Acceptance of Gifts Policy

December 2009

During this holiday season, please be reminded that the New York State Commission on Public Integrity (NYSCPI) through the Public Officers Law has established a zero tolerance policy regarding gifts of any value, from prohibited sources. The law has changed; the $75.00 limit on gifts no longer applies. Accordingly, as a CUNY employee you may not solicit or accept gifts, of any value, either directly or indirectly, from any prohibited source, regardless of whether the gift was intended to influence or reward you.

For purposes of this memorandum, prohibited sources, such as vendors, students, parents, or publishers, include not only those persons and business entities with which CUNY or its constituent Colleges are doing business, but also those persons and business entities interested in doing business with CUNY, or its constituent Colleges, or who have a history of doing business with CUNY or any of its constituent Colleges in the recent past.

In addition, gifts from CUNY subordinates to CUNY supervisors (this term includes managers, directors, deans, and all executive staff titles) are strictly prohibited. Such gifts violate § 74 (f) of the Public Officers Law:

An officer or employee of a state agency, member of the legislature or legislative employee should not by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.

Such activity may give an appearance of impropriety or give others a reasonable basis for the impression that someone can improperly influence you or that you are affected by kinship, rank, position, influence of person. Supervisors, however, may give modest gifts to their subordinates as tokens of their appreciation.

Click here to read Senior Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Frederick Schaffer’s December 2, 2009 holiday reminder memo to all CUNY employees and faculty members on the acceptance of gifts, plus get specific gift information from the Commission about what you can and cannot do and applicable rules.

Click here to visit the CUNY OGC website and review prior “Ethics Bulletins” on gifts. Additional ethics information is available at the Commission’s website at or by calling the Commission at 518-408-3976. E-mail inquiries may be sent to

If you have any questions regarding this requirement and how it may relate to you, I encourage you to ask before you act and contact the Central Office Ethics Officer Ms. Sonia Pearson at

If you receive such a gift, please send it back to the person/entity along with this sample letter prepared by our General Counsel’s Office.