Faculty seek to protect Dowling reputation

Dowling College's Rudolph Campus in Oakdale. (Sept. 27, Dowling College's Rudolph Campus in Oakdale. (Sept. 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Chris Ware

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Two longtime members of Dowling College's faculty, worried about the school's reputation, vowed Friday to help turn it around and sought to allay students' fears after president Jeremy Brown was asked to leave this week.

Nathalia Rogers, executive chairwoman of the full-time faculty and associate professor of sociology, said she and her colleagues "don't want the students to panic."

She refused to comment directly on Brown's removal but said the faculty is worried about Dowling's public image.

"They do not want the students to be so upset about this and think the college is closing, when the college is nowhere near closing," Rogers said.

Dowling's board of trustees said in an announcement Thursday that they are negotiating the terms of Brown's departure.

Brown, the college's fourth president in six years, took the post June 1, 2011, amid a fiscal crisis and steadily declining enrollment.

In addition to Brown, five staff members -- three of whom worked in the marketing and communications department -- were let go this week, sources close to the situation said.

A spokeswoman for Syntax, a public relations firm hired by Dowling, said she had no comment Friday on the college's personnel matters and there were no updates on the negotiations with Brown.

The school will announce an interim president when the decision is final, spokeswoman Marissa Sanseverino said.

A faculty meeting scheduled for Wednesday will be the first formal gathering of the college's professors following Brown's removal.

"Administrators and staff come and go, but the faculty are the heart and soul of the college," said Susanne Bleiberg Seperson, chairwoman of the sociology department, who has been at the school for more than 40 years. "It is really time for us to step up in a very strong and reasonable way."

The private liberal arts school, with a main campus that includes a mansion on the banks of the Connetquot River, ran a budget deficit of $977,000 in 2011 and is almost $60 million in debt, school officials acknowledged in a Newsday story earlier this month.

Scott Rudolph, one of the school's benefactors and founder of Piping Rock Health Products LLC, served as interim president before Brown's appointment.

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