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NCC is in Chaos: Call for State Legislative Oversight

On Monday, April 15, 2024, we held a press conference to announce our letter to New York state legislators asking for New York state legislative investigation and oversight of NCC.  Below is a video clip of Long Island News 12 coverage, and, at the bottom, a copy of our letter to the chairs of the New York state legislature’s Committee for Higher Education, Senator Stavisky and Assembly Member Fahy.

Dear Senator Stavisky and Assembly Member Fahy, 

I am writing on behalf of the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers to express our deep concern regarding the financial mismanagement and administrative instability at Nassau Community College. The ongoing turmoil is causing serious distress to our faculty and student body that threatens to undermine higher education for thousands of students on Long Island – particularly amon

We can no longer sit idle as the current NCC administration and Board of Trustees continue to ignore our repeated requests to meet and engage in a constructive dialogue. They refuse to consult with us nor solicit input on our ideas to increase student enrollment, address the multi-million dollar projected fiscal deficit, and make critical investments to upgrade academic facilities that have been neglected for years.

Instead, we have been met with hostility. On several instances, the administration has chosen to publicly disparage and privately threaten our members when raising issues of academic standing or bringing legitimate concerns to their attention. Politics rule the day at our community college, and it is leading us towards a path of financial insolvency without a real vision for the future. It should be no surprise that the Nassau County College Federation of Teachers recently adopted a vote of no confidence with the administration.

NCC needs drastic administrative changes to avoid becoming the next Nassau University Medical Center. To date, NCCFT has called on the Nassau County Legislature to formally establish a Higher Education Committee and that it should commence a transparent investigation of the community college.

There has been a longstanding pattern of fiscal negligence because of NCC Trustees’ budgetary non-compliance and lack of financial planning, which conflicts with Middle States’ focus on documented fiscal resources for accredited institutions. Despite projections of budget deficits and Middle States’ requirement for strong fiscal management, NCC’s trustees haven’t sought increased funding from the county since 2009. The failure to address projected deficits and declining additional funding even when offered as occurred in 2022 jeopardizes the college’s accreditation, indicating significant fiscal negligence by the trustees. Equally disturbing is the failure of the current NCC administration to hire a permanent, searched for Vice President of Finance. During Dr. Conzatti’s two-year tenure at the helm of NCC, the college has had five (5) acting individuals in this position. For a college which claims to be facing a more than $27 million structural deficit based on their latest financial projection, one would expect that hiring a permanent VP would be a priority. Without stable, coherent, and competent leadership we anticipate NCC’s financial condition to worsen.

Separate from the fiscal crisis that we face, NCC has employed questionable hiring practices and a failure to adhere to shared governance protocol. A recent presidential search indicates favoritism towards the interim President, now designated as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Maria Conzatti, when the NCC Board of Trustees bypassed the search committee’s recommendations. Dr. Conzatti was previously rejected by SUNY for lacking the necessary qualifications to lead this academic institution. Refusal to begin a new search suggests the Board’s disregard for SUNY and Middle States guidelines. Multiple chief executive officers and temporary appointments also raise serious concerns about the college’s adherence to established procedures and its ability to fulfill its mission.

Dr. Conzatti has taken several actions that create more bureaucracy and less academic opportunity at the community college. She continues to hire unqualified individuals and create unnecessary positions, which does not include the extensive turnover and instability among her executive team since 2022. While she undertakes these, Dr. Conzatti continues to defund DEI programs and student clubs, slash full-time faculty and counselor positions, and fails to make critical investments into outdated academic facilities. As the full-time faculty has decreased so has retention, and there is no plan to reverse this trend.

Recently, her administration refused to undertake a shared governance process with faculty before unilaterally implementing a misguided consolidation plan that will reduce academic departments by nearly 70 percent. While the impacted department chairs were afforded the opportunity to submit comments after the plan was devised and presented it was clear from the outcome this was a mere formality. The overall objections to this plan were ignored. If they had genuinely engaged with our Academic Senate and chairs beforehand, they would have explained that such a radical restructuring without conducting a data-driven analysis will unfairly and arbitrarily lead to unnecessary cuts to classes and programs which serve our students and the broader community. 

