Nassau Community College won't launch new presidential search

Jorge L. Gardyn, second from left, votes to

Jorge L. Gardyn, second from left, votes to table a vote to create a presidential search committee during a meeting of the Nassau Community College Board of Trustees. (Oct. 29, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)

Nassau Community College will not launch a new presidential search after its board of trustees voted Tuesday night to table a resolution to create a committee to hire the next leader.

The vote was 6-1, with trustee Anthony Cornachio casting the sole dissenting vote.

Dr. Jorge Gardyn, chairman of the board of trustees, said the vote was tabled so his group could hear more from the campus community.


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Had the board approved the resolution, a new 16-member committee would have replaced one that disbanded in September after allegations of bias and failed efforts to advance either of two finalists to the state for approval. Had it made it onto the agenda and been approved by trustees, the committee would have been the start of the college's third attempt in four years to hire a permanent leader.

The resolution would have called for the next presidential search to be conducted by three NCC trustees, one former trustee and representatives from 12 campus groups. The campus organizations include the minority group ALANA, which unsuccessfully fought to be on the last search committee.

"We are trying to be as inclusive as possible," Gardyn said before the meeting. "But we can't make this search committee a panel of 50 people, because that's just not workable."

The chairman of the disbanded search committee, trustee Anthony Cornachio, said if ALANA has representation on the committee, then other smaller campus groups, such as groups representing women and Jewish faculty, should too. Cornachio said Tuesday before the meeting the process already lacks transparency.

"It seems like this has just been scripted by one or two board members. There's been no discussion [among the board] about who's going to be on this search committee. It doesn't seem like an open way to do things or a collegial way to do things," Cornachio said. "And historically, the chair has always been a member of the board of trustees."

The last presidential search was deemed "beyond the point of repair" by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher because of allegations of favoritism and impropriety. Zimpher, who has approval power over any president installed at the college, requested that NCC's trustees begin a new search with new committee members.

Over the summer, the board and the search committee defied her request and brought two candidates to campus for interviews. Trustees voted not to advance either of those candidates' names to SUNY.

The Garden City institution -- the largest single-campus community college in the SUNY system -- has been without stable leadership since the retirement of longtime president Sean Fanelli.

In 2009, the school hired Donald Astrab from Brevard Community College in Florida. Astrab was on the job for 30 months and got two votes of no-confidence from the faculty.

Trustees appointed Kenneth Saunders, a 13-year NCC administrator, as acting president after Astrab's departure. Saunders, who was a candidate for the president's job during the last search, said his interview was unfair and that committee members were biased.

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