On behalf of the NCCFT Executive Committee, I would like to welcome you all back from a hopefully restful summer. As you open your mailboxes, attend department meetings and read your email, you might notice that it has not been restful at Nassau Community College. In the 27 years that I have been at Nassau Community College, there has never been such a sad, angry beginning to a new academic year. Involuntarily, thirty-nine of our colleagues are no longer employed at the college. Someone once told me, “You don’t know what you don’t know”. The students, faculty, administration and community will never know the implications of our loss. Of course, being the dedicated professionals we are, I am confident we will continue to provide our students as best we can given the increasingly limited resources we have at our disposal.
Regarding the use of those limited resources, I know many of you are concerned particularly about the overcrowding of classrooms. The NCCFT requested, and the administration provided, a list of room occupancy maximums for all buildings on campus. That list is posted on the left sidebar under NCCFT Documents. Please check your rosters against this list and report any violations to the NCCFT Health and Safety Committee. Be sure to include yourself as an occupant. If possible, take pictures of situations that are not conducive to a healthy environment or education. You can email these pictures to the NCCFT.
We have activated the Nassau Community College Faculty Crisis Committee, which is chaired by Prof. Richard Newman and Mr. Garry Ouellette. The first priority of this activation is meant to organize, educate and agitate so that the faculty demonstrates their support for the Chairs, Senate and NCCFT by supporting the Vote of No Confidence taking place on September 8, 2011.
There have been so many faculty engaged in this effort over the summer and I hesitate to begin naming them for fear of accidentally forgetting someone. So, just let me say that there are those amongst to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. I have every expectation that their names will surface as we move forward. Most of the organizing efforts – the rallies, the letter writing campaign, the videos, the media relations, and the legal work were born from those members on the “Faculty Activist list” that Elizabeth Wood created and is co-managed by Richard Newman.
I know that many of you are asking, “if the Vote of No Confidence is successful, what happens on September 9, 2011?” There are many answers to this and depending on whom you ask, the answers diverge and converge. The Vote of No Confidence is meant to tell the world that the faculty have lost confidence in their President to lead the institution. While it is symbolic, it also can carry great influence. We will draw on this Vote to inform SUNY, NYSUT, the Nassau Community College Board of Trustees, the State Senate, Assembly and County Legislature, the Students and the Community of our concerns. So what does that do? It causes the powers that make decisions that affect the viability of this campus to take notice and, hopefully, bear pressure on Dr. Astrab to change his approach or resign or begin proceedings to remove him from office. As these scenarios develop, the various constituencies on and off campus will, hopefully, adapt appropriately. This is where the divergence and convergence come into play. There are just too many variables that can cause shifts great and small. While the Senate and the Chairs are creations of the NCCFT CBA, they can address these issues as independent entities.
While the previous paragraph is replete with caveats and qualifiers, the NCCFT Executive Committee must always insure that the collective good of the membership is addressed, while maintaining the individual rights of each member. The checks and balances lie within the Executive Board and the NCCFT Committees. A reality that we all must be cognizant of is that we still have a College to run. I say this with all due deference to the assorted policymakers. The overarching concern expressed by the Membership, Chairs, the Senate and the NCCFT Executive Committee is the autocratic, contradictory and dismissive style Dr. Astrab exhibits. We all understand the political and fiscal realities of the times. We can, should and shall work with the Administration to insure that Nassau Community College receives its fair share of revenues. On the other hand, we will do whatever is feasible to insure that the budget of this campus is devised in such a manner wherein the appropriate sacrifices are shared before implemented. To do this, we need you, the membership, to help. As mentioned, we are in the process of organizing the Crisis Committee and will be calling upon you to contribute your talents, expertise and energy to see us through these difficult times. This will be an evolving situation and we will have to act thoughtfully and methodically, yet quickly and be ready and flexible to change direction as circumstances dictate.
As you review the information being generated in anticipation of this Vote of No Confidence, I must ask you to keep it all in context. This vote is not being pulled out of thin air. It is in response to an accumulation of issues that leave no doubt in the minds of your leadership bodies that Dr. Astrab has no interest in maintaining the collegial culture of this institution. In addition, it has nothing to do with the politico-fiscal crisis. For instance, in June, when the Senate brought up the Chairs resolution for the Vote of No Confidence, one of the major issues was the lack of active collegial discourse on the part of Dr. Astrab and his administration. At that Senate meeting, the faculty discussed their concerns. Meanwhile, various components of the administration read statements that were written prior to those discussions at the Senate and signed by multiple parties. Therefore, their minds were made up before any discussions occurred. Moreover, made up in groupthink. Many of these administrators have been working with us for decades in one capacity or another. What happened to them? Are they listening to us? Dr. Astrab’s “allncc” emails from the summer as well as the more recent are legal justifications for his actions and an attempt to clarify unnecessary points. Now he is granting us three informational meetings this week in response to our concerns. Attend or don’t attend, it is up to you. I do not have any expectations. While he and his administration hear us, they are not listening!
Finally, let us not forget the Board of Trustees…
Frank Frisenda, Vice-President -Classroom Faculty