Barchi lacks the leadership to remain as President of Rutgers University. Barchi called the situation involving Mike Rice a “failure of process”. Really! Where is the accountability we assume of a Rutgers president? He took no personal responsibility other than regrets that he should have watched the video when first confronted by Pernetti.
To Pernetti’s credit, his first instincts were to fire Rice, but brought it to Barchi for his review. Instead of offering to watch the same video Pernetti was referencing to fire Rice, Barchi instead insulated himself by bringing in the lawyers, HR, and then hiring an outside firm to make an assessment. 30 seconds with the DVD would have negated all those extra steps, but Barchi instead chose to hide behind “process” instead of taking personal responsibility.
The law firm contracted to assess Rice’s behavior concluded that Rice crossed the line of permissible conduct and “tended to bring shame and disgrace to Rutgers”, a clause in Rice’s contract that would allow Rutgers to fire him for cause. But Barchi at first declined to intervene, then fired him just because he could, but NOT for cause. Since the termination was not for cause, the university is on the hook to pay out over $1 million dollars to Rice when he could have made the right decision the first time and saved the payout and more importantly, saved Rutgers reputation, or at least limit the damages. Barchi’s lack of decision and then wrongful decision shows that he lacks the courage leadership we should expect from our university president.
As for Pernetti, he should have made the decision and then informed Barchi, but with the new guy in place, chose to involve Barchi in the termination decision. At that point, Pernetti lost control of the decision and it then lay in the lap of Barchi.
Pernetti is arguable the most influential AD Rutgers has seen. He brokered the Big 10 deal, the Highpoint Solutions deal, and the new TV deal. He has been on the forefront of making Rutgers a nationally recognized university. Barchi has undone all of that by allowing this to go viral and not step up and take responsibility.
It’s argued that Barchi has bigger fish to fry, namely the massive merger of the University of Medicine and Dentistry. Barchi’s background as a physician and scientist made him a logical choice for this major project, but that background is clearly not sufficient to run a world-class university like Rutgers. The merger role is best handled by someone with his background acting in a consultative role to a real university president. I suggest we transition Barchi to just that role and allow him to succeed where he is best, and start the search for a university president that will lead the entire university with courage and integrity, being personally responsible for everything that happens and not blame outcomes on a failure of process. Barchi’s is a failure of leadership and for that he must go.