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Syracuse University Students Under The Impression Jamie Dimon Is Not Good Enough For THEM (Update)

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A couple weeks ago we mentioned the fact that Jamie Dimon would be Syracuse University's commencement speaker this May. This was prior to the Orangemen being knocked out of the tournament and at the time we warned that as James Dimon only addressed champions, they'd best not fuck things up. As you know, that's exactly what they did. And yet, being the big-hearted, strapping CEO he is, Dimon did not back out of the gig, figuring he'd fill his quota for charity cases for the year. This afternoon we received some interesting info. Namely that the "Cuse" is "concerned" about hosting Jamie. That's right. THEY are worried about having HIM. Which, I don't have to tell you, is pretty fucking galling. The only person who should be reevaluating this situation is JD. Why don't you kids win something and then you can start "expressing your concerns."

Subject: Message From Chancellor Nancy Cantor

April 9, 2010

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

As we approach commencement, there have been concerns expressed over the choice of Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, as this year’s commencement speaker. In my experience, virtually every commencement speaker arouses a broad array of reactions, in line with the diversity of interests, opinions, and passions on a university campus, though I understand that in this economic climate the concerns may be especially acute.

In fact, it is rare that a university is able to bring a speaker with a birds-eye view of, and extensive on-the-ground experience with, a major global challenge, and that was in the forefront of my mind as I made my selection this year. Every year, a committee of Student Marshals and Student Trustee Representatives provides me with a long list of potential speakers, recognizing that securing a commencement speaker is not an easy task, and they typically also give me a more selective top list. I am very pleased that this year’s speaker once again comes from that shorter top list.

Indeed, this year’s commencement speaker brings a unique perspective from the field of business -- a discipline that has not been represented by a University commencement speaker in at least 20 years. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the selection, there is no question that Mr. Dimon is playing a key role, front and center in addressing one of, if not the major global challenge(s) of our day. Unquestionably, this is a special choice for those graduates with interests in business and finance, though interestingly the reach of a global financial services company extends across many different disciplines at Syracuse – including technologists, marketers, psychologists, designers – to name only a few who may find their way into the business and finance sector. Even more relevant, in my view, Mr. Dimon can speak with widely recognized authority to issues that inevitably will shape the landscape of opportunity and prosperity for all of our graduates, no matter their field or geographical location or perspective on the world.

Jamie Dimon is lauded not only for his vast experience and accomplished leadership in a wide-ranging career in banking, and his active engagement of broad economic issues nationally and around the world, but also for his commitment to education and innovation. At Syracuse, we have seen the leadership he shows, as he endorsed the far-reaching collaboration in Global Enterprise Technology between SU and the technology leaders at JPMorgan Chase, which has been brought to life with our faculty and students in a new curriculum, research program, and technology center at Syracuse. Beyond our campus, millions of people all around the world recognize that Jamie Dimon is a leader whose voice is timely and seasoned, no matter whether one agrees or disagrees, reveres or rejects, his specific economic policies, corporate actions, or leadership approach. He, too, is a star with a broad reach.

Once again, I respect and value the array of reactions to this choice of speaker, even as I hope that we can come together and benefit from hearing from a world-renowned business leader located in the center of one of the world’s most influential companies, in an industry that simply has to be part of the solution, though not the only part, to a path toward economic stability for our nation and for all nations and peoples world-wide.


Nancy Cantor

UPDATE: This is what preceded the email:

About 30 students gathered in Schine Student Center’s Panasci Lounge on Wednesday to form a plan of action to remove JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon as the 2010 commencement speaker. “When we feel wronged, we have the idea that we can raise up,” said Ashley Owens, one of the meeting’s leaders and a senior magazine journalism and geography major, before the meeting. “We need to be shown that there’s a vehicle with which to do so.”

Suggestions for how to change the commencement speaker included staging a protest, contacting media outlets such as The New York Times for national publicity, writing a letter to Dimon asking him to step down, and contacting faculty and staff members who are also angry with the commencement speaker choice. The students broke into groups to work on each plan. Adrienne Garcia spoke for the group focused on campus mobilization, including the Take Back Commencement rally. In addition to the rally, the group discussed acting in unison at least once a week until commencement. Other ideas included holding hands around the administration building when the chancellor and others are leaving work.

The group also suggested holding a vigil for all students struggling to pay for college. After the vigil, the group wants students to walk toward the administration building and snap wooden pencils on the ground. “We want to have a vigil for everyone who had to drop out and everyone across America who is suffering from what JPMorgan represents,” Garcia said. The group focused on finding a new speaker is considering finding someone who has been affected or wronged by JPMorgan

While the group may go around the administration and directly to Dimon, it plans to make the students’ discontent so well known that the administration cannot ignore it, she said. “The idea is to cause so much of a ruckus that they’re embarrassed to have him speak here,” she said.


