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UB Pays $48K in Dues to Buffalo Niagara Partnership with State Money

The State University of New York at Buffalo paid $47,994 in membership dues to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership (BNP) in 2011. The university pays the funds from a state account. In addition, SUNY at Buffalo paid $5,000 in dues this year to the Business Council of New York State (BCNYS) from what’s termed a “State Institutional Membership” account.

Both groups have lobbied Albany officials on behalf of the state university. The BNP made passage of UB2020 legislation its #1 priority in this year’s State Budget/Legislative Session Action Agenda.

According to UB spokesperson John DellaContrada, the dues “do not go to the BNP’s political action committee.” He did not indicate where the money does go. The amount appears to be sufficient to make UB a “major investor” in BNP’s “president’s circle.” Click here to see.

Earlier this month, BCNYS spokesperson Rob Lillpop said his group had been “very much in support of the SUNY 2020 agenda. We lobbied for it, and we backed it, and we’re happy that it’s happening. Before that we were backing the previous versions of it. We’ve been very big on it.”

Meanwhile, United University Professions (UUP) President Phillip Smith protested SUNY’s drift away from academics toward economic development at a NYS Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing on Wednesday.

“It is becoming disturbingly evident that the University has lost sight of why it was created – to graduate productive students who can contribute to the state’s overall economy and culture. The University heralds the formation of partnerships with private sector companies.  We hear phrases such as joint ventures and economic engines.  We hear very little about a reaffirmation of the University’s original and, until lately, historical emphasis on teaching and learning,” Smith said.

In a response to the statement, SUNY spokesman Morgan Hook described Smith’s comments about a changing focus “absurd.”

Click here to read more.

Also this week, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher was named as chair-elect for Chicago-based private 501c3 “CEOs for Cities.” According to Morgan Hook, she’s been on the board of the organization since 2002.

In 2009, the president of the not-for-profit CEOs for Cities made $221,039. According to tax forms, their mission is TO CREATE AND SUSTAIN THE NEXT GENERATION OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES BY INFLUENCING URBAN LEADERS AND OTHER CHANGE AGENTS WITH RESEARCH-BASED INSIGHTS, DYNAMIC DISCUSSIONS, CROSS-SECTOR NETWORKING AND ADVOCACY.

Click here to see their 990.

According to Hook, Zimpher isn’t getting paid to serve as board chair at CEOs for Cities. But you know how it is when you’re serving as chancellor of the largest public university system in the world—what do you do with all your spare time?


  • Jonathan Wellinton-Fidrych III

    It’s about time good old UB got on board with the BNP! I see no better way to spend the student tuition increases. This will surely make UB a major research university and a trillion horsepower economic engine to drive our local economy. What a Bold New Vision! Bravo!

  • Peter A Reese

    Anyone know how much it costs to be in the President’s Outer Circle?

  • Jim Holstun

    By asking the Collins campaign to return its recent contributions, the University at Buffalo and its foundations seem to be acknowledging their impropriety and illegality. But is this massive contribution to the BNP any different? By paying BNP CEO Andy Rudnick’s $323,814 salary, it helps him do things like publicly endorse Chris Collins for Erie County Executive, on behalf of the whole BNP. Why should the taxpayers of New York be paying for Chris Collins’s campaign?