The Trustees of The City University of New York passed a sweeping package of reforms of the university’s governance and administrative policies, creating greater transparency and accountability and putting CUNY in the vanguard of reform efforts in higher education, Board Chairperson William C. Thompson, Jr. and Chancellor James B. Milliken announced.
The changes are the product of an extensive review of administrative practices and financial management at CUNY led by Chancellor Milliken, in collaboration with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, to address concerns raised by New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.
In an interim report issued last year, the Inspector General recommended that “CUNY implement centralized spending policies to increase organization and uniformity of action and reduce the potential for fiscal mismanagement.” She also recommended that CUNY institute more “stringent controls over the relationships between all of CUNY-based foundations and their affiliates to ensure fiscal oversight of the foundation funds managed by the institutions.”
Chairperson Thompson said: “These important changes enacted by the Trustees, including more rigorous spending controls and a revamping of how CUNY foundations are managed, will help ensure the fiscal and ethical integrity of CUNY in all of its administrative operations. I want to thank the Chancellor and his staff, as well as the trustees, who put considerable time into these reform efforts, placing CUNY at the forefront of good governance in higher education.”
Chancellor Milliken said: “These measures will have a positive impact on CUNY for many years by ensuring the university lives up to the highest administrative and ethical standards and allowing CUNY to focus on fulfilling its special mission for the people of New York. I am grateful to the trustees for their leadership in strongly supporting reforms that will help us realize our new vision of making CUNY even more accessible to New Yorkers, sharply improving the quality of the education and our graduation rates and making sure our graduates are well prepared for the demands of the workplace.”
Under the direction of Chancellor Milliken, the university’s staff reviewed administrative practices and financial management at CUNY. As part of this review, the staff, working closely with members of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, worked with the Inspector General to address the concerns she had identified. Additionally, the Inspector General met with the Board to discuss her findings, and her staff held training sessions with University staff.
These collaborative efforts have resulted in several changes already approved by the Board, including establishment of a standing Audit Committee and revised Procurement Guidelines for the university. The new reform package will further increase transparency, especially in spending and funding sources, establish an improved accountability structure, institute more stringent controls over relationships with outside foundations, help the operations of the University perform more productively and modernize the University’s Executive Compensation Plan.
Max Berger, president of the foundation at CUNY’s Baruch College, The Baruch College Fund, who helped negotiate the new guidelines along with Barry Bryer, chairperson of The Queens College Foundation, and Cathy Weinroth, chairperson of The Hunter College Foundation, said, “The foundations appreciate the recognition by the Chancellor, CUNY’s Trustees and the Inspector General of the essential role CUNY college foundations play in supporting and enhancing the educational mission of CUNY. We are pleased to have been able to help reach an agreement on revised financial and oversight guidelines that do not inhibit our foundations in fulfilling our important mission of support to our colleges and students.”
The reforms include:
- Revised college foundation guidelines – last revised in 2007, the guidelines have been updated to reflect changes in law and to strengthen requirements for governance, accountability, transparency and financial controls.
- CUNY will renegotiate its 1983 agreement with the Research Foundation to ensure oversight and compliance in fiscal and legal matters, increase transparency in operations and reporting and improve communications regarding policies and procedures.
- New vehicle policy to align the CUNY policy with State of New York policies and limit the use of fleet vehicles to an as-needed basis, significantly reducing the size of the University fleet and redirecting the savings to core mission activities.
- A new policy on the use and reporting of non-tax levy funds by college presidents.
- The Executive Compensation Plan has been changed to eliminate compensation for Chancellor Emeritus and to adjust salary ranges for managerial employees along the same lines that the collectively bargained employees were adjusted last year.
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 400 high schools throughout the five boroughs. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.