President’s Report June 2020
Dear College Community,
I hope this email meets you in good health and spirits, and that you are relaxing and reconnecting with friends and loved ones. Thank you all for tuning into our Countdown to the Graduate Salute, Graduate Salute, and annual student achievement ceremonies. I am grateful for the faculty who serve as teachers and mentors throughout our students’ journeys, and for messages of inspirations by our esteemed Alumna and CUNY Board of Trustee member Sandra Wilkins; our one-time student and international superstar Chris Rock and all the elected officials that continue to support KCC. In June, we also celebrated Pride Month! Thanks to all those who lent their voices to a time to honor the movement, and our LGBTQ+ friends, colleagues, loved ones and allies. June also saw historic recognition and celebration of Juneteeth across the country, and in many of our households.
In the midst of our celebrations, I pause to reflect on a semester like none we have ever had before, or want to experience again. We have come a long way since March. As a community, we persevered under unbelievable conditions. And although we pivoted into a remote environment, we remained grounded in our commitment to students. We managed to flatten the curve, but lost friends and loved ones along the way. We became accustomed to a new way of life characterized by social distancing and masks, budget uncertainties, as well as questions about reopening and teaching/learning modalities for the fall. I share your ever-present concerns about health, safety and job security and fully understand your growing frustrations. We are fast approaching the beginning of a new academic year, yet in many ways, things seem to be going at a snail’s pace. To date, we have no decision about the teaching/learning modality for the fall. The decisions that need to be made are not easy ones, and they are predicated on numerous factors and entities. For many of us, these frustrations are exacerbated by the tense local and national climate, and discourse around race, justice and equity.
We have never been at this place before, so we are working mindfully and diligently to address these issues as they affect us at Kingsborough. This fall, we 2 will continue to expand our Achieving The Dream (ATD) driven Equity Agenda using it as a framework to close the achievement gap for students of color, improve student outcomes, and enhance the work that we do to help students reach their academic goals, and how we do this work as a community.
As a Leader College of Distinction within the ATD network, KCC is committed to addressing the persistent inequities that have historically impacted the most underserved members or our community. The Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic have created a more pressing need for our institution to examine structural barriers, policies and practices, and our overall campus culture. The equity work that the ATD committees have conducted in the past five years has laid the groundwork for our campus to collectively develop a plan of action that directly addresses the enduring systemic characteristics of our campus culture that have allowed inequitable outcomes to persevere.
The ATD Loss Momentum framework has been the basis for our exploration of disaggregated data and our understanding of inequities in the student experience. Our current situation demands that we turn this understanding into action. This coming academic year, we will continue the conversation, and engage in intentional actions that will help shape our way forward as we build a campus community that is committed to racial equity, and social justice.
In 2019, the College defined a set of values (Respect, Diversity, Integrity, Excellence Accountability and Innovation) that expressed our beliefs as a community. In addition, during the Spring 2020 Convocation, the Climate Committee surveyed attendees asking what kind of community they wanted to see at KCC. Although the COVID-19 Pandemic affected their plans for using students to analyze the data and develop a report, we are moving forward to develop a report on the feedback collected. My hope is that we will be able to share the report in the early fall.
As you may know, we have formed a KCC Forward Committee chaired by Tasheka Sutton Young and Ryan McKinney, and constituted by numerous faculty 3 and staff members to further consider all aspects of a transition back to campus. The committee awaits guidelines established by the University to which we will be required to align with our own plans. The work of the Forward Committee is intense and expansive, as they are considering, discussing and planning for every aspect of a potential return (full or partial, and for faculty, staff and students). The KCC plan will be forthcoming. In the interim, please continue to adhere to the protocols already in place for on campus visits.
Masks are required to enter the campus (a mask will be provided if you do not have one)
There are a series of questions that public safety will ask you upon arrival on campus, and
In compliance with New York State’s COVID-19 Return to Work Guidance, a mandatory daily health screening temperature check will be conducted. Screenings will be completed quickly and with a no-touch thermometer. The Office of Public Safety has designated its Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and its supervisors to conduct the screenings at the main entrance of the College. Please note that an individual whose temperature is greater than or equal to “100.0 degrees Fahrenheit” will be denied access to the college campus.
