The Disingenuous Dr. Tripathi
by Buck Quigley - posted 5:43 pm, March 24, 2014
Back on December 3, 2013, the Faculty Senate of the State University of New York at Buffalo passed a resolution asking the UB Foundation(s) to make its records public. The Spectrum student newspaper covered it well here.
On March 5, 2014, UB President Satish Tripathi, after three months of thought, was able to condense his response down to a six-paragraph letter to Professor Ezra Zubrow, Chairman of the Faculty Senate. Click here to read it.
This bit is a real gem:
The resolution asks that “the President and administration of the University at Buffalo make available the budget of UBF and its associated foundations as if it were subject to FOIL.” As a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the University at Buffalo Foundation, Inc. is outside of my purview as University at Buffalo President. Neither I as President, nor the University at Buffalo as an institution, have the legal authority to make available any records held by the UB Foundation as a private corporation.”
What the coy Tripathi fails to mention in his letter is that he is also on the Board of Trustees of the University at Buffalo Foundation, Inc. Not only that, but he is the sole member of the Compensation Committee of the UB Foundation and its many affiliates, under the chairmanship of Francis Letro. The two of them are charged with “determining compensation for the operating staff of the Foundation and its Affiliates,” and various other salary top-offs for NYS employees and administrators scattered all over the place.
Magnanimously, Tripathi adds this:
Please note, however, that acting of its own accord, the UB Foundation, Inc. has made public much of its financial information. All audited financial statements of the University at Buffalo Foundation, Inc. are published online by that corporation and can be readily accessed on the UBF website. It is also my understanding that the UB Foundation will be making available (via the UB Foundation website) its official IRS 990 tax forms.
Gee, thanks. The audited financial statements have been available at the UBF website for years. They shed exactly zero light on the things the Faculty Senate is interested in. What’s more, the IRS 990 tax forms have already been available for free through guidestar.com for years. Guidestar obtains them from the IRS. The only way the UB Foundation could keep its 990s from becoming public would be to stop filing tax returns.
As it is, the most recent, publicly-available UB Foundation 990 only accounts for fiscal year July, 2011—June, 2012. Click here if you want a copy.
So the faculty of our public university asks the university president to share current information that he has access to as a UBF Board member, and after three months of delay, the president offers them publicly-available information from two years ago.