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Presidential Speeches

07/12/2005
2005-06 Budget Remarks to the: RENSSELAER COUNTY LEGISLATURE

by Dr. Andrew J. Matonak, President
Hudson Valley Community College
Tuesday, July 12, 2005

INTRODUCTION

  • Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this evening.
  • Any time you put a president in front of a microphone beware. Presidents tend to be long-winded. I edited my remarks from 1 hour and 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Then I trimmed it to 15 minutes. There are so many exciting things happening that I just don't have the time to cover all of them.
  • First, I would like to take a moment to thank the members of this Legislature, and County Executive Kathy Jimino, for the warm welcome I have received since assuming the presidency of Hudson Valley Community College in April.
  • It's an honor to have such strong partners who believe in the college's mission and the work we do every day to transform the lives of our students.
  • Your continued commitment allows our students to find their voice … discover their passion … and realize their dreams. I'd like to take a moment to tell you about one of those students, Jennifer Schroeder of Wynantskill.
  • Nearly 20 years ago, Jennifer put her dreams of college on hold when she became a full-time mother.
  • Well, five years ago, cancer threatened to change everything for her family: when Jennifer's husband was diagnosed with the disease, she began to worry about her family's future. In Jennifer's own words:
    • "I had realized that if anything ever happened to my husband that I would be left to raise our children on an income that was based on a high school diploma. Everything that my husband and I have worked so hard to achieve in order to beat the statistics and have a successful family would go down the tubes."
  • To prevent her fears from being realized, she enrolled at Hudson Valley Community College. In May, she graduated with honors.
  • Stories like Jennifer's – and hundreds of others – demonstrate how special Hudson Valley is. I am proud to lead an institution that is a true gem, and your ongoing support allows our college to shine.
  • Before I outline key budget highlights and our plans for 2005-06, I would like to update you on what's happening at the college and share with you some of the great things we accomplished during 2004-05.
  • This academic year, the college broke the 12,000-student mark for the first time in its 52-year history, enrolling 12,316 students in credit-bearing courses or programs. Another 14,000 people each year take advantage of the college's non-credit and workforce training.
  • We are now the fifth largest community college in the SUNY system – up two notches from our ranking of seventh last year.
  • Why are we experiencing such tremendous growth? We are accessible, affordable and offer a first-class education that doesn't leave students mired in debt. As the Troy Record stated in an editorial this past year:
    • "When affordability with no loss in quality becomes a critical point in shopping for a college, HVCC gets an A."
  • The strength of Hudson Valley's academic programs and transfer agreements allow our students to make the transition to a baccalaureate program easily – and save more than 40 percent on the cost of their four-year degree.
  • In addition, our newest scholarship program – the Presidential Honors Scholarship – has been extremely successful in allowing the college to attract 18 top students from area high schools, each with a SAT score of at least 1200 and a high school average of at least 90.
  • One of those scholars, Katie Wehnau of Averill Park is leaning toward studying engineering science. Her determination and drive will ensure her success at Hudson Valley and beyond. Here's a portion of her scholarship application:
    • "I have decided that no matter what I decide to study, I am the kind of person who will put my heart into it and work hard to get what I want because no matter how rough the road ahead, I am determined to make the best of it."
  • I'm thrilled that we could give students like Katie the opportunity to find her fortune – without spending one.
  • And, consider Monica Kilcer of Kinderhook, who enrolled at the college after attending three colleges previously. She wanted to simply take some general education classes that would transfer.
  • However, Monica, in fact, graduated in May with a Liberal Arts degree and will enter Johns Hopkins University this fall. To quote Monica:
    • "At Hudson Valley I have regained my footing on the path of personal success…. To have a degree in my hand after all the wandering and confusion brings a real sense of progress and accomplishment. I know that as I leave home again that HVCC has helped me make myself a better student and a more successful person."
  • Hudson Valley Community College is a place where the teaching and learning environment is dynamic and challenging, yet nurturing and caring.
    • … Where all students – whether they have great high school grades and stellar SAT scores or who have been told, like I was, that they weren't college material – can receive the guidance and support that allows them to succeed.

Now to the 2004-05 HIGHLIGHTS:

  • A chief reason for our tremendous growth is our faculty and staff's efforts to create innovative, new programs that meet the needs of students and employers. We developed the following programs during the 2004-05 academic year:
    • Students can now pursue two new areas of study – a Tourism, Convention and Event Management option in our Marketing program and a Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology program – that will prepare students for the Tech Valley jobs of tomorrow.
    • The college also offers a General Education Certificate, which allows students to meet the 10 competency areas that are required by all SUNY institutions.
    • Hudson Valley signed landmark articulation agreements with Excelsior College that will allow students enrolled in nine different "online" business and technology programs to earn up to three years of a four-year degree at Hudson Valley and then transfer seamlessly to Excelsior "online" to earn a baccalaureate degree.
    • And the fact that students can earn their third year of a four-year degree by staying at Hudson Valley is a testament to the quality, breadth and depth of our courses.
    • The college also signed two agreements with SUNY New Paltz that provide our graduates a seamless transfer into the junior year of New Paltz's Early Childhood and Childhood education programs.
    • And earlier this year, the college received the largest competitive federal grant in its history – a $1.85 million from the U.S. Department of Education's "Strengthening Institutions" program. Over the next five years, this grant will allow us to revolutionize the way our faculty teaches and how our students learn in three areas – computer networking, semiconductor manufacturing, and foreign language instruction.
  • As I said before, this would not be possible without the talent, dedication and commitment of our faculty and staff.

