The faculty at Nassau Community College gave an overwhelming vote of "no confidence" Thursday to Donald Astrab, now in his second year as the school's president.
Astrab, facing rising costs and a $2.75 million cut in state aid, has made a number of significant cuts, including the elimination of 40 temporary full-time instructors. He called that a "difficult, painful and, yes, unpopular" decision.
He also raised full-time tuition by $258 a year. Full-time faculty had wanted a hike of more than $400 in order to "maintain our quality of education," a faculty union representative said.
"The 392-48 vote is a powerful message that will be sent to the board of trustees, the SUNY vice chancellor and many others," said Philosophy Department chairman Mark Halfon, once an Astrab supporter. "He has managed to alienate virtually everyone here. His is an imperial presidency that hurts the school and its students."
The "no confidence" action has no legal weight, and Astrab, in a statement, defended his fiscal decisions.
"My goal has been to find a fiscally sustainable path that will assure our continued academic excellence," he said. "There are those in the faculty who believe we can achieve this through cosmetic changes and minor adjustments. But it will take much more than that."
Board of trustees chairman Michael Freeman said Astrab "has our full support. That's why the board extended his contract for more than three years."
The 51-year-old school has some 14,000 full-time students and about 750 full-time faculty. It is part of the State University of New York system and is the largest single-campus community college in the state. Its current budget is more than $202 million.