The Baltimore private school's board shows zero tolerance for resume padding, even for a manager with a five year track record of fundraising success.
The Baltimore Sun (Gina Davis) reports on the forced resignation of Jon C. McGill from the Gilman School, one of the city's most prestigious private boy's schools (upper school tuition, grades 9-12: $20,265). There isn't much in the story beyond what appears in a letter from the board chair Charles C. Fenwick, Jr. and the response by Mr. McGill. His infraction, which came to light in the course of an annual evaluation, was padding his resumé to claim membership on a university hockey team thirty years ago. He was shocked by the resignation request, but tendered it.
Mr. McGill had been with the school since 2001 and was nearing completion of a $50 million capital campaign (the Form 990 shows $7.2 million raised in the 2004-2005 school year). Mr. McGill received a comparatively modest $233,473 in compensation, including salary and other benefits.
The 60-person Gilman board (which includes just seven women, by my count) showed a lot of old-fashioned honor in standing by an absolute commitment to integrity. With so large a board, there would almost certainly be a smaller executive committee that would have been responsible for the personnel decision. Even so, it seems rare for a board to take such decisive action against a staff chief. (And after all, it is also an indictment of the board's own vetting process that this wasn't discovered in the original interview process.)
It is noteworthy in this regard that Gilman does not list the headmaster as a key employee in the Form 990, but only among the other highly paid employees listed in Schedule A. This is incompatible with the instructions for Form 990, which state unambiguously that the chief management or administrative officials of an organization are to be considered key employees. But in light of the actions taken by the board, it may reflect the reality of the headmaster's status at Gilman.
There seems to be a sharp contrast in the treatment of private school headmasters with that of heads of institutions of higher education (much less cultural institutions like the Getty and the Smithsonian.) Here there is no coddling of a demanding CEO, no accommodation for someone on the basis of fundraising prowess (which is alluded to in Mr. McGill's response letter).
What's the difference? I think it's obvious: parents. They care to the point of obsession about the quality of education their children receive. But once the kids reach college they are adults, and parents have far less direct input into the process (though many of them are still paying for it). Without that active interest and oversight by an outside group, governance suffers. Boards can't do it on their own—they have to have backup to show backbone.