Mineola, NY- Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released a report today that found the graduation and transfer rate at Nassau Community College (NCC) dropped by more than a third from 2009 to 2012 to 28%, causing NCC to be ranked 31st out of 35 NYS community colleges. A significant finding shows that the dramatic decline coincides with a period of administrative turmoil at the College. Based on this finding, Comptroller Maragos recommends a permanent president be named as soon as possible. NCC is funded primarily through student tuition, state aid, and Nassau County taxpayer money, receiving more than $52 million from the County in 2012.
“The steep decline in graduations and transfers at NCC should be of concern to every taxpayer in Nassau County and to the 23,000 students who enroll at NCC hoping to receive a quality college education at a reasonable price,” said Comptroller George Maragos. “NCC has obviously lost its way and is failing our students. It went from one of the best community colleges to one of the worst. This is unacceptable and must change.”
Historically, NCC has provided high quality, affordable education, serving as an essential alternative to costly private colleges and universities for many Nassau residents. Community college performance is typically assessed in terms of three year graduation and transfer rates, which track the percentage of first-time, full-time students that complete their degrees or transfer to other programs within three years, one and a half times the normal time to degree. The Comptroller’s review found NCC’s graduation and transfer rate fell to 23% in 2011, rebounding slightly to 28% in 2012 (see graphic below). In contrast, NCC graduated or transferred 45% of students as recently as 2009, and ranked 9th best among New York State community colleges as recently as 2005.
The decline in NCC’s performance appears to have occurred during a period of prolonged administrative turmoil following 26 years of stable management at the College. President Donald Astrab assumed the presidency of NCC after long-serving President Sean Fanelli retired in January 2010. Ongoing conflict with the NCC faculty led to Astrab’s early departure in July 2012. There has been no permanent president at the College since Astrab’s departure. Dr. Kenneth Saunders was appointed Acting Officer-in-Charge of the College in July 2012 and Acting President of the College in January 2013. The decline in student performance precedes Dr. Sanders’ tenure. There is no published data during his tenure. “NCC has gone too long without a permanent president with authority and support from the Board of Trustees, to the obvious detriment of thousands of students,” said Comptroller George Maragos. “The appointment of Dr. Saunders or another highly qualified individual to permanent president is long overdue. It is time to restore NCC to being one of the best community colleges in New York.”