MCC Daily Tribune

President's Wednesday Message

In this week's Message, I'll tackle two more questions about College processes and decision-making.

I've heard that some Association employees were moved over to the College's payroll. Why are we doing that, especially in a time of tight resources?

Five staff who were previously funded by the MCC Association have been moved over to College funding. The decision grew out of a resource-driven review: the Association's primary budgetary source is the student life fee. Not surprisingly, revenues from this fee rise and fall with enrollment. The Association has its own governing board including students, faculty, administrators, and independent members, and in the context of declining revenue, it has been reviewing its expenditures with a goal of maximizing the availability of student life fees for student activities, clubs, and organizations. Part of this review included an analysis of staffing, which revealed that--over time--several positions paid for with Association funds had taken on more college-wide responsibilities. In other words, if these responsibilities were important to MCC's core work, these positions should be funded by the College, not the Association. Vice President Lloyd Holmes and Assistant to the President Melissa Fingar assessed the positions; Assistants to the President Cynthia Mapes and Kristin Lowe are finalizing MCC job descriptions, which were developed with Human Resources and these employees.

In times of tighter budgets, it is easier to spot outliers, but the discussions about what may no longer fit within an organization's mission or strategic directions and how to address this are never any easier. Above, I use the word "positions," but we know that each job in question was (and is) filled with a person--a valued colleague who has been serving our students and working alongside us each day. So, I am especially thankful to Executive Director of the MCC Association Ginny Geer-Mentry, the Association Board, the MCC personnel identified above, and the employees impacted by this shift for their professionalism through what was a thoughtful and deliberate process.

Our Trustees aren't elected, so who selects them? Aren't they just a rubber stamp for the president?

New York State Education Law establishes the membership, appointing authority, and terms of SUNY community college trustees. Initially, SUNY community college boards were composed of nine members, but in 1975, the decision was made to include a student member with full voting rights. Unlike the remaining trustees, the student member is elected by her/his peers and has a one-year term. Five trustees are appointed by the local legislative body; one may be a member of the legislative body. (Since President Spina's tenure, the President of the Monroe County Legislature has served as one of MCC's Trustees.) Four trustees who must reside within the sponsoring community are appointed by the governor. The term of appointed trustees is seven years; they can be reappointed.

The Monroe County Legislature identifies candidates for the five seats it appoints; the four gubernatorial appointees are identified and then recommended to the governor by the leadership of our state delegation. I do not recommend candidates for our Board. I report to and am assessed by the Trustees, and it is not my place to select my supervisors.

Because of the responsibility and authority vested in community college trustees, who volunteer their time in service, they go through a substantial vetting process prior to appointment. Some of you may have heard that community colleges have gone years waiting for gubernatorial trustee appointments or reappointments. This is true and has happened at MCC. The delay is due in part to the extensive vetting conducted by the Governor's office. In these cases, trustees--if they are willing--may hold over until the new appointment is made. Each trustee takes a formal oath of office and completes a conflict of interest report annually.

MCC's Trustees are engaged and informed. They receive Board materials in advance of the meetings, which include detailed presentations on MCC's financials and outcomes on strategic goals. In addition to the regularly scheduled meetings, they participate in two workshops each year (budget and enrollment). If you've attended the Board meetings or the workshops, you will have seen that our Trustees are not shy about asking questions. They receive weekly updates on College activities and have the opportunity to attend state and national trustee convenings through the New York Community College Trustees consortium and the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

Throughout the year, our Trustees receive publications and reports from MCC, SUNY, ACCT, and the Association of Governing Boards. They attend college events, meet with students and faculty, receive the FAN (Faculty Association newsletter), and more.

During my time at MCC, the Board has made many changes to assure it is fulfilling its responsibilities to the College, including: formalizing the process of reviewing and adopting policies to include first and second readings that allow for discussion and revision; providing time on the Board agenda for reports from shared governance leaders; providing time on the Board agenda for an open forum for registered speakers; and establishing a Board of Trustees website. This year, the Board will begin holding some meetings at the Downtown Campus.

If you have other questions you would like answered, share them on the blog or convey it anonymously using this link.

Kress, Anne
Marketing and Community Relations
08/02/2017