2005-06 BUDGET

  • Now, let's turn to the 2005-06 budget before you this evening. The budget, which totals $76.6 million, includes plans that will further enhance the quality of a Hudson Valley Community College education.
  • One of the hallmarks of Hudson Valley is that we are responsive to the communities we serve, and can quickly adapt our programs, curriculums and services to reflect the demands of the marketplace. Our new programs and academic initiatives for the 2005-06 academic year include the following:
    • As a leader in workforce development, the college has partnered with Price Chopper Supermarkets to develop an innovative program that will eventually lead to a college certificate in Supermarket Management and Operations exclusively for Price Chopper associates.
    • We are developing a new certificate program that will train photovoltaic (solar cell) installers. This new venture, funded through a $148,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, will ensure that our region has the skilled workforce necessary to support the growth of this new alternative-energy industry.
    • We are planning new certificate programs in two other growing fields, Health Information Technology and Computer Software Applications, and two new associate degrees in Human Services and Biological Sciences that will allow students to transfer seamlessly to baccalaureate programs.
  • As our student population grows and program offerings expand, so must our facilities and infrastructure. New facility and technology initiatives include the following:

    1. Renovation of the Siek Campus Center. This project is progressing nicely and will truly transform the heart of our campus. The second floor will be completed and occupied by mid-August, while construction on the first floor is scheduled to be completed by the Spring of 2006.

    2. An addition to Hudson Hall will accommodate our growing Fine Arts program, which has seen its enrollment more than double since its inception five years ago. That project will begin in September, and be complete by Summer of 2006.

    3. Construction of our new $8.4 million administrative/classroom building. Thanks to the support of this Legislature, we hope to break ground in October, and look forward to having this new space available by the Spring 2007 semester.

    4. Installation of 200 additional student computers in classrooms and labs and the purchase of new, and replacement equipment, to serve the needs of our students.

  • Expansion of the campus' wireless network.

  • Now, I'd like to share with you highlights of our 2005-06 budget.
  • This budget anticipates that we will achieve 9,016 full-time equivalent students, the most ever in the college's history. As our student body grows, so does the demand on our resources, which is why this budget includes a modest tuition increase of $100 annually, to $2,700 a year.
  • Even with this increase, our tuition still remains the third lowest among community colleges in the state.
  • The good news is that this budget, thanks to the actions of the state Legislature, takes into account an increase in our base state aid. We will receive $2,350 per FTE for the 2005-06 academic year – $115 more than last year. While that is a significant increase, it is only $50 more than we received for 2003-04.
  • No sponsor increase is being requested. It remains at $3.1 million for the sixth consecutive year. We are able to accomplish this through a combination of record enrollment, an increase in both facility rental income and interest income, and most importantly, prudent management of our resources.
  • There is no doubt that your investment in Hudson Valley Community College benefits our students. Now consider the positive impact the college has on our community:
    • According to the most recent study by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, the college has a $343 million economic impact on Rensselaer County. Think about that for a moment: a $3.1 million investment results in a $343 million return. That's a tremendous bang for your buck – and a wise investment strategy that will continue to pay dividends today, tomorrow and in the future.
  • The impact our alumni have on the region is just as impressive. In May, we graduated 1,634 students, our largest graduating class since 1999. More than 60,000 people – 80 percent of whom live in the Capital Region – call Hudson Valley their alma mater.
    • An image from Graduation still sticks with me – maybe those legislators who attended Commencement will remember it:
    • During my remarks, I asked this year's graduates – and all alumni in attendance – to stand. When I looked out upon the crowd of more than 4,000 people, the majority of them were on their feet. That's a powerful illustration of our impact.
  • It's nice to know that four-year institutions haven't cornered the "legacy" market – and it's also great to know that with your continued support, Hudson Valley Community College will be here to serve our children, grandchildren, and yes, even our great-grandchildren.

CONCLUSION

  • We are proud that this budget will allow us to provide continued access to an affordable, high-quality education for our current and future students – and the infrastructure necessary to ensure that Hudson Valley will continue to maintain its distinguished reputation for academic excellence.
  • We also are very proud to have Rensselaer County as our sponsor. In order to maintain and extend the college's accomplishments, we need your continued confidence and support.
  • In addition to Neil Kelleher – a Hudson Valley alumnus and chairman of this Legislature – I would like to thank the following legislators, each of whom plays an integral role in ensuring the college maintains its fiscal strength:
    • Nancy McHugh, chair of the Education Committee.
    • Jim Brearton, who is also a member of the college's Board of Trustees, and
    • Margaret Van Deusen, chair of the Finance Committee.
    • Additionally, it is a pleasure to work with and be supported by County Executive Kathy Jimino and her talented staff.
  • The theme of this year's budget is "Excellent Teaching, Engaged Learning and Enriched Lives." To illustrate that theme, let me return to the words of Jennifer Schroeder, whose story I shared with you at the beginning of my remarks:
    • "I will never forget those who have given so much of themselves to my learning experience. I take with me not only knowledge, but essential life skills – and most importantly, the fact that they have made me a better person and gave me the gift to believe in myself."
  • I am truly grateful for your ongoing commitment and stewardship. I request your continued support, and I ask your support of the college's operating budget for 2005-06. Thank you.