UB Council Ignores Education Law
by Buck Quigley - posted 6:37 pm, August 31, 2010
Less than 24 hours after SUNYAB president John Simpson announced his retirement effective January 15, 2011, questions were flying within the UB community: How is it that Jeremy Jacobs, in his capacity as UB Council Chairman, could name Scott Nostaja interim president of the university?
It’s a good question, when you consider that the Education Law of New York grants the UB Council no such power.
Yet there it was, straight from Simpson himself: “In the meantime, Chairman Jacobs has appointed Scott Nostaja, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, to serve as Interim President following my official retirement on January 15.”
Since my email box has been filling up all day with people asking me about this, I picked up the blower and made a few calls around, trying to get to the bottom of things.
I called John DellaContrada, VP for Media Relations at UB, and left a message.
Then I placed a call to the phone number I found for the UB Council on a UB Website. I dialed the number, and waited. After a few rings, a secretary picked up the horn and said, “Office of the President.”
I explained that I was trying to reach the UB Council. She paused, and said it was the same number. I said I was trying to find out how it was that the UB Council had named Scott Nostaja interim university president, when it appears that the law grants them no such power. I was put on hold. Another person came on the line and told me someone would call me back with an answer to that.
In the meantime, I placed a call to the SUNY Office of Public Relations in Albany, and left my question with them.
Then, I received an email from DellaContrada that read:
I got your phone message…you’re right the SUNY Trustees have the ultimate authority to appoint interim presidents and other SUNY leaders. Scott Nostaja’s appointment will become official after it goes before the trustees. I don’t yet have a date when this will go before the SUNY trustees, but we anticipate it will occur sometime soon.
Next I got a call back from David K. Belsky, Special Assistant for Strategic Communications for SUNY, who sent me this response:
With the departure of a campus president, the SUNY Board of Trustees, acting on a nomination from the Chancellor upon advice and consultation of the campus council, appoints the interim president. The campus council is then charged by the Chancellor with undertaking a search for a new president following SUNY Presidential Search Guidelines. This process was most recently completed with interim appointments at Binghamton and New Paltz and in Western New York at Buffalo State before the permanent appointment of their new president.
“Ok, but that’s not the process that played out at UB yesterday, correct?” I replied.
“Correct.” Belsky replied.
So, at the moment of Simpson’s announcement, the process of finding his replacement had already been botched.
Click here to read the “SUNY Guidelines for Conducting a Presidential Search.” They’ve been in place since September, 1997, because “The Board of Trustees considers the selection of campus presidents to be one of the most important of its duties.”