Bureaucrats at Kean University, a taxpayer-funded school in the endless sprawl of New Jersey, are defending their baffling decision to purchase a $219,000 table made in China.
In the face of considerable criticism, school officials have hailed the table, calling it no ordinary table but a sort of bionic, multimedia conference table, NJ.com reports.
The circular piece of furniture costing over four times the median American household income is part of bold strategic plan intended to transform the little-known college that U.S. News ranks so low it doesn’t bother printing the ranking.
“Our world-class meeting spaces let more corporate and community leaders experience the new Kean,” wrote Philip Connelly, executive vice president of operations, this week in a campus-wide email obtained by NJ.com. “More awareness and our enhanced image means added market value to your Kean degree.”
Connelly boasted that the 22-foot, custom-built, Chinese table is no “static furniture item.” No, no. Instead, it’s “a piece of high-tech equipment” that features an “intelligent conferencing system.”
Students in New Jersey “can have regularly scheduled meetings with student leaders at Kean Ocean and Wenzhou Kean University in China,” Connelly added.
Also, Kean, a regional school in New Jersey, has a campus in China for some reason.
Last month, Joey Cryan, a New Jersey state representative, lambasted Kean’s acquisition of the table as a colossal waste of money.
“Frankly, this is just a slap in the face to every taxpayer in this state,” the Democrat told CBS New York.
Cryan observed that the school managed to raise tuition rates more steeply than all other public universities in New Jersey last year. He also noted that there was no bidding process for the table purchase.
“Kean University has a history of abuse of the process of bidding and purchasing,” the lawmaker charged.
“It’s a slap in the face to every family in New Jersey that’s struggling to get their kids through college,” Cryan told CBS New York.
Kean University president Dawood Farahi expressed disdain for critic of his school’s profligate spending on furniture.
Farahi called detractors “small minded.” He also rationalized the purchase by thrice proclaiming “Why not?” according to Inside Higher Ed.
In 2012, Kean’s board of trustees discovered that certain aspects of Farahi’s resume were inaccurate, but continued to support him, Inside Higher Ed notes.