Anton Community Newspapers  •  132 East 2nd Street  •  Mineola, NY 11501  •  Phone: 516-747-8282  •  FAX: 516-742-5867
Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Letter: Let The Sun Shine In On SUNY Foundations

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.)

News

Bullying is a serious problem in today’s society and the controversial topic was the focus at last Saturday’s  'Bully-Proof Your Child Seminar’ at East Coast MMA & Fitness Center in Hicksville. State Senator Jack Martins and Legislator Rose Marie Walker attended the program which ran in the newly renovated center on Woodbury Road.

“Bullying is a real issue in our communities and I want to thank East Coast Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness for agreeing to host this forum,” said Martins. “Teaching our kids self defense to protect themselves or to protect those around them is a great thing. We need to take every opportunity to teach our kids important life lessons.”

Old classmates reignited friendships and shared memories of their teenage years as the Hicksville High School Class of 1964 came together recently to celebrate their 50th reunion at the Holiday Inn in Plainview.

Among the attendees was Bob Cheeseman who met his wife, Lorraine (Kirwan) in middle school. They were serious throughout high school and married soon after. Bob said, “I enlisted in high school and went into the Air Force. I did 30 years active Air Force and another 15 after that. I retired in 2010 as a Brigadier General. After I retired, my wife received a certificate from the Governor of Texas and was designated a Yellow Rose of Texas.”


Sports

The Hicksville boys volleyball team improved to 3-3 on the season by topping Sewanhaka in three sets by the scores of 25-14, 25-20 and 25-13.

“We lost the first few matches this year but bounced back to win the last three,” said Hicksville’s second year Head Coach Kevin Bunting. “We have a young team — we lost three starters last year. We have no seniors on this team, but we have three juniors,” he added. Bunting noted that it will bode well for next year’s team when they have even more experience to build on.

It seemed to happen in an instant.

Hicksville forward Michael Osmundsen was touching the ball past Kellenburg goalkeeper Jack Abuin to slot the ball into an empty net to score the lone goal in the non-league 1-0 victory over the Firebirds.

It’s nothing short of what Comets boys soccer head coach Scott Starkey would expect. He described his forward as “very explosive, fast and he’s not just fast — he’s tenacious.”


Calendar

Community Council Meeting

October 2

Indoor Garage Sale

October 5

Movie: God’s Not Dead

October 5



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com