Since it opened in 1959, SUNY Nassau has often been described as the jewel of Nassau County and the New York state community college system. We have been one of the prime economic engines for the county, and a magnet for attracting residents. It is time to reinvest in the college so that its faculty can offer continued quality academics, programs and curriculum to prepare students for the 21st century.
The college will now go into its 15th year without a funding increase for its operational budget from Nassau County. This, along with a decade-long cut in state funding, has led to a shrinking full-time faculty, increases in tuition and cuts in student services, along with the college’s failure to develop and offer new programs and initiatives. Yet our own board of trustees won’t ask the County Legislature for an increase in our operating budget.
Where other college boards of trustees regularly ask for, and receive, 1 to 2 percent increases in their operating budgets, ours has not. This isn’t sustainable. If the board of trustees does not submit a revised budget proposal to the County Legislature, we will ask the Legislature to reject their proposal, and ask the board and administration to revise it.
County funding represents a significant portion of the college’s funding — about 25 percent of our total operating budget. Like all of us, the college has set expenses that have risen dramatically over the years. What other public institution can you think of that has not received any increase in funding in 15 years?
It is past time for the county to increase its investment in the college. SUNY Nassau students tend to stay in the county. They are rooted in the community and form part of the needed workforce, becoming our accountants, lawyers and small business owners. And yes, they stay on to become our valued neighbors and taxpayers. In sum, SUNY Nassau students are our future. In asking the county to raise the college’s operating budget, we are, in reality, asking the county to invest in its residents, businesses and in its own future. The benefits are limitless.
We believe that a great county deserves a great community college. To sign our petition, please go to www.Change.org/launch23for2023. A rally is scheduled for June 27, at 3:30 p.m., in front of the County Legislature building, at 1550 Franklin Ave., in Mineola, when a vote on the NCC budget is expected.
Dr. Faren Siminoff is president of the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers. Comments about this column? firstname.lastname@example.org.