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Presidential Speeches

2009-10 Budget Remarks to the Rensselaer County Legislature

Dr. Andrew J. Matonak
President, Hudson Valley Community College
Tuesday, July 14, 2009


  • Mr. Chairman and members of the Legislature, thank you very much for this opportunity to visit with you to summarize our budget request and to update you on the past year’s activities at Hudson Valley Community College.

  • In New York, there is a community college that serves every county in the state. Our geographic distribution, coupled with low cost and community-focused programs, make community colleges the best economic and workforce development tool New York State has.

  • Hudson Valley Community College is this community’s college, and it is here, more so than in any other place, where the foundation of our community’s future will be secured.

  • Particularly during difficult economic times, this community and our students need Hudson Valley Community College now more than ever. Whether they transfer on to a four-year institution or need to be retrained because they just lost their job – we need to have the ability to serve them.

  • Last fall, we experienced the highest enrollment in the history of the college – 12,787 students. And we are headed for another record year – enrollment is well on its way to being 6 percent higher than fall 2008. Currently, our applications for enrollment have increased by 12 percent.

  • In May, we held our 55th commencement with 1,764 graduates. Members of the Class of 2009 ranged in age from 17 to 63. In addition, the college graduated its first class in the following degree programs: Criminal Investigation, Invasive Cardiovascular Technology and Gallery Management.

  • This past June, Hudson Valley Community College was ranked 50 among the nation\'s top 100 associate degree producers in all disciplines, according to the special annual report published by Community College Week.

  • Each year, more than 40 percent of Hudson Valley Community College graduates continue their education at a four-year college or university. One example is the new transfer agreement with Cornell University. Hudson Valley signed a general transfer agreement with Cornell that paves the way for qualified graduates to enter Cornell as juniors.

  • The agreement includes degrees as diverse as Atmospheric Science, Communication, Food Science and Developmental Sociology.

  • This spring, eight faculty and staff members were named recipients of the prestigious SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for 2009. Instituted in 1972, the Chancellor’s Award recognizes exceptional contributions to the university by dedicated professionals. Since its inception, nearly 100 faculty and staff members from Hudson Valley have received the Chancellor\'s Award.

  • Overall, our athletic teams had a very successful year. Specifically, the men’s basketball team was ranked as high as number one in the country. The team captured its second straight Mountain Valley Conference championship, and received the number one seed in the Region III Tournament. Head Coach Andre Cook was selected Region III and Mountain Valley Coach of the Year.

  • As you well know, the college’s biggest issue is to build capacity so that we can serve students choosing to attend Hudson Valley. This spring we broke ground on two very exciting projects: a new parking garage and the College’s TEC-SMART facility.

  • The parking garage, when completed in August 2010, will hold approximately 800 cars. Three hundred spaces will be dedicated to faculty/ staff and the remaining will be used by students.

  • Hudson Valley’s TEC-SMART facility in Malta is expected to open in January and will feature classrooms and labs that will be used to train the area’s workforce in emerging technologies, including semiconductor manufacturing, alternative fuels, photovoltaic and other renewable programs.

  • The purpose of this facility is to serve the region, state and nation as the premiere resource for clean energy technologies and semiconductor manufacturing training and education. In doing so this will establish New York State as a national leader in meeting workforce demands integral to the quality of life in the 21st century.

  • It is estimated that TEC-SMART will train between 500 and 600 technicians in the next five to 10 years to keep pace with industry employment needs and will be a driving force in attracting green technology manufacturers to the Capital Region.

  • During the 2009-10 academic year the college will expand its academic offerings. Two new programs include:

    • A Biotechnology Certificate program, which is a one-year certificate program for those interested in developing or expanding a career as a laboratory technician in the medical research, pharmaceutical or biotechnology fields. It will provide specialized training in applied techniques of cell culture, immunology, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, biological imaging, and analytical cytology.

    • The new Theater Arts Associate’s degree program is designed to provide a foundation for those wishing to pursue a four-year degree in acting or other related theater arts. Transfer agreements are being finalized with several schools, including SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Fredonia and The Sage College of Albany, which will allow students to enter the transfer institution as a junior.

  • This year students also can look forward to an expanded athletic program. Building on the many successes our 14 teams have experienced over the years, two new sports have been added: women’s golf and men’s cross country. It is important that students have the opportunity to experience a well-rounded collegiate experience – and participating in sports can add to that.

  • Those are just a few of the initiatives that will take place in the upcoming year. Now I’d like to review some of the items covered in the 2009-10 budget request.

  • This budget was not developed in a vacuum. Our faculty and staff have analyzed trends in the marketplace and academia and sought insight and expertise from those who serve on our advisory committees, all toward the ultimate goal of creating a budget that allows this college to continue a tradition of providing high-quality education at an affordable cost – for both students and taxpayers.

