After categorically denying an assertion by convicted felon Bernie Madoff that Harvard Business School was working on a case study with him, on September 6 Harvard acknowledged that an unnamed professor was in fact in touch with the Ponzi scheme felon.
A reporter for The New York Times, Diana B. Henriques, recently wrote that a professor at the school wrote to Mr. Madoff in February proposing to do a case study based on his career experiences.
“A follow-up letter from the professor in late March indicated that Mr. Madoff had agreed to exchange emails with the professor, whose name he agreed to keep confidential,” wrote Henriques. “The professor, while holding Mr. Madoff to his promise of confidentiality, confirmed that his communication with Mr. Madoff is continuing.
“A spokesman for Harvard acknowledged — after being informed last week about the correspondence, which was obtained by this reporter in the course of research for the book “The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust” — that the business school’s previous denial had been a bit hasty,” she added.
“Upon further investigation,” the spokesman wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday that, “we have found that there is, as you indicated, a faculty member here working on a long-term project involving several convicted white-collar felons (including Madoff).”
According to the spokesman, the research is is aimed at identifying the “pressures, circumstances, emotions, etc.” that prompted the felons to commit their crimes. The result, he continued, will be “a series of case studies” that would be part of some future course at the school or the basis for some future publication.