Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, January 22, 2018

AU trustee resigns to join Trump administration

Gary Cohn will serve as Director of the National Economic Council

AU trustee resigns to join Trump administration

AU trustee Gary Cohn resigned from the Board of Trustees on Jan. 25 after accepting a position in President Donald Trump’s cabinet as Director of the National Economic Council, Student Government President Devontae Torriente confirmed during an Undergraduate Senate meeting on Sunday.

Cohn, a graduate of AU, also left his post as the president and chief operating officer (COO) for Goldman Sachs upon acceptance of his new position. He received stock ownership and a cash payout from Goldman Sachs totaling nearly $285 million, The New York Times reported.

Cohn’s meeting with Trump last December sparked a protest on the steps of the Mary Graydon Center. The Community Action and Social Justice Coalition organized the event to protest how the meeting presented a “conflict of interest” for Cohn, Moira Nolan, a senior and a participant in the protest said.

“We’re pretty pleased that he’s off the board and doesn’t have that voting power anymore,” Nolan said. “The fact that he’s on Trump’s cabinet and aligns himself with Trump’s racist, sexist, homophobic [and] xenophobic agenda clearly shows that he’s not in the position to make any decisions that are in the interest of the majority of the student body.”

Nolan also said Cohn’s position as a board member and as COO of Goldman Sachs allowed him to “profit off of predatory student loans” while also giving him the power to “vote on our tuition increase.”

Student trustee-elect and sophomore Valentina Fernández viewed Cohn’s resignation differently, saying that the board stood by Cohn’s decision to leave.

"I think the board respects his decision and understands why it happened," Fernandez said. "...The board is focused on setting a long term strategic vision for AU and helping the incoming leadership transition.”

Torriente, who wrote in his Facebook post that he had told board Chairman Jack Cassell that he felt Cohn should resign, said he was pleased with the announcement.

“I think it’s definitely for the better,” Torriente said. “I think a lot of students had many concerns [about] specifically what the Trump administration would do and what [that] means to them and for them and so I think it’s important that our leadership in the University reflects the concerns of the students.”

mcarrasco@theeagleonline.com


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