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The NCCFT Year in Review: 2018-2019

The NCCFT Executive Committee takes the responsibility with which you have entrusted us—to represent your interests as educational professionals—very seriously. While our primary responsibility is to negotiate and protect your rights under our contract (which, we will never tire of reminding you, is one of the strongest higher education collective bargaining agreements in the United States), fulfilling that responsibility also means making sure that our union’s presence is felt, that our union’s voice is heard, whether on campus, within NYSUT, or, at the national level, within the AFT. To put that another way, we want to make sure that no one needs to look too hard to see our “union label.”

In this respect, the 2018-2019 academic year was a busy one. We, the members of the Executive Committee, attended, spoke at and/or helped organize many events, often traveling to other parts of the New York State to do so—as did many of your fellow NCCFT members. Some of these events were NCCFT-sponsored and run, some of them were NYSUT events, while others involved the NCC Foundation and the work it does to support our campus community. In this post, we’d like to share some of the year’s highlights with you.

NCCFT Events

Autism Awareness Day

On April 2, for Autism Awareness Day, the NCCFT Executive Committee arranged to have the top floor of the Tower lit up in blue, in recognition of people living with autism.

NCCFT President Frank Frisenda addressing those assembled for the Autism Awareness Day Tower-lighting ceremony.
The 12th floor of the Tower lit up in blue to recognize Autism Awareness Day.


As you know, this was Dr. Keen’s final year as our president. As you also know, we owe him a tremendous debt of thanks. His leadership not only helped us protect our Middle States accreditation; he also helped restore civility and functional, working relationships to this campus. Without him, we would not be prepared to meet the challenges we will inevitably face when our new president. Dr. Jermaine Williams, takes office in July. For that reason, we decided to turn our annual dinner and cabaret into a farewell tribute to Dr. Keen.

The NCC Players, a troupe made up of members of all four campus unions (in other words, the usual suspects) performed sketches and sang songs that both poked fun at ourselves and reminded us of just how much we’ve been through over the past years. Perhaps the highlight of the evening, was when Dr. Keen and his body doubles—without whom, Mike Steuer reminded us, he could never have accomplished all that he did—appeared on stage together.

As usual, we would not have been able to put our show on without our writer/director/prop and stage manager/cheerleader/accompanist/chief-cook-and-bottle-washer Phyllis Kurland.

Here’s a shot of the entire cast before the on-stage flashback to 2016.

We will truly miss President Keen.

Committee Chairs Luncheon

In addition to the Sabbatical and Promotion & Tenure Committees, there are eight standing committees that help make sure the work of our union gets done. At the end of every school year, we acknowledge the contribution these members make with a luncheon. This year, we gathered at Borelli’s.

NCCFT Standing Committees

  • Fringe Benefits
  • Health & Safety
  • Negotiating
  • Political Action
  • Retirement
  • Scholarship
  • Special Events
  • Tellers

There are also members who make their contributions in other ways, such as helping us manage our technology needs, sitting on the Grievance Board, and representing us on important Academic Senate Committees. Their names, and the work they do, are listed in the caption beneath the photo below.

From left to right: Phyllis Kurland (Cabaret), Uzo Osuno (Chair of Political Action), Christine Tuaillon (Chair of Fringe Benefits), Susan Beganskas (Co-Chair of Health & Safety), Judy Sandler (Our NYSUT LRS), Caroline Falconetti (NCCFT Treasurer), Frank Frisenda (NCCFT President), Donna Hope (NCCFT Vice President), Darleen Braunshweiger (Grievance Board), Dawn Smith (NCCFT Vice President), Rose Tavitian (Chair of Special Events), Zia Durrani (who helps out in more ways than we can count), Alex Sanchioli (Co-chair of Tellers Committee), Angela Oglesby (Chair of Sabbatical Committee), Katrina Frazier (Chair of P&T). Not pictured: Gerard DeFeo (Co-chair Health & Safety), Susan Mitchell (Co-Chair Tellers Committee), Chris Roethel (Chair of Carlino Incoming Scholarship Committee), Beth Smith (Chair of Carlino Outgoing Scholarship Committee, as well as the Seligman and DeSantos Scholarship Committees), Valerie Lugakis (Chair of Retirement Committee), Jean Miller (Public Relations), Paul Pilipshen (who helps us manage our technology needs), and Darci Burdge (NCCFT representative on the Calendar Committee)

