With the retirement of President Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., at the end of this academic year, the search for a new president is being conducted by a committee including Joseph Berardino, ’72, the embattled former Chief Executive Officer of Arthur Andersen.

It was under Berardino’s watch that the accounting scandal involving Andersen and its client, Enron, resulted in a tumultuous period for the industry. Berardino had not been CEO of Andersen during the majority of the time the scandal was perpetrated.

Berardino is a member of the Board of Trustees. Faculty, students, administration and alumni join this board in the search for a new president for Fairfield University.

Many shareholders of Enron stock lost their entire savings when the company collapsed and hold Berardino responsible for their loss since he was at the helm when the crisis became public.

The former CEO of Andersen was never charged with any involvement in the scandals that undid his company.

“Berardino has not been charged with any wrong doing and is guilty to date only of negative press coverage. Absent some more proof of his having done wrong there is no reason why he should not serve on a search committee to find a President for a Jesuit College,” said Dr. Donald Greenberg, associate professor of politics.

Berardino has placed most of the blame for the scandal that rocked Andersen on workers within Enron and said his accounting firm may have made some errors, but the vast majority of mistakes, which led to Enron’s disintegration, were completely out of his hands.

“This company [Enron] made bad business decisions,” he said, while testifying before the House Financial Services Committee last winter. “They made investments that didn’t pay off. At the end of the day, we do not cause companies to fail.”

Some students agree.

“I think that if he did not have any knowledge of the accounting practices, he can’t be held fully responsible,” said James Taglione, ’05, an accounting major. “Also, if he has been on the Board for several years and helping the school out, I don’t think he should be kicked off unless anything is proven.”

While the current president, Fr. Kelley, has not responded to questions regarding Berardino, Dr. Lisa Newton, the director of the applied ethics program, sees nothing wrong with his appointment. She believes that he did all he could to avoid trouble while working in the company and the indiscretions which occurred were inevitable and he could do nothing to stop them.

“As Berardino is the first to say, that does not exonerate him from responsibility [although it does exonerate him from blame, which is different]. He was at the helm, and never mind he was lied to and ignored by the miscreants; it was his job to stop them. May the next CEO in such a position learn from his mistakes,” she said.

Students and faculty who were interviewed support Berardino’s involvement with the Board of Trustees.

“In short, there was nothing at all wrong with the way he has behaved, he was not the cause of the trouble to Arthur Andersen’s stakeholders, indeed, he did everything he could to stop it,” Newton said.

“Berardino has been one of our most faithful and hard-working alumni, and he is a perfect choice for the search committee,” she said.

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