Setting the Record: New Trustee Defends His Ideas and His Name

Another assistant professor of history, Vernon Takeshita, has written a letter questioning my honesty and integrity regarding race issues. I hope it’s the last letter like that. As explained below, this certainly will be the last reply from me on this topic.

The terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center have scored one victory beyond the physical — they have reduced our freedom by causing us to have to deal with measures such as “red alerts” and a government takeover of airport security. The vision behind my election as a Trustee includes 1) championing freedom and free speech on campus and making the administration of the College more open and responsive, 2) preserving Dartmouth’s mission as a small, superb liberal arts college focused on undergraduate education and 3) using the benefits provided by the first two reforms to re-engage a large group of alumni/ae that is currently disaffected. Regarding my terrorist analogy above, I will not give up the freedom of action I earned in the Trustee election and abandon my big goals in order to write a weekly “I’m not a racist” rebuttal to letters like that of Professor Takeshita, who wrote an ad hominem attack replete with rants and factual misstatements. Screaming “racist” is the academic equivalent of the nuclear bomb that ends rational debate. I see that weapon used too often on the Dartmouth campus.

Here are some facts about minorities at my company: The latest report on Cypress Semiconductor Corporation shows a U.S. workforce of 2,123 people, of whom 40.6 percent are self-declared minorities (by law we cannot require people to declare if they are minorities, and many of our employees refuse to check any race box on their application form). Our San Jose workforce of 1,150 is even more diverse, with 52.8 percent identifying as minorities. Our U.S. minority population includes 308 people from India and 360 people from Asian countries, both groups lumped into the nonsensical, government-mandated “Asian” category. We also employ 88 African-Americans and 100 Hispanics.

These figures broadly reflect the workforce in Silicon Valley. We do, indeed, enjoy a diverse workplace. However, I believe that the diversity statistics cited, which the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finds meritorious, are meaningless. Cypress could be the best — or the worst — company in providing a racially harmonious workplace, despite these figures. The “diversitycrats,” who like to use narrow statistical categories to “prove” prejudice, ignore the only point that really matters: Does a statistically diverse group work together harmoniously in a merit-based society of equals? Or do they squabble endlessly over racial issues? Do people get promoted on hard work and merit? Or are the promotions awarded to minorities degraded by being quota-driven? Is the race issue a simmering cauldron of attacks and defenses, impairing organizational effectiveness? Or does the seamless organization spend its time striving to be excellent? Organizations run by top-down diversity bureaucracies are often the ones characterized by racial tension, in which every gesture and nuance of speech is hyper-analyzed on the basis of race and gender. The better alternative is a world where people simply respect each other as peers as they work together.

As for Professor Takeshita’s assertion that he would be surprised if I really knew what my immigrant workers thought about my company and me, I have some data that he may find more up-to-date than the stories he cites from unnamed “old Asian American guys” that “tell you about the discrimination they saw” and the “promotions that never materialized.” He is invited to call Emmanuel Hernandez, our Chief Financial Officer and an immigrant from the Philippines, or Antonio Alvarez, the Vice President and General Manager of our Memory Products Division ($440 million in revenue per year) and a Cuban immigrant, or Ilhan Refioglu the VP/GM of our Timing Technology Division ($160 million) and a Turkish immigrant, or Cathal Phelan, the VP/GM of our Personal Communications Division ($160 million) and an Irish immigrant who was recently naturalized. They are four of Cypress’ seven total Securities and Exchange Commission-recognized corporate VPs. (We have other employees with VP titles in our sales force, for example, that the SEC does not consider as “corporate officers,” the people legally responsible for running the company.)

Professor Takeshita derides my description of the current attacks on outsourcing as “low-class” and a “diatribe.” That’s because he clearly does not understand job and wealth creation. Here are a few more economic facts on the jobs we’ve created. Since our founding in 1983, Cypress has created 2,123 American jobs. In the last 10 years, we’ve paid $1,899 billion in wages, $40 million in direct taxes and $570 million more in withholding taxes for our employees. We have thus been a positive influence on both U.S. employment and the economy. Our shareholders have invested $322 million of their (retirement fund, college account and house savings account, among others) money in the company. The stock they hold is now worth $2.7 billion. When our investors sell their stock, they will pay at least $500 million more in taxes on their $2.4 billion capital gain, which will be reinvested to create more jobs. We export 61 percent of the chips we make in Minnesota and Texas, creating a net trade surplus. And yes, Professor Takeshita, we have also created 2,129 jobs offshore during that same period. The vast majority of our foreign workers perform test and packaging operations in our Philippines manufacturing plant — which is across the street from the Intel plant that packaged your Pentium chip and down the street from Analog Devices, the company that makes accelerometers for the airbags in your car.

And, to be completely forthright, we do have 100 engineers in Bangalore, and we do plan to double that number in a year or two. The unemployment rate in Silicon Valley is about 6 percent. That’s too high, but it means that 94 percent of the engineers here are off the market. India graduates four times more engineers than the U.S. does. It is therefore inevitable that U.S. companies must hire in India to remain competitive. Would you prefer that Hitachi hire those excellent Indian engineers and use them to compete with us? So, sir, to your question, “What can Rodgers say to graduates from Thayer when the very jobs for which they trained may not even be offered to them because of outsourcing?” My response is, “Send me your resumes — we hire many more engineers in the U.S. than elsewhere — and ignore Professor Takeshita’s diatribe.”

I close with one final point on admission preferences. Please read what I said before condemning my views. I do believe in a merit-only admissions policy — for the relatives of alumni, for the football team and for minorities. However, in a world where other admissions preferences exist, it would be unfair to challenge only minority preferences at Dartmouth. Furthermore, the issue of preferences has never been on my priority list or highlighted for action in my Trustee statement.

That said, the racially charged environment at Dartmouth, the one exemplified by Professor Takeshita’s letter, is a product of a “diversity machine” at Dartmouth that injects fear, hate and recrimination into the environment. That issue is on my “A” list for action.

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