1 Education Drive

Room F-3293 Garden City, New York 11530

April 12, 2022 Message to the Board of Trustees, Please Resign.

At the April 12 Board of Trustees’ meeting, the Board did not announce the election of an Interim President, but did award Counsel Donna Haugen an additional $10,000 for her work as Officer-in-Charge. Given that many on campus have taken on considerable work at no extra compensation in the past two years, given that she has not been seen on campus all year, and given that this money could be put to so many uses for our students, such as keeping the Library open during finals week, this payment did not sit well with many. In addition, the College has been paying John Gross at Ingerman Smith a great deal more money as well. Kathy Weiss announced portentously during the meeting that she was awaiting a text from Mr. Gross. At the meeting’s end, Dr. Gardyn announced that the Board of Trustees hopes to have an Interim President in place before the end of the academic year and that the Board is following SUNY procedure.

We are disappointed in this Board of Trustees, and we ask for their resignation. Over the past decade, they have neither successfully lobbied the State nor even requested additional funds from the County legislature for increases in NCC’s operating support. We will see what happens this coming May when the College and Board present their budget to the County Legislature from May 11 to May 31, but given their past track record, we have little hope or faith in these Trustees. The pandemic’s losses, following a decade of disinvestment by the State and no increases in operating support from the County in 14 years, are taking the College apart. Our Trustees have not engaged in fund-raising for the College. Where Suffolk Community College had, at least in 2019, an endowment of more than 7 million, NCC has zero. Additionally, our Trustees have supported, and continue to support, an administration which has overseen a decade of losses and questionable fiscal practices. Examples of mismanagement are legion:

  1. $100,000’s in salaries and benefits for the Foundation employees have been paid out, squandering our scarce resources.
  2. Hundreds of thousands have been spent to repeatedly patch and conceal the same infrastructure problems such as mold, instead of tackling the underlying problems in our facilities. 
  3. Despite the college having its own counsel a huge amount of money is annually paid to outside counsel, John Gross from Ingerman Smith, even during non-negotiating years. It appears that routine legal matters which in-house counsel should handle on its own are routinely funneled to Ingerman Smith resulting in astronomical legal expenses. 
  4. NCC’s enrollment losses are among the highest of New York’s community colleges. High tuition, late and poor marketing, poorly maintained buildings, a lack of vision to approve and invest in new programs and more full-time faculty and increasingly large classes, are all factors. 
  5. The Board and administration do not adequately support our current programs nor have a vision for our future. At this April 12 Board meeting, the administration bragged about our noteworthy Theatre department, yet has left it impoverished, with only 2 full-time faculty; this breaks with State education policy, which requires a full-time faculty member for each degree program. Even its two Technologists have been transferred to ITS.  Northwell invited Allied Health to partner with it in a sonographer training program, but the College was unwilling to hire the faculty to run the program. This, and many other failures have contributed to where we find ourselves today.
  6. SUNY continues to impose on us unfunded mandates such as Degree Works and Guided Pathways, with not a peep of protest from this administration or the Board of Trustees.
  7. Dual enrollment classes require college faculty mentoring of high school teachers with inadequate remuneration.
  8. Our faculty has spent a decade seeing minimal or no pay increases—and now high inflation—eroding our standard of living. Yet, the college, a little over a year ago, requested the NCCFT to sign an MOA demanding it be permitted to fire, at its selection, 30 faculty, eliminate lag pay, and more draconian sacrifices from our faculty. While the union did not sign this document, can there be any doubt what the college’s demands will be? 

April 12 Administrative Reports:

Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Phillip Cappello reported on many projects. Here are some:  the College is waiting for the County to approve construction plans for 108 Duncan, the Culinary Department’s new space. Electronic door access cards will be installed for G, North Hall, and part of B. The library roofing is almost complete. Major construction may include replacing the old underground hot water pipes that run throughout the campus and developing a new leak each year. New cables, etc were installed after breakages that led to the power outages on the west campus this spring. The pipes and the cables are both very old, from the 1930s. The Tower’s bathrooms need an upgrading, and new signage is needed on campus.

Regarding ventilation, Mr. Cappello stated that CanonDesign claims that they have completed a Phase One of work, bringing to “design standard” the issues identified by Airpath such as broken filters, missing parts, inoperable fans, etc. (See below for NCCFT VP David Stern’s statement.)  Phase 2, providing mechanical ventilation to brick building spaces, which have relied on windows for ventilation, is underway with the job awarded, the work being scoped out, and it should be completed in a year to year and a half. This will provide the brick buildings with adequate ventilation of air, including in the winter months. The 1970s Clusters are also getting new thermostats in rooms. Phase 3 will address modernizing systems campus-wide; we hope that this means bringing them in line with today’s clean air standards.