Colleagues, these unprecedented times call for uncompromising approaches to ensure the health and safety of all KCC employees. I look forward to your cooperation with the abovementioned screening protocols.
Regarding the budget, we are still awaiting a final budget for the coming year. In the interim, the University has provided the campuses with one twelfth (1/12) of the operating budget for July, the allocation covers personnel, OTPS and mandatory needs. The balance of our allocation is predicated on city & state funding to CUNY, and will be allocated accordingly. State allocations are predicated on federal funding which will help determine the complete University budget.
My understanding is that there is a petition to save the KCC Urban Farm circulating on social media. I encourage and welcome advocacy based on accurate information, and I especially appreciate the effort put into garnering positive attention for the KCC Urban Farm. Indeed, it is something I have done from as early as the day I interviewed on campus. I had a short window of time to tour the campus and requested that I see two places: the Child Development Center and the Urban Farm. My support of the beautiful quarter-acre Farm has not waivered. I take every opportunity to walk elected officials and other visitors over to the farm to provide both exposure and the potential for the investment of resources. I took joy in ensuring that the KCC Urban Farm had new signage erected, and in highlighting my many visits and my weekly basket of produce on my Twitter page. In January 2020, a full-time line was approved, but tabled because of issues with the hiring line/title. Unfortunately, the onset of the pandemic and its continued aftermath has significantly impacted the budget as well as hiring plans for all lines at the College.
Currently, there are seven (7) staff members working at the Farm (1 full-time Senior CLT, 2 adjunct CLTs, and four (4) Student Aides. The Division continues to explore opportunities to supplement the staff with student interns who can provide more support for the Farm. I sincerely hope that staffing will remain as it is during this time; but that, like everything else, cannot be guaranteed. As you may know, there are many faculty positions that are on hold. In addition, hiring plans for a Title IX Coordinator are tabled even in the face of significant and recent changes to the Title IX legislation, and our plans to hire an Assessment Director, which we are in dire need of as we look toward Middle States reaccreditation of our College, is also tabled. While our adjuncts have not been affected the way adjuncts at other campuses have been, our fiscal future is still uncertain.
I anticipate that once the University has a better sense of what we will face in the next fiscal year, there will be more discussions about what actions need to take place, and I will prioritize the needs of the College accordingly.
I received a number of emails regarding the email that was sent last week about Executive Compensation Plan (ECP) staff salaries. It is important to note that CUNY is a public university. As such, salary information for all employees is public information. I know that receiving this kind of information and receiving in this manner was upsetting to some. That was unfortunate, but I do want to use this opportunity to provide necessary clarification, as what was shared was misinterpreted and inaccurate.
Note the following:
ECP employees at community colleges within CUNY must fall within a specific salary range as determined by the Board of Trustees (see below). Currently, all ECP positions at Kingsborough Community College fall within the designated salary range.
Salary Ranges effective June 26, 2012
Salary Ranges effective July 1, 2017
President-$134,910 - $313,650
Senior Vice President-$117,354 - $260,400
Vice President-$102,297 - $226,800 Dean/Administrator/Assistant Vice President-$88,721 - $198,000
Associate Dean/Associate Administrator- $77,121 - $171,255
Assistant Dean/Assistant Administrator- $67,089 - $152,615
President-$147,605 - $340,028
Senior Vice President-$128,397 - $282,300
Vice President-$111,923 - $245,874 Dean/Administrator/Assistant Vice President-$97,957 - $216,632
Associate Dean/Associate Administrator- $85,149 - $187,370
Assistant Dean/Assistant Administrator- $74,073 - $166,976
STEP increases for CUNY employees are not tied to enrollment. As you are aware, PSC faculty and staff receive annual STEP increases regardless of whether enrollment at KCC has increased or decreased.
