The budget submitted by Dr. Astrab keeps tuition flat for next year, and is, we realize, a difficult budget to vote against. However, we believe that this budget is driven by a vision for Nassau Community College more concerned with the political expediency of short-sighted financial priorities than with what it means to be a nationally-recognized Community College.
Consider the flat tuition. While students and their parents will, reasonably, celebrate it, it is not part of a rational tuition policy that takes the college’s financial needs and changing costs into account in a predictable way, especially in the absence of the state and county paying their fair share. Equally troubling is the decision to use $1.5 million from the fund balance to pay for operating expenses, something that you all know is not sound fiscal management. We find this particularly disturbing by this since we put on the table more than a year ago a package of savings totaling at least $4 million, which the administration rejected. The budget may look good on paper, but it sets Nassau Community College up for failure.
Much of the savings comes from the anticipated retirement of 20 full-time faculty members, an action that will reduce the full time faculty by 15% by spring 2013. President Astrab presents this reduction as a cost-saving measure, but this savings jeopardizes the reputation of our college as one of the finest two-year colleges in the nation (because of its dedicated full-time faculty, its low faculty to student ratio and correspondingly small class size) and its commitment to providing students the highest quality support services outside the classroom.
By continuing to deplete the numbers of full-time faculty, this administration has put this reputation in jeopardy and compromised the quality of education students come to Nassau to receive. Increasingly students are having difficulty registering for courses when they need them; when students do register for classes, they are less likely to have an instructor who holds office hours, which adjunct faculty are not paid to hold, and so they are less likely to get the kind of personalized attention Nassau is known for.
Read between the lines of the budget and you will find a vision that treats students in the same way he is treating full-time faculty, as mere numbers on a balance sheet. That is not the vision on which NCC’s reputation has been built. If you care about that reputation, independently of how you vote today, we invite you to work with us to ensure that it remains intact.
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Nassau Community College and
Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers (NCCFT)