Friday, 27 April 2012 00:00
You would expect an organization created for public benefit that is largely led by government officials would be obligated to report to the public about its activities. Yet the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) and its many campus foundations are not required to do so and apparently feel no such compulsion to share information with the public. Instead, these organizations often cloak their activities in secrecy.
As president of United University Professions – the union representing academic and professional faculty at SUNY’s state-operated campuses – I think it’s time to let the sun shine in. It’s time to require the SUNY Research Foundation and campus foundations to be held accountable and to be more transparent.
For years, these foundations have behaved much like shadow government agencies. They typically refuse to provide detailed answers about what they are doing regarding hiring and pay practices. For example, the Research Foundation handles nearly $1 billion in research grants annually from both government and private sources. The campus foundations have become vehicles for the distribution of millions of dollars in funds that should be directly targeted to improving the university’s academic mission.
The SUNY Research Foundation says its mission is to “…support research and discovery at SUNY…and sharing of intellectual property for public benefit and economic growth.” But how do we know the foundation is properly fulfilling that noble-sounding mission? That’s a legitimate question, in the wake of critical news reports, investigations and remarks by some public officials questioning the spending practices and clandestine activities of the foundations.
Then there was last year’s 90-page study commissioned by SUNY and conducted by a consultant for a Washington D.C. law firm about the relationship between SUNY and the Research Foundation last year. The study determined the foundation did not act solely as a service organization devoted to SUNY’s priorities. “Rather, it aspires to and increasingly does chart its own independent course, regardless of SUNY’s views,” the study found.
I believe the time has come for the legislature to intervene. A bill that would require greater accountability and transparency for the SUNY Research Foundation has been introduced in both houses of the legislature (S.5797/A.7789-E). The legislation would expand the definition of a state agency to include entities such as the Research Foundation and SUNY’s campus foundations that are affiliated with SUNY or its institutions. That designation would make them subject to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
Passage of this legislation would ensure that the Research Foundation – which administers more than $1 billion in research each year – is more open and transparent, thereby serving the best interests of the public as its mission defines.
SUNY has indicated that it, too, supports such a bill in principle.
I encourage state lawmakers to approve this vital piece of legislation.
Phillip H. Smith
(The writer is president of United University Professions, the union that represents 35,000 faculty and professional staff at SUNY’s state-operated campuses.)
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Hicksville School District Superintendent Maureen Bright gave an overall picture of the district profile at the school board meeting last Wednesday night. The meeting was the final one before the upcoming budget vote, which will take place on Tuesday, May 21 at Hicksville High School from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The total number for the 2013-14 proposed budget is $124,595,008. This is a 3.29 percent increase or $3,963,375 from the 2012-13 school year. In 2012-13 the total budget was $120,631,633.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
On Saturday, May 11 the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of Nassau County held their Annual POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony at St. Frances de Chantal Parish in Wantagh. This is the 15th year for the ceremony, originally started by the late Tom Benet and the late Vincent Esposito as a way to honor those military brethren who are still listed as prisoners of war (POW), or missing in action (MIA).
Rick Gales, Town of Hempstead Veteran Affairs liaison, quartermaster of the Elmont VFW, and Nassau County Chairman of the POW/MIA Committee continues the tradition and told Anton Newspapers that the POW/MIA ceremonies are usually held in April or May, coinciding with the fall of Vietnam and the end of a war era.
In 2010, the Department of Defense reported more than 1,700 Vietnam era soldiers as POW/MIA status.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00James Russo, 11, of Hicksville, came in sixth place in the States Competition at 120lbs. Ryan Schecht, 11, of Hicksville, placed third in the States at 105lbs, and is on his way to the Nationals Championship.
Thursday, 09 May 2013 00:00
Seasonal beach stickers may be purchased beginning on Saturday, May 11, so that residents may get their beach stickers ahead of time and avoid the rush during the Memorial Day weekend, when some town beaches will open for weekends.
“So many residents enjoy the beautiful beaches that we have here in the Town of Oyster Bay and eagerly look forward to the first opportunity to enjoy those beaches during the Memorial Day weekend,” Councilman Joseph Pinto said. “Town residents, who purchase a town beach sticker in advance of the beaches opening, will avoid the possibility of waiting in line during opening weekend.”