The Other McCain

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Oberlin President Says College’s Deficit Is ‘Unsustainable … We Will Not Exist’

Posted on | June 13, 2019 | Comments Off on Oberlin President Says College’s Deficit Is ‘Unsustainable … We Will Not Exist’


Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar testfied Wednesday as the lawsuit by Gibson’s Bakery has reached the punitive damages phase:

It was an odd day in the Ohio courtroom today. Oberlin College, which got socked with an $11.2 million verdict last week for their role in defaming a small business as racist, spent half the day saying they weren’t as bad as they seem, and the other half claiming they were much poorer than they seem.
As this Gibson Bros. v Oberlin College lawsuit hits the end of the line, with the jury deciding on whether “punitive” damages will be assessed to Oberlin College, much of the testimony today consisted of the jury hearing how much cash the school has. Or doesn’t have.
But at any time when one tries to define the monetary value of anyone – large institution or ordinary person — it usually comes down to how one might interpret what such fun terms as “revenues” and “expenses” and “deficits” actually mean. Sometimes those terms get interpreted in different ways to get the dollar number one wants.
Oberlin College was so hellbent on getting the message out that their cash liquidity was in such dire straits — as the eight-person jury was figuring out if they wish to add $22.4 million to the school’s legal verdict bill — that they brought out the school’s president, Carmen Twillie Ambar to the stand to tell that part the story.
“We’ve created deficits … and over the next ten years, if this continues, that is unsustainable and we will not exist,” Ambar told the jury. She even indicated the school’s grants — about $60 million a year from the school, and lots of students get those scholarships as only 10% of them pay the full $70,000 a year — were important to preserve as “the accessibility of education” was a key component of the school’s purpose. . . .
Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings, the Oberlin College vice president for finance and administration, was brought to the stand by the plaintiffs’ team to go over the numbers and show how the school had lots of money and how a few million more on this verdict wouldn’t hurt them. . . .
The college has more than $1 billion in funds and net assets according to the latest IRS 990 form, an endowment fund that had grown from $440 million to $887 million in the last 20 years, and because of its non-profit status, pays no taxes on any property it owns.
It also had 18 members of their administration making more than $100,00 a year. The president and chief financial officer of the school were both making more than $500,000 a year. . . .
As for [Oberlin Dean of Students] Meredith Raimondo, she was brought to the stand for a short period in what seemed like an excuse for the plaintiffs to show the jury more emails and texts she was privy to or that originated with her. The punitive stage demands the jury find “malice,” in their deliberations, and these emails and texts tended to prove some of that. . . .
Judge John R. Miraldi had ruled yesterday that an email written by Donica Thomas Varner, Oberlin College’s Vice President and General Counsel, who has been in court since day one, was inadmissible.

Notice that all four of the Oberlin administrators named here — Ambar, Vazquez-Skillings, Raimondo, Varner — are women. Is that just a random coincidence or, as I suspect, is it a result of deliberate anti-male discrimination at Oberlin? Three of them (Ambar, Vazquez-Skillings and Varner) are women of color, and we might further suspect that this reflects anti-white prejudice at Oberlin, which could be of interest to the jury in Lorain County, which is 85% white. Given that this is a case involving Oberlin students making false accusations of racism against private business owners, do you think the jurors will be moved to sympathy by Ambar’s reference to the college’s “unsustainable” deficits?

Oh, and Ambar is being paid more than $500,000 a year to preside over the social justice warrior training camp at Oberlin, while the annual median household income in Lorain County is $52,066.

Where I come from, there’s an old saying, “Payback is a bitch.”

UPDATE: Maximum Punitive Damages: Jury Rains Fire and Brimstone on Oberlin College



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