The sudden exit of City College President Lisa Coico on October 7 came on the heels of a federal probe and a New York Times investigation into her handling of the school’s funds.
The Times reported in October that since taking on the role of CCNY president in 2010, Coico had rankled some faculty members by cutting the school’s budget beyond what the CUNY administration had requested. In addition, it reported on various financial improprieties that had plagued her reputation, including using the school’s 21st Century Foundation funds for personal expenses such as housekeeping and purchasing furniture. Some faculty have remained public in their support for Coico.
The paper reported, “By August 2011, according to an email between two school officials, the college had begun to itemize more than $155,000 of her spending in three categories – ‘college,’ ‘personal’ and ‘iffy.’ Another email later discussed the need to ‘recoup the funds.’
“She was later ordered by...CUNY’s general counsel...to repay the college $51,000, or roughly one-third of the expenses in question, because she had not received prior approval for moving and other expenses. She fulfilled that obligation by January 2016.”
The investigations drew the attention of CCNY benefactor and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. In leaked emails obtained by Wikileaks, Powell questioned CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken about the articles regarding Coico, to which he responded, “Stranded at O’Hare [Airport] and trying to get home tonight. Happy to talk anytime convenient. Reluctant to say much in email. Putin might get it and release it.”