Health & Wellness Fair

The Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers (NCCFT) in a collaborative endeavor with the Nassau Community College Nursing Department conducts a College-wide Health and Wellness Fair. This year the fair took place April 11, 2019,  from 10am-1pm in the College Center Building. Students from the Nursing Department get a chance to show case the knowledge and training obtained during their educational experience at Nassau Community College.

Local community based organizations also come and provide much needed services and disseminate health-related information to the college community.

Multicultural Fair

On February 14, 2019 Nassau Community College’s annual Multicultural Fair took place on both the first and second floors of the CCB. As usual, it was a great success! On the first floor, groups from across the college community, including the NCCFT, set up booths that highlighted our campus’ cultural diversity from a variety of perspectives. Artistic and informative, the booths demonstrate our commitment to diversity as central to what strengthens us as a community. The college community owes a real debt of thanks to Professors Leslie Wong Loock and Katherine Cho, co-chairs of the Multicultural Fair Subcommittee of the Senate’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. The NCCFT also offers special thanks to Professor Jean Miller for, once again, creating an outstanding display, highlighting our union’s central role on campus.

Upstairs, under the direction of Professor Deirdre Gibson from the Culinary Arts Program of the Hospitality Business Department, a team of faculty, staff, and students decorated, arranged, and helped to serve a feast of dishes from a range of cultures, including a lovely dessert table that had everyone’s mouths watering.

NCCFT Executive Board member Jean Miller with two students at the fair.

Here’s a better view of the NCCFT display and its pro-union message.

The food was delicious:

And of course there was dessert.

Nassau Community College Breast Cancer Walk

As she has done for many years, Professor Susan Mitchell of the Physical Education Department organized this year’s Breast Cancer Walk to raise money for Mid-Nassau Lend a Helping Hand, Inc. Members from all across the NCC campus community showed up to demonstrate their support, raising more than $3600 to help fund Mid-Nassau’s free program for women with breast cancer. Here are some pictures from the day.

Some of the sponsors and participants
Susan Mitchell, with NCCFT Vice President Dawn Smith
The Nursing Club
The football team

NCCFT Scholarships

The union luncheon in the spring provides us with one of the happiest and proudest moments of the year, when we award the NCCFT Scholarships. This year was no different. Here are the winners, pictured with Professor Ernest DeFalco.

Filomena Callipari, awarded second place for the Joseph F. Carlino, Jr. Academic Excellence and Service Scholarship
Joseph Wolf won the Joseph F. Carlino, Jr. Academic Excellence and Service Scholarship
JiaYing Zhou won the M. Debra SeSanto Student Aide Scholarship

Political Action

The NCCFT Political Action Committee works hard throughout the academic year. They meet regularly with state and county officials to insure we get the support we need from them. They attend both Democratic and Republican events, because we need the support of both parties. They attend legislative breakfasts at the college and they go to Albany to help lobby legislators. Here are some the events they attended this year.

