NCCFT Executive Committee Statement to the Board of Trustees
read by NCCFT President M. Debra DeSanto—June 8, 2011
The Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers represents over 700 Classroom and non-classroom faculty. The non-classroom faculty includes Librarians, Counselors, Professionals, Technologists, and Technical Assistants. This diversity of the union membership, all of whom are hired through national affirmative action searches, is critical to the professional and cultural diversity of the campus. Our contract has been crafted over many years to enable the membership to use their talents and expertise in order to fulfill their responsibilities. This contract demonstrates our commitment to excellence and is exemplified through our shared governance system. NCC has repeatedly been referred to as “the gem of Nassau County.”
The fiscal and political crisis that is upon us, coupled with an administration that is at times unwilling or unable to communicate in an open and honest discussion within the framework of our culture has resulted in a campus beleaguered by fear, hostility and uncertainty. In our experience as leaders of the NCCFT, we have never seen as many last minute actions taken without consideration of the contract, resulting in potential grievances, and taking up time and resources that would be better spent collaborating. This is no way to run a college.
We believe that the Board of Trustees, having the fiduciary responsibilities to operate the campus, by extension, has the responsibility to obtain the proper funding so that the campus can succeed in its mission and flourish. The NCCFT has a long history of working in concert with the administration and the Board to gain State and County funding along with appropriate tuition adjustments to be able to support a fair budget. Unfortunately, after intense lobbying from the NCCFT and NYSUT, the State only refunded about 40% of the Governors intended cuts to the Community Colleges and the County yet again offered no increase. We wonder: What are you, the members of the Board, appointed by State and County policy makers, doing to persuade these bodies to live up to their obligations to the college? In addition, without an appropriate tuition increase, this administration and board make it appear as if that funding is unnecessary and that the mass firing of faculty is acceptable. If that is the case, we are working at cross-purposes.
If NCC is to maintain its reputation as the “gem of Nassau County” you must recognize the commitment, expertise and willingness of the faculty to participate, through our governance system, in the effort to maintain the quality of education that has come to define Nassau Community College. The maintenance of full-time faculty positions is critical to this effort. Their removal from the campus, coldly referred to as “instructional efficiencies” will result in an incalculable loss to our students who will be paying more for less and needing longer and longer to complete programs because of reduced course availability.
The crisis we are facing requires uncomfortable conversations and difficult choices both on and off campus. This will of course result in disagreements. However, disagreements should not be defined as hostility. Unfortunately hostility does exist at NCC, but as with the fiscal and political crisis, it does not originate with us. Nassau Community College is the primary commitment of the full-time faculty, and we offer our willingness to participate in meaningful discussions with the Board and Administration. In closing we ask: How does the BOT and the Administration plan to keep NCC the gem of Nassau County?