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Board of Trustees issues statement of support of president, administration; fails to reach agreement with Faculty Association

DATE: 05-20-2013

During a special meeting of the Cayuga Community College Board of Trustees, the board issued a statement in support of College President Daniel P. Larson and the administration. The board also issued a statement that said it was unable to reach an agreement with the Faculty Association to help address the financial situation facing the College.

“The Board of Trustees supports the College President and the Administration as they move forward to define solutions for the enrollment and budget issues,” said Board Chairman John Camardo, on behalf of the board. “We will fully review the current financial situation to better understand the issues and address them. We remain focused on ways to increase our enrollment and our funding revenue to meet our expenses and to ensure our future … We are confident that the quality of our education and our programs will be maintained as we work through these challenges.” 

Over the past few months, the College has been working to reduce expenditures of its $32.36 million operating budget by approximately $1.5 million before the end of the fiscal year on August 31, 2013, to help make up for an unexpected 5 percent enrollment decrease, student retention issues, stagnant state aid and local funding, and increased fixed costs. Last fall, senior leaders and budget managers identified more than $778,000 in savings through employee retirements, operating budget reductions, cuts to travel, and reductions in part-time employee hours. Earlier this spring, managerial and confidential employees, executive staff, and the president accepted furlough days and helped bring budgetary savings over the $817,000 mark.

Last week, the College reached and signed agreements with three of the bargaining units at the College. The three bargaining units—Maintenance and Custodial Group, Educational Support Professionals, and the Administrative Professionals Group—agreed to accept unpaid furlough days, ranging in numbers from two to 10 days, based on bargaining units and salary levels. Those employees have begun taking their furlough days.

Last week, the board directed the College president to finalize the agreement with the Faculty Association.

“We thought we had a possible Memorandum of Agreement with them, but there was disagreement as to terms,” the board said in a written statement. “It is now clear that the parties have not and cannot reach an agreement. We therefore will be pursuing financial relief through other means to address our budget shortfall. That includes redoubling our efforts to seek a loan, restructuring how we deliver services, and right-sizing our staffing.”

In his statement, College President Daniel P. Larson provides some context for the issues facing the College as well as his rationale for pursuing the course of action that the College has taken under his leadership.

“One primary responsibility of my leadership trust during these years has been to ensure that the College is viable, engaging, and stimulating for our employees, our students, and the region we serve,” he said. “I appreciate the support of the Board of Trustees and will continue to work under their direction … Although I understand the frustration of the faculty and staff with the difficult situation facing the College, I am confident that the College community – faculty, staff, and students – will work as partners to achieve these goals.”

 

The Board’s complete statement in response to the vote of no confidence is as follows:

“The Board of Trustees has received No Confidence statements from some of the unions representing certain groups of College employees.  The Board of Trustees supports the College President and the Administration as they move forward to define solutions for the enrollment and budget issues.  We will fully review the current financial situation to better understand the issues and address them.  We remain focused on ways to increase our enrollment and our funding revenue to meet our expenses and to ensure our future.  The Board encourages the entire College community – faculty and staff – to participate collaboratively in finding those solutions that will ensure Cayuga Community College can build upon its distinguished 60-year history of providing excellent programs and services to students and to the region it serves.  We are confident that the quality of our education and our programs will be maintained as we work through these challenges.”

The Board’s complete statement in response to the status of the Faculty Association Memorandum of Agreement is as follows:

“We are unable to reach an agreement with the faculty association to help address the financial situation.  We thought we had a possible Memorandum of Agreement with them, but there was disagreement as to terms.  We discussed the terms of this Memorandum of Agreement this week with the Faculty Association, and it is now clear that the parties have not and cannot reach an agreement.  We therefore will be pursuing financial relief through other means to address our budget shortfall.  That includes redoubling our efforts to seek a loan, restructuring how we deliver services, and right-sizing our staffing.  We are committed to addressing the situation and ensuring the future of the College.  We very much appreciate the sacrifice of our other college employees, with whom we have reached agreements to help address our situation.”

College President Dr. Daniel P. Larson’s comments in response to the vote of no confidence:

“These have been challenging, stressful times for the College community as the Board, the Administration, and I have worked through the immediate budget issues for this fiscal year.  It is important to put the situation in context as we discuss our actions and our options to address this difficult situation.

In recent years, the College had experienced positive enrollment growth – a 23% increase in FTEs in 2009-10 and 2010-11 – due in significant part to our Broadway campus in Fulton and the lack of job opportunities associated with the recent recession (enrollment typically is inversely tied to the economy for community colleges). During those same years, our public funding experienced severe cuts, as did many other institutions in New York State. Cuts in public funding mount up to more than $7 million for the College. Over this period, our enrollment growth and the resulting tuition revenue – as well as federal stimulus dollars – allowed the College to support its budgetary requirements. This year, enrollment did not reach projected levels due to several factors, among them the changes in federal financial aid rules, lower than projected student numbers in Fulton, and a decline in overall enrollment due to the improving economy. These factors created a budget gap for this fiscal year – $1.5 million – which we have been working diligently to address. So far, we have closed the gap by more than $1.1 million.

Student enrollment and retention are primary issues that the College must continue to embrace and address. As well, we continue to work under state funding cuts from a few years ago, with a cumulative negative impact today on the College budget of more than $7 million. Given our increasing dependence now upon student enrollment and associated tuition revenue – student tuition generates 48% of College operating revenue this year – the College budget for next year must be pragmatic and conservative.  We are aggressively pursuing cost efficiencies and cost-conscious solutions. With more than 75% of the College budget expended for employee wage and benefit costs, there are limits to how far the remainder can be stretched. 

I have shared with the College community our need to accomplish projects that will help change and strengthen the institution in order to cope with declining numbers of high school students and stagnant public funding. The College recently developed and is implementing initial recommendations from its first retention report and is starting to address the underlying issues to help keep students enrolled and complete their academic programs.

Six years ago, as I was appointed President, the College was poised for major steps forward.   Since that time, the engagement of the College community has been extraordinary.  It is clear that the College must pursue new groups, new populations, to survive while maintaining current ones.  With these opportunities, we are building successfully upon existing programs at the College and exploring new ones.  One primary responsibility of my leadership trust during these years has been to ensure that the College is viable, engaging, and stimulating for our employees, our students, and the region we serve.

I appreciate the support of the Board of Trustees and will continue to work under their direction.  I express full faith in and support for my executive staff – they are excellent partners in this academic enterprise.  They not only provide immediate and strategic advice and counsel about the College and their own departments but also help to implement those programs and services that deliver the mission of the College to our students and the region we serve.  I look forward to our continuing work together.  Although I understand the frustration of the faculty and staff with the difficult situation facing the College, I am confident that the College community – faculty, staff, and students – will work as partners to achieve these goals.”