Council Changes Good for CUNY
It’s been a long time coming. I have been a PSC political activist for more than 13 years, beginning in 2000, when the New Caucus was elected to the leadership of the PSC. Not only did the leadership of the PSC change after term limits were instituted, but so did the City Council. The PSC legislation committee went to work to elect a grassroots-oriented council. We brought in many allies who became advocates for CUNY, including Gifford Miller, the speaker. However, there was not a chief executive to partner with the council. The union found itself in the position of defending CUNY against Rudy Giuliani’s attacks. When Christine Quinn became council speaker, she aligned herself with Michael Bloomberg and was not as accessible to the union as Miller had been.
With our efforts and those of political activists all over the city, we have achieved the best that we could have hoped for, a progressive mayor and, a progressive speaker of the council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has appointed Inez Barron as chair of the Committee on Higher Education. The expectation is that she will be as open to the PSC as her husband Charles Barron was when he chaired the same committee throughout the Bloomberg and Quinn years.
So, the PSC Legislative Committee is well positioned to advocate for CUNY. But we cannot do it by ourselves. We are 20 strong, but every member of the union should be involved to support Bill de Blasio’s effort to raise taxes on the rich and allocate the funds to CUNY that he promised.
Baruch College (retired)
Editor’s note: Readers interested in more information on the PSC Legislative Committee can contact Amanda Magalhaes at amagalhaes @pscmail.org or 212-354-1252.
Transparency Needed in Engineering Endowment
In recognition of the pivotal role that City College contributed to his intellectual development, Dr. Andrew Grove (previously CEO of Intel, giant of the information age and a City College 1960 alumnus) endowed CCNY’s School of Engineering with a generous gift of $26 million. The terms of this gift stipulated that full financial reports on the expenditures from this endowment be prepared annually.
Despite many requests in faculty meetings, no financial report was made available. Recently, concerns mounted when no confirmation was obtained that certain endowment expenditures were actually authorized by the dean of engineering. As a result, I proceeded, as an individual, with filing a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to obtain these reports. The case had to be appealed to the vice chancellor for legal affairs to ensure the CCNY administration’s compliance with my request. Unfortunately, the reports received were not consolidated, making it impossible to form a true picture of the endowment income and expenditures; furthermore, certain information in the documents did not reconcile with other independent available pieces of information.
Asserting its responsibility under shared governance, the faculty of the school voted in its December 12, 2013, meeting for a resolution requesting that the City College administration provide a complete, consolidated and unambiguous report on the endowment finances (ccny.cuny.edu/eleceng/endowment.cfm). As of January 30, 2014, the City College administration has not complied with the faculty resolution.
Are the causes of transparency and accountability being well-served by the above described practices?
Will this financial opaqueness encourage future potential donors to give?