The Trustees of The City University of New York enacted on Monday a second round of reforms of the university’s governance and administrative policies, ensuring greater transparency and accountability by CUNY and its 24 individual institutions. Along with changes adopted by the board in June, the revised policies put CUNY at the vanguard of financial integrity in higher education, said Board Chairperson William C. Thompson, Jr.
The new policies strengthen governance on all CUNY campuses in areas ranging from day-to-day fiscal management to financial relationships between the colleges and independent entities that support them. This second round of policy changes this year follow a broad review of administrative practices and financial management at CUNY 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 and more rigorous controls over the financial management of CUNY-based foundations and their affiliates.
Chairperson Thompson said: “This series of changes, together with those the Board of Trustees adopted in January, February and June, signify our ongoing commitment to the highest level of fiscal and ethical integrity for the City University of New York. The Board of Trustees’ focus is and will continue to be supporting the best interests of our students. Please be assured that we take our responsibility very seriously and are committed to increasing transparency and accountability at CUNY. It is in everyone’s best interest to responsibly grow and upgrade the precious gem that is CUNY.” Thompson added that “The Board and I will continue to work with the Chancellor to ensure that every dollar preserved is a dollar reinvested in the futures of New York City’s families.”
Chancellor Milliken said: “CUNY is a large and complex educational enterprise with significant administrative functions centrally and at each of its 24 campuses. Developing new policies that strengthen our fiscal oversight and accountability, ensure the highest ethical standards and, where possible, streamline our administrative operations, is key to CUNY’s continued success. I am grateful to the CUNY trustees for their leadership and support in this endeavor, as well as to the administrative leadership across the university. Though these reforms are largely administrative in nature, they are critical to our commitment to our students and the people of New York. To ensure that CUNY continues to be the most important engine of economic and social mobility in the country demands that we operate with the highest standards and adopt best governance and administrative practices across the university.”
The second series of reforms adopted Monday include:
- Updated guidelines for CUNY’s Auxiliary Enterprise Corporations (AECs), which are independent entities that support specific colleges and schools within the University. Last revised in 2007, the guidelines reflect changes in the law and strengthen requirements for governance, accountability, transparency and financial controls. The AECs provide non-instructional auxiliary enterprises and services such as administration of college food services, vending, bookstores, parking operations and short-term licensing of college facilities.
- Revised policies for the use of college facilities by outside entities for events, programs and meetings. CUNY colleges are permitted to charge fees and direct costs for the use of their facilities. The policy has been updated to strengthen accountability, transparency and financial controls and to ensure that revenues collected from use fees are spent in compliance with revised CUNY spending policies. The new policy also permits college administrations to deny use of facilities under certain circumstances.
- New policies to strengthen accountability regarding the University’s banking and cash management. Guidelines have recently been separated into individual policies for three financial areas—cash accountability, bank account control and petty cash. The new policies, which clarify guidelines issued in 2008 by the Office of the University Controller (now the University Office of Budget and Finance), focus on standardization, oversight, internal controls and accountability.
- An amendment to guidelines regarding the use and reporting of non-tax levy funds adopted by the Board of Trustees in June. The new resolution modifies the annual reporting structure to include the central office, and authorizes management to begin to transition non-tax levy funding sources into its integrated CUNYfirst financial system.
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.