"Burning Down His House," an article in the current edition of New York magazine, focuses on Richard "Dick" Fuld (pictured), the CEO of Lehman Brothers, the largest financial-services business to fail in the current economic fiasco, as well as the most prominent firm not to benefit from the sort of federal government rescue instituted on behalf of corporations such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Citigroup. The piece grapples with the question of whether or not Fuld is the "villain" of the crisis, as Florida congressman John Mica claimed during an October hearing. But along the way, writer Steve Fishman includes a quote sure to distress representatives of the University of Colorado-Boulder, from which Fuld earned a degree in 1969.
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The key passage involves the team Fuld assembled to support him upon becoming Lehman's chief executive in 1994 -- most prominently Joe Gregory, installed as president:
Fuld quickly cleaned house and promoted Gregory. "You're the best business fixer I have," Fuld told him. In 1996, Fuld formed an executive committee, appointing Gregory and a half-dozen others. "Everybody in his inner circle had equally undistinguished backgrounds, not top schools, not top-decile performers," said one former associate, an investment banker. There was barely an Ivy League degree among them--Fuld had graduated from the University of Colorado, Gregory was a Hofstra alumnus.
Of course, odds are slim that CU has been touting Fuld as one of its prominent alumni in recent months. Still, a major profile that dismisses the university as "undistinguished" and far from the upper echelon of educational institutions adds insult to associated injury. -- Michael Roberts