  • The 2009-2010 proposed operating budget for Hudson Valley Community College totals $99,237,366 and projects an enrollment of 9,375 full-time equivalent students.

  • This budget does not include an increase in base state operating aid and does not include additional funding from you. State aid to community colleges remains at $2,675 per FTE for the third consecutive year and the sponsor contribution would remain at $3.1 million for the tenth consecutive year. It is important to note that enrollment has increased 35% over that same period.

  • However, with no increase in funding at both the state and county level, coupled with a surge in enrollment, it is necessary to increase tuition by $200 this academic year. The recommended rate for in-state tuition is $3,100 annually. Even with the increase, Hudson Valley’s tuition rate continues to be one of the lowest in the state of New York.

  • And access is key to our mission at Hudson Valley. The college’s Foundation manages more than 200 restricted funds and expects to provide approximately $905,000 in support to the college and its students during the 2009-10 fiscal year.

  • In addition to financial aid and scholarships the college has added to this budget $100,000 in needs based financial awards to assist our students. This allocation will help minimize the impact the tuition increase will have on many of our students who may not be eligible for as much in financial aid. This budget also contains nine new academic positions to meet enrollment increases.

  • As you know, office space and classroom space is at a premium on Hudson Valley’s campus. We have simply outgrown our facilities. Therefore, this budget includes funding to lease instructional and office space – 30,000 square feet – at the RPI Tech Park.

  • Not only are we outgrowing our facilities but the amount of students and visitors on campus is taking its toll on our aging infrastructure. It is expected that next year over 13,000 credit-bearing students, 6,700 non-credit students and more than 350,000 visitors will be on campus.

  • This amount of traffic is taking its toll on our campus. If we are going to continue to serve our students and the community, we must make the necessary improvements and updates to the facilities, parking lots and grounds.

  • Four of the five original buildings on campus built in the early1960s have undergone no new renovations or upgrades. In the fifth building, the renovations are already 10 years old. These buildings are old, dreary and not conducive to a learning environment.

  • Our academic buildings must have the technology and academic atmosphere that empowers our students to learn and thrive. I’m sure that you agree that our facilities should reflect what a progressive institution of higher learning should be.

  • There’s a lot of work to be done and just as some of these older facilities are updated, the newer buildings begin needing repairs. Consequently, it is necessary for capital maintenance projects to be included in our operating budget.

  • Funding for preventative maintenance projects has been included in this budget because of our aging facilities. A few of the projects needing attention are:

    • Q-Lot Reconstruction – $1.3 million
      Q-lot was built in 1991. Over time the fill and sub-base has shifted, causing the pavement to fail and complete reconstruction is necessary for this 708-space student parking lot.

    • Campus Center Roof Replacement – $500,000
      The Campus Center is the hub of student activity and houses the cafeterias, student life activities offices, the bookstore, computer lab and public safety office. The clerestory roofs have never been replaced and are currently 34 years old.

    • Cogen Transformer Upgrade – $250,000
      As the campus electrical load continues to increase, the transformers at the plant are running over 100 percent capacity in the summer months. These transformers need to be upgraded.

  • You have heard me say this before. The 2006 Economic Impact Study showed that Hudson Valley Community College has almost a billion dollar economic impact on the entire Capital Region. In Rensselaer County alone, the college’s economic impact is $360 million.

  • As you can see, we have clearly made capacity building and maintaining our infrastructure a top priority. However, in subsequent years, if we are going to continue to be the economic engine that drives Rensselaer County, we will require additional operating financial support. It is critical to our ability to serve Rensselaer County and your constituents.


  • Hudson Valley Community College’s work reaches across all socio-economic levels. Our stellar academic reputation is due in large part to the hard work of our faculty and staff. This budget will allow us to maintain the college’s distinguished reputation for academic excellence and outstanding service to the community.

  • We are proud that Rensselaer County is our sponsor – and you should be proud of this institution, which has had such a tremendous impact on you, your families, and the lives of your constituents.

  • In addition to Chairman Neil Kelleher, I would like to thank all of you who play an integral role in ensuring the college meets its mission and maintains its fiscal strength.

    • In particular, Michael Picarillo, chair of the Education Committee, and his committee members, including Jim Brearton, who also serves on the college’s Board of Trustees, and Hudson Valley alumnus Peter Grimm.

    • Rich Salisbury, chair of the Finance Committee and his committee members.

    • And last but certainly not least, I thank County Executive Kathy Jimino and her talented staff. I know that we have strong advocates in both this legislative and executive branch of county government, and we do appreciate your leadership.

  • With your collective support and confidence, Hudson Valley will continue to be the gem of Rensselaer County and the primary driver of the Rensselaer County economy.

  • We are truly this community’s college and I thank you for your partnership in serving this community so well.

  • I would be happy to answer your questions.