Black History Through The Ages

Uzo Osuno (PAC Chair) and Christine Tuaillon with Senator Anna M. Kaplan

Laura Curran’s State Of The County Address

Uzo Osuno (PAC Chair), Caitlin Thurber, and Doreen Davis

Legislative Breakfast

From Left to Right: President Keen, Assemblyman David G. McDonough (District 14), Uzo Osuno (PAC Chair), Assemblyman John Mikulin (District 17)
Assemblywoman Taylor Raynor with Uzo Osuno (PAC Chair)

Nassau County Republican Committee’s Theodore Roosevelt Dinner

Uzo Osuno, Lois Schmitt, and the Honorable James Kennedy
The Honorable James Picken, Lois Schmitt, and Uzo Osuno
The Honorable John Mikulin with Uzo Osuno
Uzo Osuno with Lois Schmitt

The Planetarium Spotlight Event

For this event, we invited local legislators to experience Nassau Community College’s planetarium, which is the only educational planetarium in Nassau County.

Professor Tom Bruckner demonstrating how the planetarium works
From left to right: [insert name], Assemblyman John Mikulin, Dawn Smith (NCCFT VP), Uzo Osuno (PAC Chair) Donna Hope (NCCFT VP) holding a citation presented to the NCCFT by Assemblywoman Taylor Raynor
Assemblywoman Raynor’s Citation

Professor On Wheels

Proving that you’re never too old to learn, twenty seniors from the Levittown Senior Center participated in our new Professor On Wheels program, which was organized, administered, and curated by NCCFT Vice President Donna Hope. Over the course of the 2018-2019 academic year, seven NCCFT members volunteered their time to conduct classes with seniors from the senior center. Designed to be eclectic, the program covered a diverse range of topics, including “The Key to Health Through Nutrition and Movement,” taught by Professor Jessica Marra Clingo, of the College’s Health/Physical Education/Recreation Department, “Owls of Long Island,” by Physical Sciences Professor Michael Zito; and “Exploring Religions of the World,” by Professor Emeritus Nancy Barker from the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work. These pictures are from the “graduation ceremony,” which took place on May 14, 2019.

Here’s Vice President Donna Hope’s address to the graduates:

Nassau Community College President W. Hubert Keen congratulates the graduates
The entire graduating class, with Dr. Keen, NCCFT President Frank Frisenda, VP Donna Hope, VP Dawn Smith, Professor Joan Buckley, County Executive Laura Curran, and others in the back row

Safe Zone Training

Professor Bethany Gizzi introduces the concept of Safe Zone Training

To kick off what we plan to be a union-driven, campus-wide conversation on what it means to make Nassau Community College a safe space for all of us, we invited Professor Bethany Gizzi, President of the Monroe Community College Faculty Association, to provide us with “Safe Zone Training,” focusing specifically on the needs of our LGBTQ students. The event took place on May 23, 2019 and was attended by more than thirty of our members attended. We look forward to continuing this conversation in the coming academic year.

NCCFT Vice President Donna Hope discussing Safe Zone training with Professor Joan Buckley, Chair of Nursing and Maryann Snow

NYSUT Events

Community College Conference

Pictured from left to right, starting in the rear: Zia Durrani, Uzo Osuno, Alex Sanchioli, Richard Newman, Kathleen Gallagher, Frank Frisenda, Donna Hope, Phyllis Kurland, Virginia Sanchioli, Vondora Wilson-Corzen, Christine Tuaillon, Dawn Smith

Every year, we—members of the Executive Committee, along with other union members who choose to participate—attend NYSUT’s Community College Leadership Conference. It’s a great opportunity to meet colleagues from other community colleges across the state, swap stories, share strategies, and commiserate. The conference sessions are always informative and help us confront the issues of the day.

This year, along with Andy Sako (Faculty Federation of Erie Community College President), NCCFT Secretary Richard Newman helped lead a session called “How You Can Be the Union: Embracing Your Role in the Movement:”

And here, courtesy of NYSUT, are some other images from the conference:

The Higher Ed Policy Council

NCCFT President Frank Frisenda and NCCFT Vice President Donna Hope with NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, Monroe Community College Faculty Association Bethany Gizzi, and Norma Chrisman of Mohawk Valley Community College

The HEPC is comprised of all the Community College Presidents, the CUNY PSC Executive Committee and the SUNY UUP Executive Committee. NYSUT staff members are also included in these meetings. Any constituent can place items on the agenda for discussion in order to provide relevant updates, seek cooperation or information. 

