David Carnevale ’97 Letter to the Board of Trustees

From: David Carnevale
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 11:04:10 AM PST
Subject: Concern from an Alum

To the Whittier College Board of Trustees

I was outraged and disgusted to learn of your recent action of “suspension” of longtime trustees and college supporters Groce and Cross who have, apparently, since resigned from the Board. It’s even more disgusting that these actions were taken to “ride out” their board service so that you simply didn’t have to say they were removed from the Board and face the backlash of that greater decision. You have now gotten what you want without having to take responsibility for their removal.

But, did you know that Article 1 of your own Bylaws does not provide for a suspension of board members? Did you know that your own Bylaws do not allow you to block a standing member of the board from attending a scheduled board meeting?

You should be seriously concerned that your Board Chair and your Governance Chair have been so ignorant of the bylaws and so negligent in their duties and their advice to the greater board that they have now put you all at personal risk for legal action that most likely will not be covered by your D&O Insurance because it reflects a direct disregard of your bylaws. You should be even more concerned that your actions may also trigger a WASC investigation of governance as well as an investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office. Acting outside of your bylaws is a serious offense.

So my question that I ask you now is simple: Is it worth it? Is your blind faith in a negligent board chair and governance chair worth the risk that you have put yourself and more importantly the college at?

My second question is also simple: Why would you take a vote to remove or suspend a long-standing member of the board without a single bit of evidence presented? If this is your threshold for the burden of proof, don’t you realize YOU will be next? The next time you ask a question, the next time you question a decision, the next time you ask for proof or data you will be next on the chopping block. But my guess is you won’t have to worry about that because you haven’t asked those questions yet, you haven’t asked for proof of Miguel’s, Linda’s or Kenya’s lies to this point, so why would you do so moving forward?

Christina Bouchot, your board bio indicates that you help employers “maintain a positive company culture” and indicates that you are well-versed in employment and compliance issues. With your expertise, why have you failed to advise your fellow board members about the dangers of their actions? Why have you contributed to the fear-based community that blindly accepts recommendations of the chair without evidence? If Groce and Cross were employees of a company you were consulting for and who were suspended without cause or evidence, would you think this was acceptable? No. But somehow you think it is now.

Yvonne Romero da Silva, as a Vice President for Enrollment at Rice I can only assume that you have worked extensively with the Board at Rice. If you saw members of your Rice board removed without explanation, would you think that it was just? You may not have a vote on that board, but I’m sure you can deduce right from wrong. I’m sure you can see how uncommon and unprecedented the suspension/removal of a board member without evidence being presented or allegations being explained truly is. Why are you ok with this happening at Whittier College? As a side note, in your role as VP of Enrollment I can also assume you have sat through many State of the College addresses and even helped prep the president of Rice to deliver those addresses – how does a 15 minute pre-recorded address with no substantiated data followed by another 15 minutes of questions compare to what your own president presents? Why was this acceptable?

To those of you who voted to remove members of your board without evidence of cause being presented, you should really reconsider your own position on the board. You should review your own code of conduct and realize that you have failed to “promote justice for all and an equity-centered approach”, you have failed to “foster community and belonging”, you have stifled not stimulated “discovery and innovation” and you have acted with a complete lack of integrity or demonstrated respect. You have failed.


David C. Carnevale
Class of 1997

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