A place that once offered a prime example of good town-gown relations has suffered yet another blow with a conflict over the role the SUNY New Paltz president is playing as a board member of Central Hudson Gas & Electric.
Donald Christian was appointed to the board in the spring, about the time that another controversy was growing, this one over a request for large tax breaks from a company that wants to build housing for students, faculty and staff.
Now, just in time for students to return and start paying attention, the president of the college teachers union has said that both the lack of information about the president’s board appointment and some of the explanations that have been offered add up to what appears to be “a serious conflict of interest.”
It starts with money. Board members are paid, but Central Hudson as a private company does not have to disclose the amount. You would think that Christian would be comfortable with revealing the size of the paycheck, especially since he said he intended to establish a scholarship endowment with the money. Instead, he referred questions to the company, which refused to answer. That might work well for private corporations, but not for public institutions dedicated to the free and open exchange of ideas.
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