Leadership Conference

This year’s Leadership Conference focused on the implications of the Janus decision. Pictured above, from left to right, are: Political Action Committee Chair Uzo Osuno (Math), Professor Vondora Wilson-Corzen (Sociology), NYSUT’s Matt Jacobs, Professor Dave Stern (Physical Sciences), and NCCFT Vice President Donna Hope.

Representative Assembly

From Left to Right: NCCFT Delegate Christine Tuaillon, Secretary Richard Newman, President Frank Frisenda, Vice President Donna Hope, Vice President Dawn Smith

In May, our NYSUT delegates attended the Represenative Assembly in Albany. We attended the Higher Education Committee, where the focus was on combatting the pernicious influence of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. In the picture above, we are sitting in the General Session where all the voting takes place.

Women’s Council

Chaired by NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, the NYSUT Women’s Committee has four main goals: encourage more locals to develop in-house women’s committees; educate female members about the work of the union; highlight women-specific issues, including inequalities in pay, health care and education; and involve more union women in leadership roles. Vice President Donna Hope—you can see her at the bottom left in the image above—has been very active in the Council’s work. Here she is with MCCFA President Bethany Gizzi at the group’s meeting in 2018:

Nassau Foundation Events

We all know that The Nassau Foundation plays a vital role in the life of this college in more ways than one. Students and faculty, not to mention the college itself, all benefit from the funds the Foundation administers and distributes. We are, therefore, glad to have ended our boycott of the Foundation—another result of Dr. Keen’s leadership, as well as the new atmosphere of transparency and collegiality created by the Foundation’s Executive Director, Joy DeDonato, and her staff. This year, we attended three Foundation events.

Day of Illumination/Day of Giving

NCCFT President Frank Frisenda, Vice President Donna Hope, and Secretary Richard Newman attended the Nassau Foundation’s “Day of Giving” kick-off at the Nassau County Executive Building.

NCC’s Day of Giving is a one-day campaign to benefit the students, staff and faculty of Nassau Community College.  On this designated date everyone comes together to show their “Nassau Pride” by giving a charitable gift to support an area of their choosing: student scholarships, campus enhancement, athletics, academics, or faculty development programs. These funds have a profound impact on the College overall and enable NCC to continue its tradition of being the place where bright futures begin!

NCCFT President Frank Frisenda, Vice President Donna Hope, and Secretary Richard Newman attended the Nassau Foundation’s “Day of Giving” kick-off at the Nassau County Executive Building, which was lit up for the occasion in the college’s colors, blue and orange.

Men Who Cook

From left to right: NCCFT VP Dawn Smith, NCC President Keen, NCCFT President Frank Frisenda, NCCFT VP Donna Hope, NCCFT Treasurer Caroline Falconetti, NCCFT Secretary Richard Newman, Foundation Executive Directory Joy DeDonato, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors Michael McGinty, and Rudy Breedy, the Foundation’s Director of Development

Men Who Cook is a fun filled fundraiser at which popular men from the NCC community prepare a specialty dish to be sampled by everyone in attendance. Event attendees cast “votes” for their favorite dish and the chef with the most votes by the end of the night is crowned “King of the Kitchen!” Men Who Cook is a fundraising event to benefit the NCC Fund For Educational Opportunities which supports student scholarships, campus enhancements and assists the Nassau Community College Faculty & Staff whenever necessary.

If you look closely at the picture above, you can see that our president, Frank Frisenda, is holding the Men Who Cook “starter kit.” Perhaps we’ll get to taste his favorite dish next year!

Nassau Foundation Gala

This year, Frank Frisenda was among the honorees at The Nassau Community College Foundation’s Gala, along with NCC Board member John Durso, Dr. Steven Mendelsohn and Gloria Robles. We were happy and proud to have our president honored in this way.

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