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NCC trustees set special meeting to discuss college's leadership

Kenneth Saunders speaks during the Nassau Community College

Kenneth Saunders speaks during the Nassau Community College Board of Trustees meeting in Garden City Tuesday, January 28, 2014. Credit: Barry Sloan

Nassau Community College trustees have scheduled a special meeting on July 23 to decide how to handle a state-recommended resolution that puts a time limit on its current acting president.

Officials at the 23,000-student school have been looking for a permanent president for nearly three years.

State University of New York officials, in an effort to encourage college trustees to take action on selecting a president, set a 60-day limit for Kenneth Saunders to remain acting president.

The trustees have several options: They could ignore the state's recommendation, select an interim president or take a revote on a permanent president from the existing pool of finalists, longtime board member Anthony Cornachio said Monday.

"We have to do something, it seems to me," said Cornachio, a Garden City lawyer who was among the trustees to call the meeting. "I don't think we should wait until September."

The college's 10-member board of trustees usually does not meet during the summer. The special meeting will be held on the 11th floor of the Administrative Tower on the campus.

Saunders, 58, has led the college since the abrupt departure of former President Donald Astrab in July 2012 after less than three years in the position and two votes of no confidence by the Faculty Senate. Astrab's annual salary was $230,000.

Since Astrab's departure, NCC has conducted two presidential searches, neither of which resulted in the appointment of a permanent president.

NCC is the largest single-campus, two-year community college in the SUNY system. While SUNY officials do not have the power to appoint a president for the school, anyone selected by NCC trustees to be president must gain the final approval of state university Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and the SUNY board of trustees.

Saunders, whose annual salary as acting president is $225,000, has been a candidate in both searches, and was a finalist in the most recent one. He told Newsday in 2013 that some members of a 12-member committee handling the first presidential search held a bias against him, but would not give specifics regarding that description.

Zimpher called on NCC trustees to redo the first search because of allegations of bias. In the second search, none of the finalists got a majority trustee vote.


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