For this Shirley moment – number 12 on our list – we’re reaching back to the late 1990’s. In 1997, Shirley was holding four part time jobs. On top of earning $170,000 per year for her services here at Stony Brook, Kenny was a member on the Board of Directors of Toys ‘R’ Us, on the Advisory Board of Chase Manhattan and the Scholarship Committee of Seagrams. However, perhaps her most noteworthy part-time job then was as a member of the Board of Directors of Computer Associates.
Computer Associates (CA), which is based here on Long Island, has made numerous donations to Stony Brook over the years. In March of 1996 they donated a sizeable sum of money to expand the Computer Sciences department. That’s not to mention Charles Wang’s (who was CEO of Computer Associates at the time) donation to build the structure which bears his name here on campus. However, this raised many alarms at the time since it seemed CA was simply pumping money into our university to groom the next generation of office drones to work for them. Years later, in 2006 and 2007, Charles Wang would wind up in hot water for other shady dealings here on the Island.
However, where does our President fit into all of this? Well, as a member of the Board of Directors, she earned around $30,000 per year, and was offered 2,000 stock options. Due to an NY State Ethics Commission rule, she was not allowed to accept the stock options. The reason for this was to discourage any sorts of improprieties or conflicts of interest in running Stony Brook, which is a state agency. If Kenny were heavily invested in CA, she would obviously be more inclined to assist the software company in its quest to increase its influence here on campus through the above-mentioned donations. Well, it’s a good thing the state put a stop to it. But wait! Kenny actually went around the Ethics rule and wound up with over 6000 stock shares not long after earning her spot on the Board. At the time, she had roughly $430,000 invested in the company!
Well, fortunately for the students in the Computer Science department, CA fell on some hard times along with their CEO and their influence isn’t nearly as pervasive here at SBU as it was in the late 1990’s. While she didn’t step over the line of blatant conflicts of interest with her involvement in CA, the evasion of the Ethics rules remains a sorry stain on President Kenny’s time here.