Troy Shinbrot, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and former Senate Faculty Representative to the Board of Governors, is calling for increased transparency from the Board following an incident that occurred at the June 22 meeting.
After asking questions during the public comment section of the meeting, Shinbrot said both he and Charlie Kratovil, editor of New Brunswick Today, were declared “out of order” and could no longer speak. Additionally, Shinbrot said he was removed from the meeting by the chair of the Board, Mark Angelson.
Shinbrot said that Kratovil was declared out of order upon asking for the text of motions to be voted on, which included changes to bylaws of two Rutgers health group organizations and a $2 million retroactive waiver of bid to a Rutgers vendor.
When Shinbrot questioned why Kratovil was declared out of order, he faced the same declaration and was removed from the meeting, he said. After the meeting, Shinbrot submitted his letter of resignation.
“The Board of Governors’ bylaws provide that comments or presentations made at meetings must relate to agenda items and shall be subject to reasonable time limits,” said University spokesperson Carissa Sestito. “Comments or presentations that do not relate to agenda items or when speakers exceed reasonable time limits are deemed out of order.”
Sestito said Shinbrot’s resignation came shortly after the University Senate announced the election of a new representative. Sam Rabinowitz, a professor of management and area head for marketing, human resources and organizational behavior at Rutgers—Camden, is replacing Shinbrot for a one-year term that started on July 1.
Shinbrot said that he believes Angelson’s actions are a violation of the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act since the remarks made by himself and Kratovil were respectful and were given during the public comment section.
“I was outraged to see Professor Shinbrot, an honorable public servant, illegally removed and barred from the Board of Governors' June 22 meeting by Mark Angelson … I am sad to learn that Professor Shinbrot has resigned as a result of Angelson's disgraceful actions,” Kratovil said.
A similar incident occurred in February where both Shinbrot and Kratovil were declared out of order after asking questions at a Board meeting, the Targum previously reported. Shinbrot sent an email to the Board that month expressing his concerns regarding a lack of transparency and disallowance of public comments at meetings.
Shinbrot said the reason he ran for Senate Faculty Representative in the first place was to improve communication between the Rutgers community and the Board. He said he does not think this is a goal shared by the chair based on recent meetings.
“When an elected member of a board is censored and removed simply for asking for the rules to be obeyed, I believe the only honorable thing to do is to resign,” he said. “Remaining on the Board would only lend credibility to an inappropriate procedure.”
Shinbrot said multiple changes have to be made regarding the Board’s operations going forward, including providing faculty, staff and student representatives the same access as "professional managers," who are currently given more information and outnumber members.
Additionally, he said the Board has to obey its own rules and must value the University that it governs. Allowing for community input is just one important part of this process, Shinbrot said.
“Because decisions are being made on how Rutgers will function in the years ahead by a group so completely insulated from the teaching, research and service done by those of us who work and learn here … they cannot even tolerate a respectful two-minute comment from an (alumnus),” he said.
Shinbrot said he is hopeful that University President Jonathan Holloway and his administration can make necessary changes going forward and hopes that the positive words displayed so far are translated into actions.
“I believe in the beloved community advocated by President Holloway,” he said. “I believe in a pursuit of excellence and strategic clarity that he proposes. None of these are served by an insular board that only hears from professional managers.”
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated the Board of Governors announced the new University Senate representative. Additionally, the previous version stated that Charlie Kratovil was removed from the meeting.