Correction appended: A previous headline of this article incorrectly stated David Lampe’s title.
David Lampe, the University’s former vice president for communications who stepped down from his post on Friday, has recently been appointed to two positions — one as the University’s executive director of research communications, a newly created position he started yesterday, and another as a member of the editorial board for AnnArbor.com.
Lampe was appointed to the AnnArbor.com editorial board and first participated in conversations about the online news outlet’s editorial content on March 13, according to a March 13 AnnArbor.com article.
Several people who commented on the article wrote that Lampe’s appointment to the editorial board is a conflict of interest. Jim Carty, a former Ann Arbor News columnist and a current columnist for The New York Times, posted two comments arguing that Lampe hasn’t been in Ann Arbor long enough to have a “depth of knowledge about the community and its issues.”
Lampe moved to Ann Arbor in 2007 when he was hired as the University’s vice president of communications from 2007 until now. Before joining the University, Lampe worked at Harvard University Business School as the executive director of marketing and communications.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said he doesn’t think Lampe’s duties with the University will affect AnnArbor.com’s coverage of the University because Lampe won’t be involved in editorial board discussions pertaining to campus affairs. Fitzgerald added that he thinks it is important for the University to better connect with the Ann Arbor community, and Lampe’s new position will help facilitate that.
Tony Dearing, the chief content organizer for AnnArbor.com, said other University faculty have served on the paper’s editorial board in the past, including David Canter, executive director of the North Campus Research Complex, who was the director of health care research at the University’s William Davidson Institute at the time.
“It’s always been true of board members that they do not participate in any topic in which they would have any personal or professional conflict of interest,” Dearing said.
Fitzgerald said Lampe’s decision to serve on the editorial board is a personal issue.
“People engage in their communities on a lot of different levels,” Fitzgerald said. “Whether it’s a short-term assignment like this on an editorial board or sitting on a board of directors for a non-profit organization, those are all individual decisions people make about how they want to use their time and how they want to engage in the community.”
Lampe could not be reached for comment after several attempts by The Michigan Daily.
Dearing said Lampe was approached to be part of the editorial board because he brings insight as a former journalist. Dearing wrote in an e-mail interview that members are invited to join the editorial board based on their involvement in and knowledge of the Ann Arbor community.
“He brings an interesting voice to issues that we discuss that have nothing to do with the University,” Dearing said. “If we were to discuss a topic that had anything to do with the University, he would not be at that meeting or be involved in that process at all.”
In addition to his experience in public relations, Lampe has masters degrees in journalism and mechanical engineering.
Dearing said AnnArbor.com maintains a “firm difference” between news coverage and editorials, and board members aren’t paid for their work.
He added that the public has expressed concerns about conflicts of interest regarding AnnArbor.com’s editorial board members in the past. However, Dearing said board members always recuse themselves from discussing a topic or organization they are involved in.
He cited former board member Bob Guenzel, who was a Washtenaw County administrator. Guenzel wasn’t involved in the deliberations on editorials about the Washtenaw County commissioner, Dearing said.
Likewise, Dearing said Lampe’s presence on the board won’t influence news coverage of the University.