$219,000 conference table draws fire

Kean University President Dawood Farahi is again at the center of criticism for a decision to spend $219,000 on a custom-built, multimedia conference table that was purchased from a company in China without competitive bidding.

Farahi and a Chinese Communist Party officials agreed to the construction of Kean University campus in Wenzhou, China several years ago.

The 22-foot circular table seats 23 people and is made of oak with cherry veneer. Farahi defended the price tag because the table includes lighting, data ports, microphones, an illuminated world map and a motorized, two-tiered glass turntable. There also is a 8-channel power manager unit with a surge protector, and a separate equipment cabinet to house the electronic equipment.

“Whether or not this is legal, it’s certainly not ethical and it’s a waste of taxpayer money,” said Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, who called on the state attorney general to review the waivers that Kean used to buy the table.

“The time to reform higher education in New Jersey is long past,” said Cryan. “I don’t need a study to know a university shouldn’t be spending up to $219,000 for a conference table. I already know it’s wrong. So do the students and families struggling to afford a higher education.”

Kean University serves students in the liberal arts, the sciences, and the professions and is best known for its programs in the humanities and social sciences and in education, graduating the most teachers in the state of New Jersey annually.

It costs more than $44,000 in tuition to attend Kean University for four years.

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