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Editorial: SUNY rightly hits the reset button on NCC search

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher is directing Nassau

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher is directing Nassau Community College's governing board to scrap the current search for a new president and launch a new one after several weeks of allegations of favoritism and political infighting. Credit: Barry Sloan; AP

Good for Nancy Zimpher. The SUNY chancellor has taken aggressive steps to clean up the stinking mess made by the trustees of Nassau Community College in its search for a new president.

Zimpher yesterday ordered a do-over, and she set down very specific guidelines for how the trustees can get the process under control. In a pointed letter to Dr. Jorge Gardyn, the acting chairman of the board, the chancellor said open meeting laws must be honored and that a member of the new search team should be designated to take minutes of the proceedings so a fair process, allowing for the full participation of all search team members, could be documented. "In the spirit of restarting the search process," Zimpher dryly noted she was appointing a top SUNY lawyer as liaison to ensure compliance with all rules and laws.

And to finally end the circus, Zimpher excluded Anthony Cornachio, the trustee who was chairman of the failed search effort, from the new one. Cornachio caused quite a stir with his insensitive remarks about a college professor and student activist. The real damage by Cornachio, who has extensive ties to the Nassau County Republican Party, however, may have been the steering of a retired judge, who also has extensive GOP ties, onto the list of three finalists.

The college desperately needs a talented administrator who can calm the turmoil at the 24,000-student institution while making sure the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars spent on it aren't wasted in a patronage pit.