ECP staff do not receive annual STEP increases nor retroactive compensation. The last ECP increase was in 2017 (and before that 2009) when the CUNY Board of Trustees voted to increase ECP salaries across CUNY ranging from 1% to 9% based on the recommendation by the College President to the CUNY Chancellor.
For the past two years, the College enacted budget cuts that included vacancies of several positions under the Executive Compensation Plan. The ECP positions that remain vacant are: Dean of Faculty, Assistant Vice President for Campus Facilities, and the Vice President of College Advancement. Further, other ECP positions remained vacant from the separation of the prior incumbent to the effective date of the current incumbent. You may recall, neither a VP for Enrollment Management or Workforce were hired until the prior incumbent was fully separated. In addition, there is currently one VP who is currently functioning in two roles. Because of these decisions not to fill and/or delay certain ECP positions, savings through the Fiscal Year 2020 is $845,719 and the annual savings starting the Fiscal Year 2021 is projected to be $460,174.
I am grateful for Dr. Sutton-Young and her ability to wear two hats. She has done an outstanding job these past few months in her role as Interim VP of Advancement, while continuing to serve as an incredible Executive Chief of Staff. Provost Russell and I are in the midst of exploring approaches to addressing gaps caused by the departure of the Dean of Faculty. Academic Affairs has always had a lot on its plate, but looking back on these past few months and looking ahead to the new academic year, not only doesn’t their work get any lighter, but it will take on more prominence. The Provost continues to be a staunch advocate for the faculty and faculty hiring needs. The Advancement staff is working in concert with everyone they can to pursue, and successfully secure external grants to support students, faculty and special projects. The KCC Foundation, committed alumni, faculty and staff have been generous in their support of the College and our students.
I have even taken to going out every week to welcome students to the College, not only because I enjoy meeting students, but with the hopes that it might attract more students to the College. Our Enrollment Management team is working every angle to recruit and enroll students. Currently our enrollment for Summer 2020 is slightly ahead of Summer 2019. This is a good omen especially since we are behind where we were last year with regard to fall enrollment. As one can imagine, we are not the only ones being affected in this way. Many of our sister institutions share enrollment concerns. When I mention Enrollment, we reflexively think about VP Johana Rivera and her team, but the reality is, as I have said before, this is a responsibility that we all bear. Promoting the positive at KCC not only draws monetary investments in terms of grants, but it draws potential students. Similarly, excellent learning and customer service experiences keep students coming back. Advisement academies are doing their part by reaching out to our continuing students; the Division of Communications and Marketing has new ads across the internet, and are working to make improvements to our website; and as I indicated, the Forward Committee is working hard to get us ready for an uncertain future by developing a transition plan. The senior team and I are also actively discussing (given the potential strain on resources), how we can address critical needs, like program development, enrollment, assessment and other mandates like Title IX. And despite all this uncertainty, faculty are busy recharging and preparing for the next academic year. It takes a village. We are the village. And this is where we are.
I do not know what the future holds for ECP salaries or staff; whatever it may be, we intend on continuing to do our best to be a part of the village and help to steer and support the College through these difficult and turbulent times.
The effects of the pandemic are being felt in every corner of the city, throughout our College and in our lives. Many incoming freshmen are unsure; many of our continuing students are uneasy; and many of you are apprehensive about the future, a return campus and another semester of online teaching and remote working. Your feelings of anger and frustration are understandable. But despite how you might feel, I need you to know if you are on the side of the mission of our University, and our College; if you are on the side of helping students to make their dreams come true while ensuring the health and safety of everyone who calls KCC their academic home… then we are on the same side. Even in the face of the difficulties we are experiencing, we must continue to stay true to our values and our mission. Now more than ever, it is our collective responsibility to work through and beyond this time together. Know that even in these turbulent times, there is no place I would rather be and no other group of dedicated faculty and staff I’d rather be with. Thank you for all that you do.
As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have concerns about what is holding us back; or maybe an idea that will help us move forward.