On Mar 8, 2022, the Board of Trustees’ regularly scheduled meeting was canceled due to a lack of quorum; however, its committees met. Much misinformation was presented. Facts matter. Let’s correct the record:
WASTE: The Administration reported the College’s intent to sub-let the Endo Building (“North Annex)” to BOCES for $500K/year. There was no discussion of the fact that NCC does not own this building but has been renting it for 13 years; NCC has a 20-year lease with an annual rent-escalation clause. The current rent is 1.2 million per year. There was no mention of this fact. Nor was it mentioned that the College does not use the North Annex. We suggest the Administration either attempt to negotiate an end to this lease or renegotiate its terms. If it did this in the past, we suggest they attempt again.
SHORT-SIGHTED: The Board of Trustees approved the Administration’s proposal to keep tuition frozen; however, the Board of Trustees failed to discuss the impact of NCC’s high tuition on enrollment. NCC currently has the highest community college tuition in the New York metropolitan region. NCC’s tuition and fees are $353 more than Suffolk’s and a whopping $1,000 more than Queensborough’s. Losses in enrollment to the surrounding community colleges result in lost tuition, state aid (“FTEs”), and “chargebacks” which require the community college to reimburse the county for the tuition paid to the out-of-county community college. Over the past 10 years, NCC has lost enrollment of non-Nassau county students as well as of Nassau County students to Suffolk County Community College and Queensborough Community College. Lower tuition and effective marketing campaigns by these neighboring community colleges, along with poor NCC administrative management, have damaged NCC’s ability to attract students. Yet, there was no discussion of this.
MISTAKEN STRATEGY: The Administration and the trustees also failed to discuss strategies to lobby the State for more support. In fact, the Administration indicated that they thought it was unlikely that the State would provide the college a base funding linked to the 2018-19 funding levels. Nor was there any discussion of reversing the Board of Trustees’ 13-year practice of not requesting more financial assistance from our local sponsor, Nassau County.
FAILURE TO CONSIDER: There was no report on the faculty’s many proposed academic initiatives. Examples:
- The Math, Computer Science IT department recently developed a new cybersecurity program which the administration decided not to advertise and decided not to support with needed resources.
- Northwell Health approached the Allied Health Department to develop a sonography program. Faculty developed a proposal, but the current administration and Board of Trustees decided to pass on the program, costing the college potential revenue.
- Numerous initiatives have been proposed by academic departments and incorporated into the College’s strategic plan, but receive no support from the administration and the Board of Trustees.
CONTINUED FAILED POLICY: The Administration and the Board of Trustees believe the college’s financial woes can best be resolved by a hiring freeze, which has been their approach for over a decade. This policy of disinvestment in the college has resulted in academic and non-academic departments losing significant numbers of their faculty, a failure to implement new programs, and a loss of services to our students. This failed policy is seen in close to a 50% decline in student enrollment over this same period, yet the Administration and Board of Trustees never waver in this approach or consider different options.
At the same time, some expenditures have increased: administrative, legal, and facility costs. Note that the facilities’ expenditures over the decade have gone to patch the same problems over and over, never to permanent fixes. The NCCFT has repeatedly raised the issue that these cosmetic fixes waste scarce resources. There was only a cursory statement to use capital funding to reduce operating expenses. Note that unlike most colleges, NCC has no standard operating procedures for its facilities and wastes large sums on several contractors to provide facilities’ support, with nothing to show for these expenditures.
NOT A LAUGHING MATTER: V-P Izquierdo spent a few minutes mocking the County auditors’ request to ascertain the status of the College’s audit. The Administration inaccurately reported that the audit issue regarding enrollment was limited to its fiscal impact on NCC’s budget. The Administration failed to inform the Board that the audit is looking into the causes for dropping enrollments and why NCC’s are dropping more rapidly than at surrounding community colleges.
MISGUIDED EXPENDITURES: The Administration reported that they are still using the report from Cannon Design which they admit was faulty because the college provided outdated and inaccurate information. Note, there was no discussion of the Administration’s failures resulting in another waste of college funds. Inexplicably, the College will use the same contractor for two more reports with no quality control in place to prevent another defective report. One of these reports will include recommendations for upgrading automation. This is ironic because the College has already spent large amounts on outside contractors that were to provide that automation. The Board of Trustees failed to question any of the deficiencies of these reports and failed to question the effectiveness of passed approved expenditures.
In response to the NCCFT’s repeated demand that portable HEPA air filtration units be installed in ALL occupied spaces as a stop-gap measure, the administration indicated that they will only place these units in the spaces identified as unsafe by the faulty Cannon Design report. Instead of questioning this issue, the Board of Trustees praised themselves for responding to faculty concerns.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Board of Trustees continues to support a failed administration, failed policies, and failed contractors. Apparently, their mantra is: failure has its rewards. This is certainly not the message we want to send our students.