Mary Driscoll, who is running the college by default, addresses students By Ashley Kalstek
It doesn’t seem like CCNY will be replacing President Lisa Coico any time soon. In presenting his university report to the board, Chancellor James Milliken said that an interim president will not be announced on October 26th as planned, but “in the near future.”
In the meantime, following the resignation of President Coico, Dr. Mary Driscoll, interim provost, held a roundtable discussion last week. She offered students a chance to ask questions and voice concerns about the future of City College’s administration. The roundtable was Driscoll’s first public appearance since President Lisa’s flame out.
The roundtable took place at the Aronow Theater in the NAC building last week. Safat Chowdhury, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, and Matthew Sapienza, CFO of CUNY, joined her. Both Chowdhury and Dr. Driscoll emphasized that this meeting was “for the students.”
When she took the stage, Dr. Mary Driscoll introduced herself and offered background about herself, focusing on her experience as undergraduate dean of education at City College. Chancellor Milliken appointed her “administrator in charge” earlier this month “pending the appointment of an Interim President at the October 26th meeting of the City University of New York Board of Trustees” — which, as is now clear, won’t be happening.
Along with the President Lisa drama, students asked about the anticipated and long-awaited child care center, the Sosnoff funds, attacks on the school, possible indictment of administrators, and building maintenance. Dr. Driscoll addressed a small audience, including a small number of students speaking out and taking advantage of the opportunity to speak with her regarding recent events.
Christian, a graduate student of education asked: “Are there any concerns of other officials being indicted,” referring to rumors spreading around the college that more City College administrators will be investigated. Driscoll responded that the “transactions took place 5 or 6 years ago” and that she was not aware of other indictments and doubted there would be any more.
Jason, a music and Jewish Studies student, wondered whether it was appropriate to use donated funds for professor salaries, referring to the fact that, under the radar, Sosnoff Funds may have improperly paid for adjuncts. (Before she left, President Lisa denied that the funds had been misused.) Driscoll passionately insisted that “there was a choice that had to be made, and the president made it, and that for students to continue getting their classes that year, the gift would be used for professor salaries.” She added that the budget cuts last year guided administrators on how and where to spend the money. “Mr. Sosnoff is very interested in making sure the impact of his donations are felt by students,” Driscoll said.
While most students accepted her answers, one student did not. The young lady thought Driscoll gave short shrift to her complaint of getting bit by bed bugs on campus the previous month, along with the poor business practices she experienced “Apologies are not enough,” said Stephanie, a psychology major.
Matthew Sapienza worked to calm the audience. “I want to assure this group that business processes are of full integrity,” he said, next blaming the state which provides the money to keep CUNY colleges up and running. “This governor and legislators have not been funding CUNY like the previous governor and legislators,” said Sapienza to the crowd.
In the end, Dr. Driscoll promised to do her best. “I cannot promise that we will be able to fix everything,” she said. “But I promise I will try.”