Vice President Julio Izquierdo reported that there will be no increase in student tuition or fees next year.  At the May 10 meeting, the Board will review and expects to approve the 2023 budget. The College will present a budget to County Legislators from May 11 to May 31 and to the full County legislature on June 27. A loss of between 13.5 and 13.6 million for 2022 is projected; the unreserved fund balance is 13,537,143.  After factoring in 17 million in reimbursements from the federal Cares/ Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) the “actual and projected unrestricted fund balance” is 35,188,224 million. VP Izquierdo noted that the County audit of the College is ongoing.  

We would like to add here that in the February 2, 2022 Nassau County Legislature’s Interdepartmental Memo, “NCC 2020-2021 Year End, 2021-2022 First Quarter Projection,” it was noted that in 2023, HEERF funds would not be available. We ask, therefore, that the College and Trustees lobby the Nassau County legislature to increase our operating funds in order to preserve the College. We also ask the Board and Legislature to look into private donations that will preserve and grow NCC.   

VP Izquierdo reported that State aid will be 34 million for 2023, which is the same as this year.  That is the very disappointing “funding floor” which Governor Hochul gave us. We were hoping that an amount based on pre-pandemic enrollment numbers might be used. NYSUT had been pushing this, and, indeed, both the New York State Higher Education Senate and Assembly committees had urged that pre-pandemic years’ enrollment numbers be used in determining FTE funding for community colleges.

Registrar Chester Barkan reported that there was a 36% increase in headcount and 52% in credit count for Late Start this spring. Summer registration is down compared to last year by 25%, but Mr. Barkan emphasized that summer has several terms, etc. so much is still in flux. There is an increase so far of 32% in new visiting students registered for the summer. In a student survey, students’ first choice of modality for the summer was remote, then online, third choice was in-person; fourth was “whatever,” and 5th, hybrid.  

Assistant Vice President David Follick reported that first-year applications for Fall 2022 are, so far, 235 fewer than last year. The number of re-admit student applications for Fall 2022 is down by 152. Placement testing is up: 492 students were tested compared to 327 students last year and placement testing is being offered at high schools. College fairs in high schools are happening again. Forty-five high school counselors and superintendents came to campus for a breakfast on April 12. Students are invited for in-person admissions information on April 18 and April 21:  100 and 70 students have registered for each date respectively. Five high schools in Sewanhaka School district will offer dual enrollment math classes. Long Beach was approved for English and math dual enrollment classes. So far 43 applications for dual enrollment classes for the fall 2022 semester have been processed from various high schools, mostly Baldwin. (Dual enrollment is high school faculty teaching with NCC faculty as mentors; concurrent enrollment is when students are on the NCC campus between 8:00 and 2:30.)

Assistant Vice President Follick noted that the Theatre Department’s production of Urinetown was used in marketing to students. This is a bit ironic as not only does the College refuse to hire more full-time faculty for the Theatre Department, leaving them with only 2 full-time faculty, but it took away their 2 technologists who manage their lighting, sound, etc. for shows (and help teach students these skills).  Also, the County has twice failed to utilize State funds available for a new Theatre building; NCC’s small stages surely are a detraction to many applicants, despite the fact that it is the only community college in New York to offer a AA degree in Acting. 

We are happy to announce that many members were promoted at the Board meeting. A full list follows at the end; please scroll down.

Officer-in-Charge Donna Haugen announced that enrollment fell, nationally, by 13% during the pandemic.  She expressed hope that “partnering with K-12 schools” to offer courses through local school districts will raise our College enrollment.  She did not say how much dual enrollment courses raise our State funding in FTE calculations, however.  Concurrent enrollment is the far better route in terms of College funding. It also does not present the issue of College supervision of high school faculty, an unfunded mandate. 

Public Session Statements:

NCCFT President Dr. Faren Siminoff told the Board of Trustees that the Board has not done a wonderful job these past 10 years. She said that “the College has a failure of vision, imagination, and has not listened to their full-time faculty. The core of the administration, which has been around this past decade, has failed and this Board of Trustees is supporting them. While Suffolk Community College has an endowment, 7 million in 2019, we do not. This Board does not fundraise.”  President Siminoff stated, “As I tell my students, if you are going to approach problems in the same way, you will have the same results.  For the good of the College, . . .  you need to resign.  Ask the County to give us new blood, who will come to this Board with new energy and passion for the work.  Let the governor and the County Executive appoint new trustees.” 

Dr. Thomas Bruckner, Chair of Physical Sciences, congratulated President Faren on her bravery and emphasized that she has the support of many on campus.

