Harendra “Harold” Sirisena was director of the bursar’s office at the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn for eight years, responsible for all financial matters, including tuition collection, payroll and bank deposits.
But in 2003, without any explanation, he was suddenly replaced by a young office assistant and reduced to a menial biller.
His sole assigned task — plugging names onto form letters — takes up an average 30 days a year, he estimates, leaving him idle for 171 days, or 86 percent of his time.
“I long for the opportunity to earn my salary,” he told The Post.
For the past 13 years, Sirisena has collected his full $96,000 paycheck, more than $1 million in all.
But he has spent most of that time in isolated cubicles — listening to music, watching cricket or soccer games on his computer and doing math problems — or feeding the birds and squirrels at a nearby park.
“Sometimes I’ve fallen asleep,” he said. “It just happens.”
Over the years, Sirisena, now 72, has written many letters to City Tech officials begging to get work commensurate with his skills, education and experience — to no avail. He applied for other CUNY jobs, he said, but the drastic slashing of his duties killed his chances.
As a last resort, Sirisena sent several letters pleading his case to CUNY Chancellor James Milliken, who never replied, he said.
“What a waste. I could have done so much,” he said. “They don’t care.”
Saying he wants to expose the sham, Sirisena agreed to come forward days before the state inspector general on Tuesday issued a scathing report charging that CUNY mismanagement and lax oversight has resulted in waste, abuse and lavish spending.
Sirisena, who has a master’s degree from Columbia University, joined CUNY in 1995 after serving four years in the bursar’s office at The New School. His early years at City Tech were highly productive and successful, he said.
But in 2003, shortly after receiving tenure, Sirisena was told he was being transferred without any reason. Sirisena was given nothing to do for two years, he said. He used the free time to tutor students in the sciences and clear unpaid tuition bills.
Since 2008, his only assigned task was to send invoices to companies that sponsor students — about 190 a year. In September, even that simple task was yanked from him.
Sirisena’s lawyer, former state Attorney General Oliver Koppell, calls Sirisena’s situation “absurd.”
“It’s a betrayal of the public trust, especially in light of the constant claim by university officials that the state is inadequately funding higher education.”
Sirisena’s replacement by an unqualified, younger man “smacks of nepotism or cronyism,” he added.
After repeatedly seeking an explanation of Sirisena’s treatment — and some redress — Koppell plans to file an age- and ethnic-discrimination lawsuit against CUNY. Sirisena, a US citizen, was born in Sri Lanka.
Stephen Soiffer, special assistant to City Tech President Russell Hotzler, told The Post, “Mr. Sirisena’s issue is being explored by the university and at this point there’s nothing the college can say.”
A spokesman for Chancellor Milliken said the grievance was referred to CUNY’s human resources office.