Group: NCC selection committee lacks diversity

Anissa Moore, right, president of the Nassau Community Anissa Moore, right, president of the Nassau Community College group ALANA, stands with fellow members in a computer room on campus. (April 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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Leaders of a minority faculty and staff organization at Nassau Community College say they were wrongly denied a seat on the committee to select the college's next president and are planning to appeal to the full board of trustees at its meeting Thursday night.

The group, ALANA -- which stands for African, Latino, Asian and Native American Alliance -- has spent the last two months lobbying college trustees and State University of New York officials to get a representative on the committee, which they say lacks adequate racial diversity.

Trustees said opening up a committee seat to every campus group is not possible, and would complicate the selection process and run counter to the advice of state university officials.

In 2009, the last time NCC undertook a presidential search, the 18-member selection committee was too large, state officials said.

"This is a critical time in the college's future," said Anissa Moore, ALANA's president and an associate professor of communication. "The college's structure has literally silenced groups of color and we feel like this is the time to be part of the process."

The current search committee has 15 members: four NCC trustees, two representatives from the Nassau County Legislature, one from the county executive's office, one each from the three campus faculty and employee unions, one representing the department chairmen, one representing the academic senate, the president of the student government, a college administrator and a community representative.

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By race and gender, the committee comprises seven white women, five white men, two black men and one Asian man, said trustee Anthony Cornachio, who was charged with appointing the group's members.

Cornachio, a Garden City lawyer, said there was no intention to exclude faculty and staff members of color from the selection process.

"You can have a congress or you can have a committee," he said. "We could take every single campus group and it would be completely unmanageable."

Craig Wright, a representative from the school's administration who is on the selection committee, is a member of ALANA, Cornachio said.

Wright, who is black, is the college's associate vice president for equity, inclusion, affirmative action and Americans With Disabilities Act.

SUNY officials have said that the presidential searches are to be conducted at the campus level. College trustees are responsible for appointing members of the selection committee, according to SUNY guidelines.

Thirty-six people had applied for the president's job as of Tuesday. The job was posted in 12 periodicals, seven of which are targeted to a racially diverse audience, Cornachio said.

Kenneth Saunders is the school's acting president. An administrator at NCC for more than 13 years, he formally applied for the president's position on Monday, college officials said. Saunders is black.

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NCC trustees have said they hope to have a new president by June.

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