NCCFT VP Dr. David Stern stated that the mold and poor ventilation are not being taken seriously:  “The administration and Board should be collaborating with faculty. Why is a standard operation system not be used to keep humidity below 65% this year?” Stern asked. He noted that Vice President Capello said that repairs had been made, and Stern emphasized: “this should allow the humidity to be controlled if it is correctly operated.”  NCCFT VP Stern’s warning is that “Mold 2022” will occur if a standard operation system is not put in place; he asked that the board pass a resolution to put a standard operation system in place.

Faculty Promotions:

We congratulate the following members on their promotions, approved at the April 12 meeting of the Board of Trustees:

Tenure and Promotion to Assistant Professor

Tracyann Ayala   (Economics)
Whitney P. Glass   (Marketing/ Retail/ FAshion Buying and Merchandising)
Stephanie Kraszewski   (Psychology)
David O’Brien   (Physical Sciences)
Judith E. Steinhart   (Health, Physical Education and Recreation)

Promotion to Administrative Assistant IV

Liza Narvas   (Financial Aid)
Thomas O’Beirne   (Admissions)

Promotion to Administrative Assistant III

Christopher Scimone (Financial Aid)

Promotion to Technologist III

Ziaullah Khan Durrani (Information Technology Services)
Jason Pistorino (Information Technology Services)

Promotion to Technologist II

Daniel Perrotto   (Allied Health Sciences)

Promotion to Associate Professor

Benjamin Arendsen  (Music)
Joseph Bernat   (Mathematics, Comp Sci and IT)
Sabrina Davis-Golgoski  (English)
Ernest DeFalco (Mathematics, Comp Sci and IT)
Amanda Favia (Philosophy)
George Frost (Economics and Finance)
Tracy Imperato (Physical Sciences)
Sandra Keegan (Mathematics, Comp Sci and IT)
Brian Murphy (English)
Seeta Ramprasad (Student Personnel Services)
Laura Smith (Student Personnel Services)
Nathan Wasserbauer (Art)
Daniel Wolman (Economics and Finance)

Promotion to Full Professor

Stella Apostolidis  (English)
Joan Buckley (Nursing)
Richard E. Cohen (Physical Sciences)
Denise Deal ( Biology)
John DeSpagna (Accounting and Business Administration)
Lisa Errico   (Library)
Caroline Falconetti (Accounting and Business Administration)
Christine Faraday (Library)
Robert Genter (History, Political Science, Geography)
Charles Hicks (Chemistry)
Heather Huntington (Mathematics, Comp Sci and IT)
Jessica Marra (Health, Physical Education, and Recreation)
Alfredo Mellace   (Chemistry)
Debra Mendelson (Nursing)
Deborah Panzer-Kilmnick (Communications)
Mahmood Pournazari (Mathematics, Comp Sci and IT)
Francesco Pupa (Philosophy)
Elisa Salvi (Legal Studies)
Nina Shah-Giannaris (Engineering, Physics, and Technology)

5 Responses

    1. Isn’t it amazing that NCC, in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, with at least 2 Trustees who are multimillionaires and live in mansions, does not have an endowment?

  1. For many years I have been saying that we need to take a vote of No Confidence in this Board of Trustees. The fact that we have now experienced 5 presidents in the past 10 years indicates that this Board is incompetent in their role of overseeing the operations of this institution. There are many other reasons to doubt the ability of this Board to do its job, many of which have been pointed to in this blog posting.

  2. Just yesterday I learned that as of summer 2021, the College Admissions ceased to have a fully online application process. In other words, applicants have had to either come in person to the College (during Covid!) or have access to a printer and mail in their application since then. The reason given was that the software was no longer supported. We will never know how much this adversely affected College enrollment in fall 2021 or continues to hurt enrollment numbers. However, much of our student population is economically precarious, experiencing insecure access to food, housing, and transportation. It is doubtful this population has a printer. Also, many public libraries, which maybe provide printing, were closed due to the pandemic.

    Both not having a fully online Admissions process and not reporting on the lack look very bad for our upcoming Middle States’ review. How can this administrative decision be in keeping with NCC’s strategic goals? Assistant Vice President David Follick made no mention of this change in his report on enrollment. We are also missing a process of self-evaluation and self- improvement since there is not full disclosure of important procedural changes. The College’s administration’s actions and inactions are hidden and unexamined. I am curious whether this change in policy, that is not to have a fully online Admissions application process, was ever presented at the Academic Senate for discussion.

    Re-instating a fully online Admissions application process would be another excellent use of that $10,000 given to Officer in Charge Donna Haugen, and the thousands that have been paid to Ingerman Smith.

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