Dr. Kenneth Saunders, Ph.D., is pictured during a Nassau Community...

Dr. Kenneth Saunders, Ph.D., is pictured during a Nassau Community College Board of Trustees meeting. (Oct. 10, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

State officials approved Nassau Community College trustees' appointment of Kenneth Saunders to the post of acting president, just as a national search for a permanent leader of the two-year institution is getting under way.

The change in Saunders' title, endorsed by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher last week, will give him a $10,000 raise, bringing his salary to $225,000, and allow him to live in the president's house on the Garden City campus.

Meanwhile, NCC trustees said they hope to have a new president by June. It is unclear whether Saunders will be a candidate.

"I want to wait until the position is formally advertised before stating my intentions as to whether I will apply for it or not," Saunders said.

Trustees have formed a 14-member search committee of stakeholders, including representatives of the college's three employee unions, student government and local community leaders, to select the president.

"We recognize how important this search is and we are moving quickly, but we want to make sure it is done right," said Geoffrey Prime, trustee chairman. "We are moving methodically but firmly forward."

Five firms specializing in higher education employment answered the college's request for proposals to vet applicants. The companies, located in New York City, Washington, D.C., Illinois and Florida, submitted bids ranging from $70,000 to $130,000.

A group of NCC trustees is charged with choosing a firm. Any signed agreement must go to Nassau County's attorneys for review and approval, college officials said.

Saunders, 55, of Freeport, has been the college's officer-in-charge since August, after president Donald Astrab was removed following two votes of no confidence by the faculty during his 30 months on the job.

Debra DeSanto, president of the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers, the college's full-time faculty union, spoke positively this week of Saunders.

"We are looking forward to working with him to move the college forward," said DeSanto, who is on the presidential search panel. The committee is scheduled to meet Monday for the first time.

Saunders has a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked at NCC for 13 years. His appointment lasts for one year or until a permanent president takes over.

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