The Board of Trustees meeting that took place on Wednesday, October 10th was an important one for several reasons, which made it especially gratifying to see so many of you there. We cannot repeat enough how important your presence is both in terms of bearing witness to what transpires and, more importantly, in communicating to the Trustees just how deeply committed we are as a faculty to the quality and integrity of this institution and the education students come here to claim. So thanks to those of you who were able to make it last night, and we look forward to seeing more of you at future meetings.
The public session of October 10th’s meeting began with Professor Faren Siminoff’s statement about about irregularities and inconsistencies we discovered in the Nassau Foundation’s tax filings for fiscal year 2009-2010. We emailed a copy of her statement to the full time faculty on Thursday, but in case you didn’t see it, you can read a copy of the statement here. Also on October 11th, Geoffrey Prime, Chair of the Board of Trustees responded by sharing with us a letter from the Foundation’s accountants Connor & D’Aconti, acknowledging that the filing irregularities were due to an error on their part. Mr. Prime also assured us that he has asked the Foundation “to provide a full report…as quickly as possible” so that the Board can decide “what further action is appropriate and necessary to safeguard the integrity of the College and the NCC Foundation.” While we recognize Mr. Prime’s desire first to hear directly from the Foundation regarding these matters, and while we share his desire for a “collegial [and] productive [process] that allows for the orderly gathering of facts and the avoidance of any potential for the besmirching of individuals’ names and reputations,” we nonetheless want to repeat the call Professor Siminoff made in her statement for an independent investigation and audit, since we believe that is the best way to achieve this goal.
Significant as Professor Siminoff’s statement was, however, it was not the only matter of importance we brought before the Board. Professor Michael Steuer spoke about the fact that there is no cabinet level administrator who can speak directly for Academic Affairs and the problems arising from that situation. When members of the BOT asked for specific examples of such problems, Professor Phil Nicholson, in his statement towards the end of the meeting, talked about some of the difficulties that department chairs have been facing. Surely, however, other kinds of problems exist. We want, therefore, to second the call Professor Steuer made in his email to us for anyone who can give other examples to contact the Board of Trustees directly at BoardOfTrustees@ncc.edu. Professor Steuer also spoke with the Board about the upcoming presidential search and we were pleased to hear the Board’s assurance that the search would involve the checking of references for final candidates. We join Professor Steuer in urging the Board to make sure this is done not just by themselves, but by the search committee as a whole.
Finally, we were gratified to hear members of the Academic Senate Executive Committee speak about the change for the better in tone, style, and substance that has taken place in their relationship with Office-in-Charge Dr. Ken Saunders and the rest of the administration. Professors Ed Boyden and Esther Bogin talked specifically about feeling heard, respected and valued in a way that was not true when Donald Astrab was college president. We cannot stress the importance of this change enough. We, the full-time faculty, are the “front line” of NCC’s educational mission; the expertise we bring to questions of academic policy, therefore, is crucial to the institution’s success. As your union’s executive committee, therefore, we remain deeply concerned that we still have not been able to finalize the contract extension we began negotiating with the college more than eighteen months ago. As Vice President Frank Frisenda pointed out in his statement, not only is the stability the extension would bring important to us internally; it is also important in terms of attracting the kinds of candidates for college president that we want and that our students and the taxpayers of Nassau County deserve. An administration that truly valued the central role full-time faculty play in this institution’s success, it seems to us, ought to be making that kind of stability its highest priority.
Please keep your eyes open for announcements concerning the next Board of Trustees meeting, which Mr. Prime announced for November 20th. The general union meeting is on October 18th at 11:30 in Q-105. We will have more to say to you then. We look forward to seeing you there.