Alan Char­tock: SUNY sys­tem, pol­i­tics don't mix

The pro­fes­sor says SUNY is a great in­sti­tu­tion and politi­cians should keep their hands off of it.

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Alan Char­tock Capi­tol Con­nec­tion Sun­day Free­man colum­nist Alan Char­tock is a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the State Univer­sity of New York, pub­lisher of the Leg­isla­tive Gazette and CEO of the WAMC North­east Pub­lic Ra­dio Net­work. Read­ers can email him at alan@w

I worked for a long, long time as a SUNY pro­fes­sor, first at New Paltz, a cam­pus I truly loved, and then as a joint pro­fes­sor at SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Albany.

Dur­ing my ten­ure at SUNY, the univer­sity grew to be bet­ter and bet­ter. The students were bright and am­bi­tious and wanted to make their mark on the world and the tu­ition was rea­son­able, al­though noth­ing like Hunter College, which cost noth­ing when I went there. That should be the case for ev­ery de­serv­ing stu­dent. If we seek equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity, the only way to make that hap­pen is to en­sure everyone with the brains and the willpower gets a free college ed­u­ca­tion, just as they get a free high school ed­u­ca­tion. Today’s students are bur­dened with huge debts that they will be pay­ing off for years.

Show me a politi­cian and I’ll show you some­one who wants to get his or her hands on any­thing that’s big and of­fers the po­ten­tial for a re­turn on their in­vest­ment. The last sev­eral gov­er­nors have tried to get their clutches into the State Univer­sity and An­drew Cuomo is no dif­fer­ent. He knew ex­actly how to get what he wanted. He ap­pointed the mem­bers of the SUNY Board of Trus­tees and ap­pointed former New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall as chair­man of that board. McCall was a real Cuomo ad­ver­sary un­til that ap­point­ment. You will re­mem­ber that at the last minute when McCall had the chance to run against Ge­orge Pataki, Cuomo en­tered the race. McCall cor­rectly thought that Cuomo had helped to spoil his chances.

Cuomo saw SUNY as a big help in bring­ing bet­ter eco­nomic times to hurt­ing up­state New York. While some of us looked askance at his plans for ty­ing busi­ness to SUNY, we got the mes­sage. Many thought that a lib­eral arts ed­u­ca­tion should not be tied to busi­ness but we hoped that the busi­ness part would not over­whelm the pri­mary ed­u­ca­tional mission of SUNY. Af­ter all, SUNY had a great Chan­cel­lor in Nancy Zim­pher and we hoped that she could keep things in per­spec­tive.

Cuomo came up with a plan for tax avoid­ance for those who tied their busi­ness wagon to a SUNY cam­pus. Not only that, he had a top dog in the form of Alain Kaloyeros who had mas­ter­minded some­thing called SUNY Poly, a sep­a­rate cam­pus in Albany that seemed quite suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing high tech to up­state New York. Kaloyeros made more money than any­one on the state pay­roll. It seemed worth it.

But not so fast! Fight­ing U.S. At­tor­ney Preet Bharara re­cently named Kaloyeros, two of Cuomo’s best friends and a bunch of others in a 12-count fed­eral com­plaint for al­leged bid-rig­ging on bil­lion-dol­lar state-funded eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects in Syra­cuse and Buf­falo. Cuomo has been very em­bar­rassed by this and now has the un­mit­i­gated chutz­pah (nerve) to say that SUNY is a sep­a­rate agency and that he can’t be faulted for what they did. Will some­one please give me a break? The gov­er­nor was call­ing the SUNY shots and we all knew it. Everyone at SUNY was scared to death of the guy and it is ut­ter non­sense to say that SUNY was not his agency. It was and is and noth­ing is go­ing to change that.

Per­haps hav­ing had enough, Chan­cel­lor Zim­pher an­nounced sev­eral months ago that she was done at SUNY and would take a well-de­served re­tire­ment. I sus­pect that she had had enough of Cuomo’s in­ter­fer­ence. We also learned that the Leg­is­la­ture, bow­ing to Cuomo’s will, passed leg­is­la­tion not al­low­ing New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to au­dit the of­fend­ing SUNY-con­nected eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects. What a sham. That should be cor­rected im­me­di­ately by the As­sem­bly and Se­nate. This whole mess might well have been avoided had DiNapoli been al­lowed to do the job he was elected to do.

SUNY is a great in­sti­tu­tion and politi­cians should keep their hands off of it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.