Our ongoing UB AAUP advocacy chapter work in support of UBF transparency builds on previous efforts of the major representatives of UB faculty, both the Senate and the Buffalo Center chapter of the faculty /staff union, the UUP. (Note that the UB AAUP is a separate faculty advocacy organization, affiliated with the national AAUP, not to be confused with the UUP union, although these entities have worked together from time to time). As posted below, a Faculty Senate resolution seeking that the UB administration provide faculty access to UBF budget information passed by that body in 2014 after discussion in two Senate meetings. In addition, the local UUP chapter (Buffalo Center) passed a similar resolution in 2014. A report on this union resolution from the UB Spectrum is available here and excerpted below: http://www.ubspectrum.com/article/2014/04/ubs-union-approves-resolution-to-make-ub-foundation-more-transparent
The Buffalo Center Chapter of the United University Professions (UUP), UB’s union representing academic and professional employees, came to a resolution last Friday requesting the UB Foundation (UBF) be more transparent in and accountable for its financial decisions.
“UBF is a non-profit, private organization that handles the millions of dollars in donations UB receives annually. …
The resolution states: “Accountability and transparency in decisions regarding spending for public purposes by public officials is vital to maintaining public trust and excellence in public institutions such as the University at Buffalo. Be it resolved that the Buffalo Center Chapter of the UUP requests that University at Buffalo demonstrate its leadership in public accountability and transparency by making available records of budgets, revenue, spending, and related policies involving UB Foundation funds as if those records were subject to the proposed FOIL legislation.”
Our UB AAUP chapter’s current work in support of UBF transparency builds on the 2014 Faculty Senate Resolution requesting transparency in UBF revenue and spending. Excerpts from the UB Reporter are below. In his official response to that Resolution, (available at this link Tripathi-Response) , President Tripathi declined on the ground that he lacks authority over disclosure of UBF records. President Tripathi is a member of the Board of Trustees of UBF, and according to several UBF public statements and web site postings, the UBF delegates much of its decision making about spending to President Tripathi.
See: UB Reporter Campus News, Faculty Senate asks that UBF ‘open its books’,By SUE WUETCHER and CHARLOTTE HSU, Published June 19, 2014:
The Faculty Senate voted at its meeting Tuesday to ask the university administration to make the UB Foundation’s budget public.
The 38-17 vote in favor of the resolution asking that the UBF “open its books” — the senate achieved a quorum for the first time in recent memory — was on the second reading of the resolution. It now goes to President Satish K. Tripathi, who will review it and make a final decision on whether the resolution becomes university policy. . . .
In response to the resolution, UB issued a statement saying that the university “values transparency and understands the importance of being transparent and forthright in its endeavors and communications“This is an important and useful discussion for the university community to be having,” the statement read. “The university will review and consider the Faculty Senate resolution after it has been formally presented to the president.
The Faculty Senate resolution, drafted by Kenneth Dauber, professor of English, stated that the Faculty Senate is responsible for providing oversight of UB’s budget and recommending funding priorities — a task, he said, that may be difficult when the senate does not have complete information about how money is being used on behalf of the university. The resolution asks that the budget of UBF and its associated foundations be made available “as if it were subject to FOIL.”
Letter to the editor in the Buffalo News, March 14, 2016, page A9 “UB Foundation needs to be more transparent: http://www.buffalonews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/letter-ub-foundation-needs-to-be-more-transparent-20160314
UB Foundation needs to be more transparent
As a colleague in the Buffalo legal community and a fellow alumnus of the UB Law School, I feel compelled to respond to Francis Letro’s Another Voice appearing in The News on March 8 concerning the University at Buffalo Foundation (UBF) and its rejection of recent calls for transparency.
The UB American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter’s recent “White Paper” calling on the UBF to open its books to public disclosure and accountability did not, as Letro inaccurately stated, “malign” anyone. It simply sought public disclosure of information that should long ago have been made public. The recent decision by the New York State Committee on Open Government, the existing legal requirements in more than a half dozen states that regulate foundations affiliated with public universities and the strong and laudatory recent News editorial calling for greater transparency all support the position advanced by the UB AAUP chapter.
What is so subversive about seeking public transparency for an entity that conducts its business in the name of a public university and solicits donations from the public on behalf of that university? As the White Paper asks: What is there to hide? Letro’s column says, in effect, “Just trust us.” But beyond his profession of good faith, he provides no evidence that UBF is acting in the best interests of the university and the community or that its governance is democratic and open.
I am proud of the fact that the law school is part of the State University of New York, a public institution. As such, I believe its administration should be kept out of private and essentially unaccountable hands.
John Ned Lipsitz, Esq.
Secrecy surrounding the UB Foundation is a jarring note for a public institution
The University at Buffalo Foundation occupies a peculiar place in Western New York’s public life. It is a private entity, but one whose purpose is to support one of the most important public institutions in the region. As such, it has a common-sense duty to operate transparently and efficiently. The university’s standing depends on it, yet the foundation isn’t doing the former, which makes it difficult to determine whether it is doing the latter.
The issue arises in light of an analysis of the foundation’s spending conducted by a UB faculty organization. What it found was disconcerting – not illegal, not unethical, but also not in keeping with the policies of an organization seeking to maximize its influence. All of Western New York has an interest in the foundation doing just that.