City College of New York President Lisa S. Coico has resigned from her position on Oct. 7, after she was accused of misappropriating over $150,000 in college funds. The money went toward her personal expenses, including fruit baskets, furniture and rugs.
Coico was the first CUNY alumna to become president of a college in the CUNY system.
This latest infraction caps off a divisive tenure for Coico at CCNY, filled with disagreements with staff and a dwindling budget. Dropped classes have become a common occurrence at CCNY, along with infrastructural issues such as water leaks and startling budget cuts, which dragged down student morale.
In 2015, Coico was criticized for slashing the CCNY budget by $14.6 million, 7 percent more than the amount CUNY mandated all colleges to cut. Senior staff members at the college sent a letter to CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken during this period to urge him to investigate the “generous bonuses” and “high-starting salaries” given to certain unnamed employees, creating further suspicion.
It is not a good idea for high-level institutional leaders at CUNY to get tangled in a web of corruption allegations. It is disgraceful and it undercuts the entire idea of CUNY as a public university. With the constant threat of tuition hikes, underpaid professors and the subpar conditions of many facilities at CUNY, hardworking students are done a disservice when their allocated funds are ripped away from them and put toward an administrator’s seasonal fruit taste.
The fact that the accused administrator is a product of CUNY only furthers the embarrassment and places a responsibility on current students to take a moment to assess their college’s financial structure and struggles. It also instills a slight sense of embarrassment in attending CUNY since its alumni behave in this regard.
It is not only up to the students, but to the entire CUNY community, to watch CUNY’s funds and make sure they are flowing into the proper channels. With pressure mounting to slash costs and raise tuition across CUNY, there is no room left for missing dollars or inexplicable purchases. For many students, every cent could mean the difference between a degree and leaving college empty-handed.
CUNY as a whole should be committed to fostering higher retention and graduation rates. CUNY should strive to focus on giving students and professors all they truly need in order to have an environment conducive to learning. This can only come with diligence and vigilance. Together, the community of CUNY can stop corruption wherever it may be.