Maria Conzatti holds down fort at NCC

Alum, longtime faculty member new interim president


Maria Conzatti has two major goals for the next 12 months: To have Nassau Community College “live” the word “community,” and to serve that community through a number of new diverse programs.

Appointed last May as NCC’s interim president, Conzatti’s term lasts a year, with the possibility of going longer if a permanent president isn’t found. Striving to offer a wider range of courses for Nassau County, Conzatti plans to bring new vocational classes like welding and HVAC — heating, ventilation and air conditioning — to the campus.

Conzatti is hardly new to the NCC campus, instrumental in a number of different roles over the past 33 years. She has had a hand in both academic and technical departments, served as an adjunct business professor, and even as an academic dean and executive vice president. 

Conzatti is even an alum, attending NCC between 1984 and 1986. Working at the college was her way of giving back.

“I’m a product of the college, I graduated from here as a first-generation alum,” Conzatti said. “This place really gave me my start and has offered me a wonderful career. So, in a way, I owe the college.” 

Understanding the diverse background of students drawn to NCC, Conzatti wants to cast a wider net in who enrolls by adding newer hands-on curriculum and class times.

“Not every student certainly was meant to go to college and spend two and or four years being educated,” she said. “So we’re going to be looking to really diversify program availability here at the college.”

That means more time options for nights and weekends, in addition to unique stepping-stone classes like vocational training and micro-credentials — education and training for more specific aspects of subjects and careers.

More classes would mean more ways to explore careers and interests.

“You can take an HVAC class, and maybe you decide that, you know what, you want to major in engineering,” Conzatti said. “Maybe with that HVAC class, we can give you three credits toward a certificate or an associate’s degree. So, to me, I think it’s all interconnected.”

Although still in development, Conzatti plans to renovate and re-purpose buildings for welding and HVAC to properly accommodate the programs. 

The student-driven courses might help fight a national problem — “stop-outs.” It’s where students attend classes, but drop out for any number of life events or reasons — like getting married, or building a family — and then they come back to possibly finish their education again.

At a public community college, “we’re no strangers to this,” Conzatti said. “This is something that the college has always had.”

In line with national trends for community colleges, NCC is expected to welcome fewer students this year, especially coming out of Covid-19.

“That’s always been a community college issue,” Conzatti said. “We certainly continue to see that here at the college.”

Weathering both stop-outs and lower enrollment, Conzatti still boasts the sheer number of students who do finish their education,

“We have over 168,000 alumni,” she said. “I mean, how many colleges can say that? That’s the people that graduate, not even people that just came to take a couple of classes because they wanted to get an increase in their pay.”

For Conzatti, it’s all about creating a better future for students.

“If you look at some of these schools, they’re charging a tremendous amount of money to do this,” she said. “We can help, and that’s what I mean by community service. It’s an aid to our community. We need to, and we can do it affordably. And that’s what we need to do.”