Dr. Astrab, the former President of Nassau Community College, attempted to impose upon us a business model that was the antithesis of everything the NCCFT membership symbolized. He put together an Administration to craft new interpretations of our CBA, to create a shadow governance structure, to eliminate the Chair of the Academic Senate from the Board of the Foundation and to generate a budget that eliminated approximately 60 temporary F/T lines. The NCCFT brought the College to the Public Employees Relation Board (PERB) and won the case whereby temporary lines entering their fifth consecutive semester are converted to probationary status. We continued discussions with the Administration and were able to reduce the number of lost temporary lines by half. The Academic Chairs and Academic Senate Executive Committee held countless meetings in an attempt to educate Dr. Astrab on the value of collaboration. The ASEC even had to impose their long dormant policies for over-riding ill-conceived vetoes of Senate resolutions. These and other issues finally culminated in the Chairs Vote of No Confidence, the Senate Vote of No Confidence and the NCCFT membership Vote of No Confidence in Dr. Astrab. The membership attended BOT meetings and brought countless examples of Dr. Astrab’s policies that would cause chaos and disaster, not only on the letter, but in spirit and intent. Our commitment to our CBA, in no small part, resulted in the BOT accepting Dr. Astrab’s resignation.
Our CBA is unique in the SUNY system insofar as it represents mature, thoughtful complexity and comprehensive inclusions. One critical inclusion is Section 20, which describes the responsibilities and powers of the Academic Senate. When Dr. Astrab resigned, the NCCFT remained cautiously optimistic of a return to collaboration. Almost immediately, it became clear no such return was happening. Like a deer, the antlers were removed, only to grow back. Dr. Astrab’s entire administrative team was still in place. His vision of administrative authority, a disdain for the CBA and a disdain for collaboration, especially within the shared governance structure which has been held as a model for higher education across the nation, is still evident today.
We witness this disdain in the Administration’s attempts at interfering with the responsibilities of the Promotion and Tenure committee, violations and grievances of the CBA, violations of the AAO procedures, refusal to allow the Chair of the Academic Senate a seat on the Foundation, draconian applications of the computer-use policy and Area Deans (permanent, acting and interim) working at odds with the areas they are expected to advocate for. The latest, most disturbing practice is the administration’s creation of a “consensus statement” and a “college statement”. Obviously, the honeymoon with a very affable Dr. Dolan has come to an end. Not only did he veto the Academic Senate resolution of the DevEd Committee resolution, he generated a new paradigm. In his veto explanation letter to the Senate, he refers to the Senate and Administration as though these are separate entities. Now, when the Administration does not agree with the faculty and students on the Senate, they will issue their own resolution to the BOT for approval and implementation. This “college statement” was executed contrary to the established by-laws of the Academic Senate. In addition, the tone of his letter projects more interest in asserting administrative authority than the merits of the administration’s “college statement”.
The NCCFT Executive Committee (including our NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist), the Chairs and the ASEC have been meeting on a regular basis to address these issues. We will continue to discuss these issues with NYSUT Legal, NYSUT HQ and with the other NYSUT Community College locals. We have a new NCCFT PAC Chair, Prof. Christine Tuaillon and she is establishing a relationship with our local and state elected leaders in order to bring our message to them.
Finally, we have received 105 retirement letters in total from August 31 and December 31, 2015. The Administration asserts that the December retirees have the ability to change their mind although the CBA wording states “irrevocable”. As a result, the Administration gave the Chairs a list of criteria to follow to rationalize any FT replacements. The Administration will not decide on FT replacements until January 4, 2016. They cite financial uncertainty for this position in case a portion of these announced retirees change their mind and stay. The College indicated the cost of the retirements will be about $13,000,000. This is based on ZERO replacements. They assert they will need to bond $7,500,000 and pay this back with interest over two years. The loan and the remaining deficit will have to come from the Operating Budget of the College. The Administration claims this is a crisis because they thought they had ten years to pay off the bond, not two years as demanded by NIFA. However, if 105 faculty remained and never retired, the college averages our salary/benefits at $130,000 each per year.
So: 105 x $130,000 = $13,650,000
Therefore, if no one retired it will still cost the college the same amount of money. How did they plan to pay these faculty members if they did not retire? Would there still be a crisis or is this fabricated in an effort to “right-size” the campus?
We must galvanize ourselves to support the FT Faculty, who are the heart and soul of the College. The NCCFT Executive Committee is calling upon you to communicate your concerns and ideas to your NCCFT, Senate, and any other relevant committee department representatives. We need you to attend the BOT meetings and speak-up or just demonstrate support for your colleagues who are speaking to the BOT where the discussions can become contentious.
The NCCFT Executive Committee