Columbia University Students, Faculty, Alums Demand CU President Take Back All The Nice Things He Said About Jamie Dimon

As you may have noticed, Jamie Dimon has had some unwanted attention thrown his way over the last several weeks, on account of one of his employees losing a few billion dollars. Though the JPMorgan CEO has been dealing with public displays of hate previously reserved for Lloyd Blankfein and Goldman Sachs, and will certainly be on the receiving end of a lot more tomorrow when he testifies on Capitol Hill, he has had a few people come to his (and his bank's) defense. Yesterday Stephen Schwarzman told Bloomberg to lay off JD and JPM, noting that "occasional losses are inevitable" and "publicly excoriating JPMorgan serves no purpose except to reduce people’s confidence in the financial system," while former Goldman exec Bill Archer said the whale fail makes him just "kind of shrug." Lee Bollinger, who is President of Columbia and chairman of the Federal Bank of New York's board of directors told the Journal that Dimon shouldn't step down from his post as a director, as some have requested, and that those who cite conflicts of interest have a "false understanding of how [the Fed] works." Some individuals from the Columbia community read Bollinger's comment and, spoiler alert, are not happy. Enter, a strongly worded letter. Mr. Lee Bollinger President of Columbia University Office of the President 202 Low Library 535 West 116th Street, Mail Code 4309 New York, NY 10027 Dear President Bollinger, As faculty, alumni and students of Columbia University, we are writing to express our deep disappointment in your recent decision to support JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon’s continued membership on the Board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. As the Chairman of the Board of the New York Fed, your unambiguous duty - as stated by the Guide to Conduct – is to maintain “the integrity, dignity, and reputation of the Federal Reserve System . . . and to avoid actions that might impair the effectiveness of System operations or in any way tend to discredit the System.” By supporting Mr. Dimon’s tenure you abdicated this basic responsibility. By echoing Mr. Ben Bernanke’s remarks that it is up to Congress to address this problem, you denied your duty to ensure the integrity of the Fed. By stating that Congress has more pressing issues to address than this one, you, in essence, urged inaction by all parties capable of affecting this important change. Surely you understand that a functioning financial system is a pre-requisite of our country’s economic recovery. By characterizing those who wish to see Mr. Dimon resign as “foolish” and in possession of a “false understanding” of how the Fed works, you have added insult – and inaccuracy – to the injury of encouraging this institution to continue in its current form. It is worth reminding you that JPMorgan Chase is currently under investigation for its recent $3 billion trading loss – a loss Mr. Dimon initially denied and then characterized as a ‘tempest in a teapot.’ It may also bear repeating that Mr. Dimon has long campaigned aggressively against important regulatory reforms designed to prevent excessive risk taking by Too Big To Fail institutions – institutions the Federal Reserve saved with $3 trillion dollars in special lending facilities and which Congress bailed out with $700 billion of taxpayers’ money. Certainly Mr. Dimon has no place as a leader of this institution. We urge you to reverse your support for Mr. Dimon and call for his immediate resignation. By way of reminder, there is precedent for this kind of action. In April 2011, Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO of General Electric, stepped down from the NY Fed after it was clear that GE Capital would be regulated by the Fed as a ‘systematically important’ financial institution. As one of the largest banks in the world, JP Morgan is similarly – if not more ‘systemically important.’ As an educator, you have a special responsibility to demonstrate moral and intellectual credibility, something you have failed to do in this situation. As the president of a university, you have a responsibility to ensure that students have the best possible opportunities upon graduation. Surely you understand the connection between the unemployment crisis facing young people in America and the 2008 financial collapse. That collapse not only threatened the employment potential of millions of American students, but also risked the fiscal health of the parents and grandparents who co-signed their educational loans. That you would choose to uphold the interests of major financial institutions over students and their families is unimaginable. We certainly hope that the contributions made to Columbia by JPMorgan – sums north of $500,000 – had nothing to do with your decision. Three years after the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the country is struggling to rebuild its economy. A stable and appropriately governed financial system is a critical pre-requisite of our recovery. As the Chairman of the NY Fed, we urge you to take the obvious step of demanding Mr. Dimon’s resignation. Thank you, Current Students, Alumni and Faculty of Columbia University Richard Adams Graduate Student and Alumnus Marcellus Andrews Professor of Economics Columbia University John Atlas President of the National Housing Institute Charles H. Revson Fellow, 2004 Partha Banerjee J-School, 2000 Hilary Beattie Asst. Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry Carl Bettendorf Alumnus and Adjunct Faculty Lila Braine Dana Burnell Alumni Sylvia Bettendorf Student Jamie Chen CC Class of '09 Paul Colson Faculty Jonathan Crissman Student Mina Dadgar Alumni Carolyn Douglas Associate Professor of Psychiatry Nnaemeka Ekwelum Class of 2012 Tim Foreman Student David Friedman Officer Danielle G. Student Nancy Goody Alumnae -GS of Arch & HP Warren Green Administrator Robert Hanning William D. Hartung Center for International Policy Columbia College Class of 1978 James Hone Faculty Bonnie Kaufman Faculty, Medical School Jee Kim Columbia College, ‘95 Susan Lob Adjunct Faculty and Alumni Barbara Lundblad Faculty Union Theological Seminary John Markowitz Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Alumnus College '76, GSAS '78, P&S '82 Rangi McNeil School of the Arts Alumni Sara Minard Faculty Federick Neuhouser Professor of Philosophy Michael Newell Kaveh Niazi Alumni Jeffrey Ordower Columbia College Class of 1991 Alexandra Pines Class of 2016 Ai-jen Poo Director National Domestic Workers Alliance Bill Ragen Columbia College 1980 Yuliya Rimsky Columbia University Alumnus Class of 2012 & SIPA student Class of 2014 Katherine Roberts Alumna, GSAS Eva Salzman Alumni Jeff Schneider Alumni Shruti Sehgal BC Alumnus, Class of 2011 Eric J. Schoenberg Adjunct Associate Professor Columbia Business School The Honorable David Segal Former RI state representative CC ‘01 Anat Shenker-Osorio Founder and Principal, ASO Communications, Columbia College '99 Kobi Skolnick Current student of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Class of 2013 Jill Strauss Denise J. Tartaglia Alumni Stephanie Taylor Co-Founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Columbia University alumni, SOA '07 Alan Wallach Alumnus Mark Watson Alumnus James Williams Officer Libraries Thomas J. Yager Associate Research Scientist, Mailman School of Public Health