Over the past year, I've sat and watched the Burlington College episode, with Jane Sanders....proceed. It is a curious story.
Prior to 1971.....Burlington College didn't exist. Some folks met....talked over some ideas and had this vision of a private college that served the local community. Their eventual motto? "Light a fire".
In 1972, the basic charter was written and the college took off....well....slowly took off. In terms of student count....depending on who tells the story....they never got much past 300 students (that includes both full-time and part-time).
The campus? It was set to roughly 30 acres....fairly small by most standards.
In 2004, the college talked Jane Sanders (wife of Bernie) to become the President of the university. Her immediate goal...repair the schools's financial health. Part of this idea was to grow the university (more students) and part of this was to find someone to entice folks to donate to the school.
Six years go by and the school has gone out to buy property for $10 million....out on some lakefront area. Being lake-front....you can assume it was over-priced and probably not an economically wise idea.
To make the deal occur....Sanders had to go over to a bank and convince them this was great for the bank and money would roll in to pay the loan back. Whoever sat there at the bank and approved this....probably weren't that capable or competent.
It took almost a year for the whole thing to reach a level where the board of trustees with the school realized financially....they were screwed. Sanders resigns under pressure. Roughly three years will pass before the school's accreditation is in serious trouble because of all the financial troubles.
It's hard to figure the angle to the lake-front property. My guess is that some third party wanted the property for a lesser cost, and they convinced Sanders to make the move....get the loan....realize the screwed-up nature of having the property, and then sell it at loss to the third-party. Maybe a 20-to-40 percent loss....on a quick sale.
If you look over the resume of Sanders, there is little there to indicate that she had a business, real estate, or financial background. In other words, she was marginally capable of filling this type of position.
The legal folks? They will have to prove that she intentionally ran the college into the ground, or made money off this episode. I don't think they can prove such. If they do go into court....it'll be a short case where incompetence or marginal skills are laid out....which doesn't get you jail-time.
As for the college? I'd blame the the recruitment committee.....they knew precisely who they were hiring and of her limits. They got what they desired.