Newsday’s editorial board has once again revealed its prejudice against NCC’s highly regarded faculty by cherry picking and distorting facts to suit its own agenda. Newsday would like to lay much of the blame for NCC’s problems at the feet of its unionized faculty and shared governance system. Yet, the Middle States Report, which extolled NCC’s full-time faculty and cited its “top” administration as failing, contradicts the premise of Newsday’s condemnation of NCC’s faculty and system of shared governance. A quick review of our history and the facts, dispel Newsday’s assertion that NCC’s “imperious faculty” has usurped the powers of the president and “top administrators” thus running the college into the ground:
- This “imperious” faculty has lost close to 230 full-time faculty lines since President Fanelli left at the end of 2009.
- This “imperious” faculty has seen its working conditions deteriorate and workload increase without corresponding increases in salary since 2010.
- The sacrifices made in the current NCCFT contract: lag pay, retirement incentives, and paltry raises, were all agreed to in order to assist the college overcome its financial problems. Our “top” administrators and Newsday have conveniently forgotten this.
- A system of shared governance is mandated by state law, SUNY, and accepted higher education practices. Newsday appears to be under the impression that faculty unilaterally control the Academic Senate and ignores the fact that the Senate is comprised of faculty, students, and administrators.
- The administration, over strenuous objection from faculty, have steadily increased class size, despite the fact that small class sizes are universally recognized as key to student retention.
- The administration has ignored the need for more full-time faculty (counselors, academic advisors, librarians, teaching and others) despite the fact that full-time faculty are key to student retention.
- Money has been expended to hire new six-figure salaried administrators without Affirmative Action searches. (cited in the Middle States report)
- The NCC Foundation remains unaccountable to the college community. Since 2012 its staff has ballooned to approximately eight employees who are paid over $500,000 in salaries and benefits even while raising less money to support the college than in the past. Upon information and belief the Foundation actually owes the college money.
- The presidential search debacle was, in large measure, due to SUNY’s initial interference in the process and violation of their own guidelines. SUNY was instrumental in plunging NCC into this three- year ordeal. While Newsday lauds SUNY’s “brilliantly executed move” to provide us with a new president, let’s not forget the active role SUNY played in creating this mess.
- Last, but not widely known, Newsday was aware that racism played no role in the first presidential search committee’s derailment. A Newsday email to a “top” NCC administrator demonstrates that the driving force behind the efforts to disrupt the search, after Ken Saunders was rejected, was “favoritism”and not racism. And, in case we have all forgotten, the faculty favored the African American female candidate from Chicago.
Here’s where we do agree with Newsday. The NCC faculty is rooting for President Keen to succeed. However, he can only do so by being fully apprised of NCC’s recent history and collaborating with all college constituents in order to determine what steps need to be taken to steady NCC’s course. No doubt, Dr. Keen has a tough job ahead of him, but we are certain that he will be greeted by an outstanding faculty ready to work with him to restore NCC’s reputation for excellence and propel us into a bright future.