UWM Chancellor Carlos Santiago is leaving to go to work for a non-profit in DC. His personal power base is so great, that his association with the new organization is enough to raise interest in it. Whatever they’re paying him, I suspect it’s worth it.
I have never met Mr. Santiago. No reason I should. I did come into proximity once. We were invited to lunch at the “U-Club” by a gentleman who had agreed to give us some advice on Shakespeare in the Park. He was already there and strategically seated before we arrived. He was at a table that ensured he was the first person you would see when anyone entered the dining room. You had to pass by his table in order to join the rest of your high powered lunch meeting at any other table.
This was no accident.
It became immediately obvious that the gentleman we were meeting had the highest status in the room. The swirl of power was mind-boggling. Not like icky, twisted, sycophantic, Gordon-Gecko-Greed. It was an ebb and flow worthy of the mechanisms of Queen Elizabeth’s court. It was all quite genteel – like a dance. Someone would enter the room, see the gentleman (our backs and profiles were to the door, his was facing it) and gracefully swerve his way, like a moth discovering flame. There was lots of physical connection, mostly warm hand shaking that held on for a second longer while the new entry paid his respects. No ring kissing and I never detected fear. But, there was a way to do things and this was part of it.
That’s how my orbit crossed with Carlos Santiago. There were never any introductions, but at that level, if you needed one, you obviously weren’t a player. I’m not a player. I’m an observer and a sponge. We were the beneficiaries of noblesse oblige. We were also under scrutiny. I detected numerous glances from the other tables – courtiers and princes who had already delivered their fond greetings and had made their ways to their corners. They wondered for the briefest moment who we were, just because we were at his table.
Lunch was superb and so were the lessons. These are the big boys (yes, many more boys than girls) and there is an entry fee. The advice that the gentleman gave was excellent, if a little bit beyond our current grasp. It was definitely, next level advice, but we’ve got to have something to aim for.
Congratulations to Mr. Santiago. Greater congratulations to his new employer.
Susan Scot Fry