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Ship Without A Rudder

Community college remains leaderless
as search for new president continues

The largest single-campus community college in the state of New York continues to go on without a permanent president as the school’s board of trustees held a special meeting addressing the issue on May 30 at 6 p.m. on the 11th floor of the Administration Tower.

The search began almost three weeks ago when now former head of the board of trustees, Geoffrey Prime resigned on May 11. Now acting president of the college Kenneth Saunders felt he was treated with hostility during his interview for the fulltime position and is not one of the finalists for the permanent position. The three finalists in the selection of the new president of Nassau Community College are president of Kennedy-King College, Joyce Ester, State Supreme Court Justice Anthony Marano and Dowling College Interim President Elana Zolfo.

An endorsement by State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and a vote by other SUNY trustees are still needed to make a new president at the college official.

The 560th meeting featured members of the board of trustees for Nassau Community College (NCC) including Secretary John P Donnely, Anthony Cornachio, John Degrace, Arnold W. Drucker and Edward W. Powers. Acting president Kenneth Saunders and Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline, Johanna Duncan-Poitier were also in attendance representing the State University of New York’s point of view of the matter.

“We are choosing to have this special meeting because we all share something very important in common,” said Duncan-Poitier. “That is the future of Nassau Community College.”

The senior vice chancellor spoke of decreasing morale of students at the community college due to the process, which many have seen as unfair due to “irregularities” that the chancellor and SUNY authorities have seen throughout the search committee’s process.

Cornachio became the first vocal member of the board of trustees to defend the search committee’s job stating “there were no irregularities on the search on the board.”

“The search committee did everything,” said Cornachio. “This was a job interview and we took it very seriously.”

In response to Saunder’s complaint that his interview went unfairly, Cornachio assured the senior vice chancellor and crowd that even the finalists for the position complained that the questions during their interview were tough. Cornachio defended himself and the board by stating that they needed to be tough during the interview to ensure they wouldn’t make a mistake again.

The four-year member of the board whose term ends in 2017 also explained that the committee represents all groups and sub groups of society so no foul play would have been likely. He also defended the board’s meeting days earlier where a student wanted to take part in the interview process but had class. While some thought this violated NCC code, the search committee agreed she had a decision to make and she didn’t make the decision to take part in it.

“Everyone deserves an opportunity to defend themselves,” said Cornachio. “We never had that opportunity.”

While the SUNY vice chancellor had agreed that the search committee put a strong effort into their jobs, she still stands by Chancellor’s Zimpher’s decision to restart the search after Prime’s resignation.

“The search was compromised,” Duncan-Poitier said. “It just was.”

Other members of the board of trustees worried that the reputation of the search committee was tarnished due to these allegations.

According to the Nassau Community College website, the board of trustees is seeking a “high committed, innovative and collaborate leader who will guide the college at this time of tremendous opportunity.” To share your views about what qualities should be present in the next candidate and the ongoing issue write the college at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .