I write with respect to the editorial, “Sexual assault allegations against trustee must be addressed”, published in The Miscellany News on Nove. 2, 2016, to clarify certain statements made in that editorial.
The Board of Trustees welcomes student interest in our activities and our members. As you state in the editorial, our ranks include a Student Observer, a position always held by the then-current President of the Vassar Students Association, and he or she should be an excellent source of information about the Board’s activities for the students. Members of the VSA Executive Board also meet regularly with the Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees. The President of Vassar is a member of the Board of Trustees, which delegates responsibility, with accountability, over operations of the College to the President, who is also an on-campus source of information about our activities.
With respect to Richard W. Roberts ’74, last spring when the disputed allegations involving him to which you refer were first filed, he immediately offered to do whatever was in the best interests of the College, including taking a leave of absence from the Board of Trustees pending final resolution of the judicial and other proceedings in which he is involved. Mr. Roberts is now voluntarily on such a leave of absence from the Board.
With respect to indemnification of trustees, your attempted close reading of the By-Laws of the Board of Trustees contained in the College Governance unfortunately missed a critical phrase—that indemnification is only available for liabilities incurred in connection with legal actions involving trustees by reason of being or having been (emphasis added) a trustee. Indemnification is not available to trustees generally, but is intended to protect trustees only for actions they take or omit to take while performing their duties as a trustee of Vassar College.
– Bill Plapinger ’74 P’10
Chair, Board of Trustees