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University President Uses College Donation Funds for Personal Expenditures?


August 30, 2016
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Faculty at CUNY were relatively concerned when they noticed a $500,000 donation account only had $76 left in it. It was especially suspicious after City College President Lisa Coico previously used $150,000 towards personal expenses.

Faculty at CUNY were relatively concerned when they noticed a $500,000 donation account only had $76 left in it. It was especially suspicious after City College President Lisa Coico previously used $150,000 towards personal expenses.

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The account - the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Fund for the Arts - is intended to support the humanities and arts department at the City University of New York. The donation, which is part of the holdings of CUNY's 21st Century Foundation, serves as the "school's principal fund-raising arm," and was already under investigation. In May, The Times revealed that City College's 21st Century Foundation had paid for Coico's personal expenses, including "fruit baskets, housekeeping services and rugs," when she took office in 2010. The foundation was reimbursed $150,000 from the Research Foundation of the City University of New York, which manages research funds for CUNY. A CUNY spokesperson defended Coico, claiming the "expenditures were authorized by the CCNY 21st Century foundation" but that recent hire Coico "had not known that permission was [also] required by the university."

When CUNY faculty members initially demanded an explanation for the "improperly diverted" funds, they experienced "silence, delay and deflection" before reaching out to University Chancellor James B. Milliken. According to The New York Times, Milliken's "willingness to conduct an internal investigation suggests that the finances of City College, and the leadership of Mrs. Coico, are likely to be under more scrutiny."

Faculty members are “deeply concerned about the practical, ethical and legal implications of the situation.” CUNY isn’t the only school in such a predicament - chancellors at the University of California, Berkeley and at Davis have resigned over similar expenditure controversies. Currently, it is unknown “who withdrew the money, when and for what purpose."

How should the situation be remedied if the funds are found to be improperly diverted, again? Share with us your thoughts below.

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bishwajit panday  on  10/14/2016 9:53:50 PM commented:

My family is not to capable to complete my higher education with their little income. so please give me a scholarship so that I can complete my higher education.

Bishwajit panday  on  10/14/2016 9:50:28 PM commented:

If you give me a scholarship to complete my higher education, My life will be completely set. Otherwise I can not complete my higher education. please give me a scholarship.

Thomas f ribar  on  9/7/2016 2:51:17 AM commented:

Any person found to improperly use or divert university funds should be immediately suspended and after due process in the court system rendered a punishment that includes days working on the state highway crew pushing a shovel instead of sitting in prison. This is a crime against students and student funds which is some of the worst crime of all. There is a presedence already set in the state of Indiana for dishing out this type of punishment for stealing student funds.

Neal M  on  9/6/2016 6:45:32 PM commented:

I am writing as both a student and a member of a faculty for a small college where the arts are a large part of our identity. An independent auditor should be contracted concerning these discrepancies. If wrong doing is discovered, prosecution would be in order. If a person holds such important positions as these in the life of a school,then that person should know what monies are under their control.

Vincent Tombora  on  9/1/2016 12:04:57 PM commented:

I'm really appreciate and every one to join this campus in order to fulfil his or her profetional skills in this inconsiderable campus

Arianna S.  on  8/30/2016 5:56:26 PM commented:

It is disheartening to know that that money can be taken so easily and go undetected after people put work into earning it. I feel that the rules should be more strict and the account should be closely monitored by multiple people.

Donald J  on  8/30/2016 4:39:10 PM commented:

This is called robbery & she must be tried and jailed!

Robert Tashev  on  8/30/2016 3:12:05 PM commented:

My thoughts on this situation are personally relative to the ones of the faculty at CUNY. Do to the fact that money was missing from there treasury, they should reinfource there method of keeping track money. How they should do that well they can have more treasuries to keep track of all the money that's going in and out. Also, they can have more statements each month so that they can see where all the money is going ,and for what it is used for. I think if they accomplish that they will have a more safe treasury and money wouldn't disappear as the past.

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