CUNY Spent Over $1 Million a Year on Sponsorships, Donations, and Charities!

Dear Commons Community,

City University of New York (CUNY) was called out yesterday in the New York press for its practice of expending funds on sponsorchips, donations to non-profit organizations, and charities.  As reported in the New York Times:

In the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2015, CUNY, the nation’s largest public urban university system, spent $109,925 on sponsorships for parades like the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Bronx Dominican Day Parade, according to a CUNY spokesman, Frank Sobrino. It also spent $1.3 million for a variety of activities including buying tables at charity galas, making donations to organizations like the New-York Historical Society and Lincoln Center, and attending breakfasts held by the Association for a Better New York or Crain’s New York Business.

Since mid-2013, the spending has totaled $4.3 million, according to a summary provided by the university. Most of that spending has now been halted, Mr. Sobrino said.

The university said the money had come from the CUNY Research Foundation, which is already under scrutiny in a federal investigation into the financial dealings of Lisa S. Coico, a former president of the City College of New York.

The article went on to cite William C. Thompson, Jr., Chairman of the CUNY Board of Trustees:

“It was done without the checks and balances that should have existed,” said William C. Thompson Jr., and that it was acceptable to spend money to promote the university or do outreach at community events and similar activities, but that “spending over a million dollars on these things was outrageous, and it made no sense.”

“It was excessive and wasteful,” he added.

CUNY has been under a financial watch since problems at the university surfaced last year after The New York Times reported that the 21st Century Foundation, City College’s oldest alumni fund, had paid for personal expenses of Ms. Coico — money that the Research Foundation reimbursed. Ms. Coico resigned in October, and Mr. Thompson asked the state inspector general to investigate the university and its finances.

The inspector general released a preliminary report in November, detailing a host of lapses, financial abuses and mismanagement.

 The CUNY Board of Trustees was scheduled to take the issue up at its June meeting.



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