By Josh Tolentino
Administrators deny the “Common Sense” authors’ claim that professor and board of trustees member, Cherie Serota poses a conflict of interest.
In the second anonymous “Common Sense” pamphlet, the authors suspect that appointing Cherie Serota, board of trustees member, as the director of the fashion merchandising program, was a political move. The authors insinuate a conflict of interest, saying, “Cherie Serota’s husband Daniel Serota, is the current mayor of Brookville, in which a portion of our campus resides,” including, “the part where the supposed veterinarian school is going to be built.
Michael Soupios, tenured political science professor and president of the faculty union, confirmed that “in order to advance the construction of the vet school, there needed to be permits from the town.”
Plans for the veterinarian school, however, have been in the works for several years. Construction of the school has yet to begin, as the university is still waiting on building permits, according to Gordon Tepper, university director of public relations. Areas slated for construction have been marked, but are not set to begin until 2019.
The authors of the pamphlet claim Serota was unfairly made director of the fashion merchandising program. The Pioneer reached out to Serota for comment, but she denied the request. Instead, dean of students Michael Berthel, Gordon Tepper and university counsel Michael Best, met with The Pioneer before Thanksgiving break to take our questions. Tepper later responded to inquiries via email after the break.
“Cherie was working as an adjunct professor, and she agreed to serve on the search committee to find a director for the Fashion Merchandising program. When the search committee was unable to find the right candidate after two national searches, Dean Valli (of the College of Management) and other members of the committee concluded that Cherie was the best fit, and she had done an excellent job,” Tepper wrote in an email.
Some faculty members questioned Serota’s teaching qualifications. Serota had her own fashion line called “Belly Basics” which revolutionized the maternity market in 1994 with the introduction of the Pregnancy Survival Kit, which gained worldwide recognition and changed the way pregnant women dressed across the globe.
“Under Ms. Serota’s direction, LIU’s Fashion Merchandising program is widely respected and offers students unique opportunities to prepare for a career in the fashion industry,” Tepper said. “Ms. Serota’s knowledge and connections in the industry allow students to gain access to fashion events and businesses around the world.”
Tepper said the Board of Trustees is pleased that one of its members is teaching at LIU. “Ms. Serota brings a first-hand perspective on student experiences and issues. She is an asset to the Long Island University Board and its students.” he said. “As is standard practice in all organizations, LIU has a policy governing the disclosure of any university ties by its trustees and officers. Ms. Serota has fully complied with this policy and the board has approved her teaching assignment from inception. Ms. Serota does recuse herself when issues affecting her department come before the board in accordance with university policy.”