The president of Nassau Community College resigned Friday, three days after faculty leaders submitted a "letter of discontent" to the school's Board of Trustees requesting his removal.
Jermaine Williams, president since July 2019, will become the president of Montgomery College in Maryland, also a community college.
Williams' time with the Nassau County college was marked with difficulty between himself and the faculty, said Faren Siminoff, president of the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers.
"He was not a very responsive person. We spoke, but he didn't hear," Siminoff said in an interview.
The faculty leaders sent the letter to the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, asserting that, "The student leaders, faculty and staff have lost faith and trust in the college president. … We call for his immediate removal as Nassau Community College President."
The letter added, "Our constituents report that morale across campus is at the lowest point in decades."
Attempts to reach Williams on Friday were unsuccessful.
The letter was signed by Siminoff; Stefan Krompier, president of the adjunct faculty union; Noreen Lowey, chairwoman of the group of department chairs; and Liz Hynes-Musnisky, chairwoman of the Academic Senate.
The college's Board of Trustees issued a statement praising Williams' tenure at the school, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"During his time at the college, Dr. Jermaine F. Williams has proven his dedication to advance student access, completion and post-completion success," said the trustees. "Through a pandemic, Dr. Williams led the college with tenacity, continuing to provide a high-quality education and excellent support services to all students."
The three-page letter said Williams' administration failed to correct health and safety issues such as mold infestation, air quality and unsafe passageways. It cited a textbook policy that left students without textbooks for weeks during the fall 2020 semester. And it questioned the administration's spending of millions of dollars in COVID/Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund money.
School officials responded that the college is in compliance on the spending of the COVID/Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund money.
Siminoff, a history professor who leads a union of about 470 full-time instructors, said the school has fallen far from its best days.
Nassau Community College saw a drop of 16.7% in enrollment from fall 2019 to fall 2020, according to records from the State University of New York.
Over the past decade, Nassau's enrollment dropped by about 10,000 students, a whopping 42% decline — from 23,767 in fall 2010 to 13,864 in fall 2020, according to SUNY records.
College spokeswoman Lindsey Angioletti acknowledged in a statement that discontent exists at the college, and said the school endeavors to work together as a community to provide students with a high-quality education.
"We are aware of some discontent within our college community and are actively working together to mitigate the situation so we can move forward in the best interests of students, faculty, staff and the communities we serve," Angioletti said.
She said the Board of Trustees will meet to decide on an interim president.
Krompier, who represents 1,750 adjunct instructors, said, "There was a great amount of dissatisfaction, and the buck stops on the president's desk."
The new appointment of Williams, who has 20 years of experience in higher education, as the president at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, was announced Friday by that school. He is slated to start in the first quarter of 2022.
"Dr. Williams’ work in higher education has focused his energies on improving access for students, as well as retention and graduation," said Michael J. Knapp, the chair of Montgomery College’s Board of Trustees.
Williams, in a statement from Montgomery College, said, "Montgomery College has long been a leader among community colleges nationally and I am excited to be joining the ranks at this time of change and great urgency."
Siminoff said she is looking with hope to the future.
"We hope to get a new president who will have a genuine vision for the college," she said.