Controversy keeps growing in IU-ChaCha deal

The Herald-Times of Bloomington, Indiana has followed up (subscription required) on our previous story questioning the Indiana University-ChaCha deal. The local paper's charitable conclusion: Neither side lied, but both independently made contradictory "inadvertent errors." As did the newspaper, in reporting on a new development — without pointing out the glaringly obvious ChaCha link. Newly appointed Indiana University trustee Jack Gill is not a full-time resident of Indiana, a requirement for trustees appointed by the Governor to the University — but he's also a venture capitalist and major investor in ChaCha (PDF).


As of May 31, Gill was listed, like university president Michael McRobbie, on ChaCha's board of directors (PDF). His appointment as trustee came on the same day IU and ChaCha announced their partnership. But you wouldn't know it from reading the Herald-Times — even though Steve Hinnefield, the same reporter who followed up on our story wrote about Gill's residency troubles.

Hinnefield writes, "Gill is getting positive response for the skills and experience he brings to the board of trustees." He fails to note the "positive response" is coming from ChaCha founder and CEO Scott Jones, whom Hinnefield merely identifies as "an IU alumnus and Indiana technology business leader." Here's what Jones has to say about ChaCha board member Gill:

I think it really helps our board of trustees to have someone of that stature, and someone that progressive. He's a visionary thinker about education in general.
Not only does Hinnefield fail to mention Jones's role in the drama, he never mentions Gill's role with ChaCha in a supposedly "complete" biography of the questionable appointee.

The reporter does end the story by giving Gill space to endorse new IU president and extremely recently former ChaCha Director Michael McRobbie. Gill claims he didn't even want to be a trustee; it was the attraction of working with McRobbie (again) that swayed him:

I think he's the right man for the right job at the right time. I just think he's a very insightful, decisive, dynamic yet sensitive leader.
Right. Of course, he's "the right man for the right job at the right time." Right now, McRobbie needs trustees who won't question the university's dealings with ChaCha. And Gill would be the last person to do that.