Professor’s open letter to the Board of Trustees of Bard College



Dear Members of the Board:

I have worked at the college for over thirty years.  I have invested much in Bard.  I am very concerned about the future of this college.  This future has never been in greater danger than it is today.  I feel that as a citizen of this college I cannot be silent.  This college, its history, people who have or are now working in it, and, most importantly, to its values are under threat.

At the end of January, George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundation, announced the creation of Open Society University Network (OSUN).  He also named Bard College as one of the principal partners in this educational venture.

According to official statements from Mr. Soros and Mr. Botstein, OSUN’s mission is to promote freedom and democracy.  In their announcements both Mr. Soros and Mr. Botstein promise that OSUN will observe the highest standards of openness and transparency that are, in their shared view, essential conditions for an open, democratic society OSUN seeks to foster.  That is how they both have presented this new venture to the public and to all of you.

One would expect that the organization that sets such high standards for its new venture should itself observe these standards in the way it operates.  Yet the reality is very different.

Transparify–an organization that rates transparency in organizations worldwide–rates the Open Society Foundations as highly opaque with zero transparency.  The question is, how can an organization with such a record ensure openness and transparency in OSUN?  Also, how can Bard and other educational institutions that have joined the new network, function in partnership with the organization that is highly opaque and has zero transparency?

These issues had to be discussed prior to the creation of OSUN.  Have you discussed them and, if you have, what have you concluded?  If you have not addressed these issues, the Board should revisit its decision.  This concern is not idle.  The future of the institution that is entrusted to you and the principles you enunciate in guiding this institution are at stake.  Your responsibility as trustees of Bard College is to uphold these principles.

Gennady Shkliarevsky

Professor of History Emeritus

Bard College

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