NCC president finalist withdraws
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The judge who was a finalist in the search to be the next president of Nassau Community College has pulled his name from consideration, college trustees confirmed Tuesday.
State Supreme Court Justice Anthony Marano, 70, of Valley Stream, sent college officials an undated and unsigned letter effectively withdrawing his name, said acting board of trustees chairman Dr. Jorge Gardyn and trustee Anthony Cornachio.
Cornachio, head of the 15-person presidential search committee, said he received the letter late last week. He said Marano also told him in a telephone conversation that he was withdrawing.
"He said he didn't think the search was going anywhere and he wished the college luck and the search luck," Cornachio said Tuesday.
At Tuesday night's trustees meeting, two new members were welcomed to the board: student Jocelyn Molina, 20, a liberal-arts major from Roslyn; and longtime educator Kathy Weiss, 63. Weiss was appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. She is an adjunct professor at LIU Post's education school and a former superintendent of the Baldwin school district. She holds a PhD from New York University and lives in Oyster Bay.
The board then voted on the college's budget and discussed the presidential-selection process.
Trustees approved the college's $214 million budget. Tuition for full-time students would rise by $98 a year and $4 for part-time students.
They also spent nearly two hours discussing the presidential search, but took no action on the matter.
Trustee Jorge L. Gardyn proposed an independent evaluation of the search process by an outside organization, but that idea was quickly rejected by trustees Cornachio, Ed Powers, John DeGrace and Arnold Drucker, who argued the search committee members would not participate in an independent evaluation of their efforts. Cornachio and Powers refused to go into executive session on the matter after the idea was raised.
Trustee Mary Adams said after the meeting she was in favor of such a probe by an outside organization.
In Marano's letter, obtained by Newsday, the judge thanked the search committee for its consideration: "As for my candidacy, I believe it would be best to remove myself from consideration," he wrote. "I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the selection committee for the professional and respectful treatment experienced during the process. I look forward to seeing Nassau Community College flourish as it moves forward."
Marano did not return calls seeking comment. The judge was one of three finalists named in May, along with Joyce Ester, 47, of Chicago, president of Kennedy-King College, part of the Chicago city college system; and Elana Zolfo, 63, of Smithtown, former interim president of Dowling College.
The search to replace former NCC president Donald Astrab, who left last summer after 30 months on the job and two faculty votes of no-confidence, has made headlines because of allegations it excluded certain campus groups from the selection process and that it was biased during the 10-month search.
A minority group claimed it was shut out of the process after unsuccessfully lobbying for representation on the search committee. The student representative on the search committee also claimed she was excluded when interviews were scheduled during class time.
After the finalists were announced, Kenneth Saunders, acting president of the college, who is black, claimed he was treated unfairly during the interview process.
Several campus faculty leaders, including Kimberley Reiser, the former president of NCC's academic senate who also was a member of the search committee, said last night that committee members were insulted by the idea of another evaluation.
But Philip Nicholson, the retiring chairman of the history, political science and geography department, and other faculty members shouted at the board Tuesday night and were visibly upset that no resolution came out of the meeting.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher's office late last month stepped in, halting the search and calling on former NCC board of trustees chairman Geoffrey N. Prime to launch an investigation and uphold the integrity of the search. A week later, Prime stepped down, citing scheduling conflicts.
Zimpher's office later deemed the search "beyond the point of an investigation" and urged college officials to start anew despite protest from members of the search committee, including the leaders of three faculty groups, who said the search was conducted fairly.
The board is at an impasse over whether to move forward with the current search or start a new one.
Powers, DeGrace, Drucker, Weiss and Molina all declined to answer questions after the meeting. Cornachio, however, said he had heard from a state official the chancellor's position could change, but he would not disclose his source.
SUNY spokesman David Doyle said Monday that Zimpher was not changing her position.