President Ruth Simmons' decision to leave Goldman Sachs' Board of Directors earlier this month was not influenced by the Corporation, members of Brown's highest governing body told The Herald.
"I want to make it as clear as I can that, as she has noted, President Simmons kept the senior leadership apprised of her thinking and solicited our views," said Chancellor Thomas Tisch '76 P'07, the Corporation's leader and the University's highest officer. But the senior leadership's view, he said, "was that this really was a decision for her to make."
When asked what thoughts Simmons expressed in such discussions, Tisch said this sort of conversation from within the leadership of the Corporation would not be "well-served" by being made public.
In an interview with The Herald earlier this month, Simmons said she felt strongly that she doesn't "know enough as an individual" to make the decision to leave Goldman's board without others' input, so she discusses the matter with a committee of the Corporation periodically.
Before Simmons chose to leave Goldman's board, she discussed the decision with the committee, Tisch said. "She came and expressed what she was thinking, and given what she was thinking, we said it's a decision for her," Tisch said, adding that he "respects her decision not to stand for reelection."
Simmons' decision, officially announced Feb. 12, was not caused by a conflict of interest, Tisch said.
Matthew Mallow '64 P'02, the Corporation fellow responsible for acting on Simmons' behalf in the event of a conflict of interest, said such situations are "very occasional." Mallow also said he was not involved in discussions leading up to Simmons' decision not to stand for reelection to Goldman's board.
Regarding Simmons' motivation for the decision, Mallow said he knows only what has been made public through a Goldman press release, which cites "increasing time requirements associated with her position as President of Brown University" as the reason for her departure.
According to Tisch, recent discussions regarding Simmons' involvement on Goldman's board have been limited to the Corporation's four-member Committee on Senior Administration, composed of Tisch and the Corporation's vice chancellor, secretary and treasurer. He said the rest of the Corporation would be briefed on the discussions that occurred with Simmons at this weekend's meeting.