NJ State university spends $219,000 on custom conference table from CHINA – but college president calls critics ‘small-minded’

NJ State university spends $219,000 on custom conference table from CHINA – but college president calls critics ‘small-minded’

A taxpayer-funded university in New Jersey has spent $219,000 on a custom conference table that was built in China. Now, state lawmakers are calling for a criminal investigation of Kean University and the no-bid contract that allowed administrators to pay so much for a table. This ‘amazing table’ could cost upwards of $270,000…and the college president is incredulously defending this exorbitant spending:

Custom table

The president of Kean, which charges more than $44,000 for a four-year degree, has incredibly hit back at critics.’It is small-minded to focus on the university buying a $200,000 table,’ Dawood Farahi told the Bergen County Record. Why not? Why not?’

Farahi earns nearly $300,00 a year as the head of Kean and took home a $200,000 bonus last year.The university has already spent $219,000 and has earmarked up to $51,000 more by the time of the 22-foot circular table is finished. The Record points out that $270,000 – the amount budgeted for the table – could buy a small house in working-class Union township, where Kean is located.

‘Whether or not this is legal, it’s certainly not ethical and it’s a waste of taxpayer money,’ New Jersey State Assemblyman Joe Cryan said in a statement.

‘The time to reform higher education in New Jersey is long past. 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.’

Cryan called on the state attorney general to review the waivers that Kean used to buy the table without putting out a bid. Kean told The Record that the table falls under the professional creative services category that doesn’t require bids.
The 22-foot circular table seats 23 people and is made of oak with cherry veneer. It features data ports, gooseneck microphones, an illuminated world map and a motorized, two-tiered glass turntable. There also is a power manager unit with an 8-channel power output independent socket to reduce and restrain surge impact, and a separate equipment cabinet to house the electronic equipment.

Farahi said the table would have cost $500,000 if made in the United States.

The university has just opened a satellite campus in China and was hoping to foster a better relationship by ordering the custom table, administrators say. There are 880 Chinese students at Kean’s campus in Wenzhou, which is being financed by the Chinese government. Farahi said it will operate an exchange program allowing New Jersey students to travel to China at little cost. Should taxpayer monies be used to fund this purchase? Should lawmakers be seeking criminal action on this no-bid purchase?


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