Kean U. defends purchase of $ 219,000 boardroom table


Kean University was put on the defensive last week by news that the university spent $ 219,000 on a conference table (no auction). Critics were frustrated not only by the spending, but also by the reaction of President Dawood Farahi, who told he was “small-minded” to question the spending and said: ” Why not ? Three times when asked about the purchase.

With lawmakers and some students demanding answers, the university provides details.

Philip Connelly, executive vice president of operations at Kean, a public university, sent a letter to students and faculty on Monday evening defending the purchase.

He pointed out that the table has high-tech qualities and criticized the media coverage.

“Recently, the media reported on Kean University’s new conference center, with particular emphasis on the center table without emphasizing the high-tech electronics included in the purchase price. as an important member of the Kean community, we want to provide you with specific examples of how this new center with its table full of equipment will be an asset for our institution and will ultimately benefit our students, ”he said. writes, “Functioning as a piece of high-tech equipment rather than a static cabinet, the 22-foot circular and mixed conference center features an intelligent conference system with the ability to connect people from up to 25 locations in the world for conference calls and recording meetings.The center table reflects the art and history of the region where our Chinese campus, Wenzhou-Kean University is located.

Other reasons he cited:

  • “President Farahi’s Vision 2020 outlines our strategic plan to provide a global experience for our students, and the conference center supports some of the goals of the plan. For example, through the new conference center, our Union student leaders [New Jersey] may have regular meetings with student leaders from Kean Ocean and Wenzhou Kean University in China. “
  • “Faculty can lead students in special classroom discussions in the adjoining adjoining room while listening and watching the public debates with policy experts standing in the conference center. “
  • “Exposing students to world-class meeting spaces that include cutting-edge technology positions them better to succeed in today’s business market. “

Also this week, the head of the Kean student government issued a letter supporting the purchase. “We also talked a lot about ‘why not? From President Farahi. comment, ”wrote Gerard E. Smithwrick, president of the Kean University student organization. “All of us who know and work with President Farahi are sure there was more to the sentence he proposed. In fact, his reaction is consistent with many discussions he has had over the years. years with students. Why not provide Kean students with the best spaces, places and amenities needed to learn and succeed in today’s economy? Do Kean students deserve it less than Kean students? other colleges? The answer is simple: we don’t deserve it. “

It is not known if these defenses will work. Farahi was strongly supported by his board of directors, but also faced a lot of controversy. For years, faculty members have accused him of focusing more on campus appearance than learning (accusations which he dismisses as unfair, although he admitted to being concerned about the appearance of the campus. Kean). In 2012, his board of directors backed him up after finding that several of his resumes contained inaccuracies.

While the official student leadership backs Farahi, other students are petitioning for him to be fired – and they cite the chart as an illustration of the problem, but not the root if.

“[W]As a student, we must be prepared to demonstrate that we will no longer tolerate the FAILURE of President Dahwood Farahi to work for better education and the obsession with costly vanity projects that benefit no one but himself, “the petition says.” This is NOT about a painting. The story of the table is the story of another major case of theft of Kean students by the rich and super-rich who control our school, namely by officers and board members. Let’s make Kean University a school we can be proud of! “

Additionally, new details continue to leak onto the table, which has not gone through a competitive bidding process. In the form that the university filed to avoid a competitive bidding process, the style was cited, not the technology. This is an explanation of this form: “In keeping with the university’s mission to provide world-class education and strengthen ties with its Wenzhou-Kean campus, this special conference table will be built for the executive event space. from the sixth floor in the new Green Lane Academic Building and will present and enhance the Wenzhou-Kean experience. The conference table matches the characteristic style used in China with a rotating element that allows for a buffet style presentation in the family ”typical Chinese, while allowing to work on a second level of the table. Its unique craftsmanship demonstrates an appreciation and deference to the design aesthetics of our Chinese partners.

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