Even Dr. Conzatti herself on October 25 declared that this drastic merger will not produce real efficiencies and cost savings. In fact, no other SUNY community college of NCC’s size has such a structure. For example, under the proposed structure, the Social and Behavioral Sciences department chair would have to contend with 9,000 students among the myriad of other duties with minimal clerical support, while discrete programs’ accreditation such as our outstanding Nursing program will be put in jeopardy.

For these reasons and more, we are calling for state legislative oversight to hold NCC accountable. We have requested the New York State Senate and Assembly Higher Education Committees to hold public hearings in Albany to examine the myriad of issues following the adoption of the state budget. By having the chance to hear from faculty, outside experts, and education professionals in an open forum, it is our hope that state legislators can help us develop stronger fiscal, academic, and administrative policies at the community college.

We support a new plan that is rational, reasonable, and economical to enhance academics that have largely been ignored under this administration. Most of all, our 415 members deserve a seat at the table like all other SUNY community colleges.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to speaking with you. 


Faren Siminoff 
President, Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers

9 Responses

  1. I started my academic career at NCC in 1965 when the school had standards and not everyone was admitted. There was also a dress code that did not allow women to wear pants. Later I became a full time tenured professor at NCC. While there were many changes at the college, I felt that we were all working to help our students get a good education. This information was valuable for me to hear. It also saddened me.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. The actions of this administration has severely impacted the quality of the education in the nursing department. They have decreased the number of adjunct faculty by nearly half. The adjunct faculty were used in the labs to provide support for the full time faculty in the classroom. This has led to full time faculty being responsible for teaching and testing up to 32 students by themselves. This has led to students not having the opportunity to learn and develop hands on skills that previously were supported by the adjunct faculty in the lab. The full time faculty cannot afford the students the opportunity to use SIM technology to improve learning because they don’t have the resources and additional faculty necessary. The overall goal of providing the community with nurses who are able to provide quality care for patients is in jeopardy!

  3. Africana Studies is being merged into the Art Department? How much more disrespect and outright racism can you show for People of Color? At a time when the student body is predominantly Black and Brown, the College has chosen to get rid of the one department that serves them directly. Yet, the plan to get rid of Africana Studies began long ago when the College made the decision to dismantle it little by little (reducing faculty lines, cutting the budget, getting rid of all administrative staff) to avoid the public outcry that would have resulted in an overt show of racism. The irony is that this move is counterproductive to enrollment since the communities that surround NCC are primarily communities of color! This just goes to show that Dr. King was right when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Africana Studies was the College’s test case for how much they could actually get away with and once they were emboldened, they continued their purge against all of the departments.

  4. Forward to Tom Suozzi Garden City district congressman and Chuck Schumer your Senator. It’s clear your county officials are not with NCC

  5. My word, Faren! I’m in shock. I’ve been hearing about the progressive degradation in dribblets, but now that I’ve read your letter, I see the enormity of what’s happening.

    Is there no way to mobilize the faculty and students for a wave of protests? The clinical presentation of facts and figures, while important for accounting purposes, won’t succeed in engaging the community as repeated demonstrations can and will. The community must understand that its future is at stake and be impelled to act.

    In solidarity,


  6. It didn’t begin when you think it began and it is not going to be over when you think you found the fix.

    The culture (including all employees at NCC) has been eroding for some time and an adversarial management approach developed during that time and seems to continue. Policies and procedures with Board support would be a step in the right direction.

    And , you have to find and secure a top finance person! To do that, you are going to have to pay and make some guarantees because the state of affairs is not good.

    And be careful of County involvement – they will look to make NCC a place to dump political appointees….be very careful.

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