has had money troubles of her own, having filed for bankruptcy along with her former husband in the mid-1990s. And she now works in Ohio and appears to live there, which would make her ineligible for the institute’s board.”
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In contrast, an earlier FIT appointee, Judith Byrd, seems an appropriate choice. Byrd’s husband, Ronald Blaylock, is a Wall Street veteran, and she is friends with Michelle Obama. The Times notes that trustees receive no pay, but suggests one reason for agreeing to serve and put in the time required “might be the potential for networking with some successful New Yorkers.”
While even fellow board members try to solve the puzzle about why she’s a trustee, the Times decided to contact Mack herself to see if she could help unravel the mystery. In response to a reporter’s call, she said, “I don’t have anything to say, so thanks for calling.” One wonders how long before this increased scrutiny causes Mack to finally fall out of fashion with the school.—Bruce Trachtenberg