|The new Horn Hall at Williams College is named after Ragnor '85 and |
Joey Shaista Horn '87, a wealthy couple convicted of crimes in Norway.
As far as I can piece this together, Joey Shaista Horn ’87 is not some out-of-touch, hands-off trustee. Instead, she seems deeply involved in the business of the college, particularly in terms of efforts to bring more international students, such as herself, to the campus. (When she was a student, she was president of the International Students Club and performed Indian classical dance.)
In one of the college's webpages, she is said to have "led the charge" to bring more international students to campus. See, https://alumni-awards.williams.edu/frederick-c-copeland-award/joey-shaista-horn-class-of-1987/
Based on my experience with non-profit boards, I suspect that Joey Shaista Horn ’87 is indeed, as one of her au pairs described her, a perfectionist. It seems reasonable to me that this character flaw is one of the reasons she held on to her position as a trustee even as her husband was resigning left and right from his board-level commitments. She seems less willing than her husband to admit she made a serious mistake - punishable by incarceration and fines - and to accept the consequences of her poor decisions and lack of empathy. I think a healthier person would have resigned immediately, citing personal reasons, knowing the consequences this scandal would have for Williams College's reputation.
It may also be that Williams College tolerated (or even excused) Joey Shaista Horn's contemptible behavior out of a misplaced sympathy for her cultural heritage.
Unfortunately for her Filipino au pairs, not all aspects of Indian culture are as pleasant as the classical dance routines Joey Shaista Horn brought to campus in the late 1980's. Sadly, Indian culture has made it tolerant of holding the largest number of enslaved people in the world. As I understand it, a little over 18 million people — about the population of Chile — are still victims of contemporary slavery in India.
Frankly, I do not think it makes sense to neglect the contribution of Indian culture to her behavior. The au pairs report that they felt like "slaves" while they were in her household. Her own husband indicates that she was the one responsible for administering the au pairs. She certainly did not pick up her calloused attitude toward her au pairs from anything she learned in either European or American culture.
My guess is that she lasted as long as she did because she is a powerful board member, that she held on to avoid embarrassment, that her globalist vision is perfectly aligned with her fellow trustees, and that they were willing to cut her some slack because demanding her resignation would remind us all that cultural diversity is not necessarily a good thing, especially when one's received culture is relatively tolerant of the enslavement of others.
In more painful irony, it turns out Joey Shaista Horn ’87, who was based in Singapore when she came on board, was the very first international trustee. See, http://williamsrecord.com/2010/05/05/inside-the-boardroom-trustees-elucidate-role-at-the-college/ She was, initially, a triple affirmative action victory – Indian, female and international. In retrospect, I think she will soon be regarded as one of the trustee’s biggest mistakes. Maybe there should be a special trustee position set aside for the morally bankrupt/recently incarcerated?
NOTE: As a professional fundraiser myself, I would start picking away at this tangled mess by asking who on the development staff knew about her arrest in December 2014? I suspect that the folks who were taking credit for her $10 million gift had little incentive to shine the light on her creepy backstory.
In a recent article in the student-run, Williams Record, two reporters found that the trustee chair, Adam Falk and the development staff all knew about the Horn's arrest prior to accepting their $10 million naming rights gift for Horn Hall. You can now also open a copy of Joey Horn's post resignation explanation letter. From the article, it is clear that Adam Falk has lost his moral compass because he does not seem to get why a track-record of lying, criminality and abuse disqualifies someone from having their name proudly displayed on a student residence hall.
Finally, I suspect we will see that she is involved with other trustees at Williams College in ways that have nothing to do with the school. She may, for example, have been using her trustee position to market investment products to other trustees. It is entirely possible that she has entangled herself in their other business or charitable work too.
I predict her downfall will ensnare other trustees - as well as faculty, administrators and development staff - as it becomes more and more clear which of them knew about her dark side and which of them failed to confront it.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.