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Presidential Speeches

07/08/2008
2008-09 Budget Remarks to the Rensselaer County Legislature

Dr. Andrew J. Matonak
President, Hudson Valley Community College
Tuesday, July 8, 2008

INTRODUCTION

  • 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 fiscal year's activities at Hudson Valley Community College.
  • Our vision is to deliver what the future demands. Hudson Valley Community College is an institution that is truly a leader, remarkably innovative, thoroughly relevant, and unquestionably successful. And we're not done yet. We've got students to educate to meet the needs of a changing workforce, we've got programs to develop in the latest technologies and we've got a community to serve. After all – we are the community's college.
  • And community colleges truly are centers of educational opportunity. They are an American invention that put publicly-funded higher education at close-to-home facilities, beginning nearly 100 years ago.
  • It was insightful leaders then who recognized the need for strong, vibrant community colleges and it is mindful leaders today, such as yourselves, who are committed to our mission.
  • Currently the second-largest institution of higher learning in the Capital Region, Hudson Valley offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs through four schools: Business; Engineering & Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • Last Fall, we experienced the highest enrollment in the history of the college – 12,346.
  • Then, in May, the college celebrated its 54th commencement with the largest graduating class – 1,842 students. Not only that, we also had a record number of honor graduates – those students who completed their studies with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Among 2008 graduates, 433 achieved honor status.
  • Hudson Valley is known for providing dynamic, student-centered, comprehensive, and accessible educational opportunities. Students are choosing Hudson Valley in record numbers. Four-year institutions and employers are choosing Hudson Valley students.
  • Together, we need to ensure that Hudson Valley is positioned to meet the future needs of these students and address the demands of Capital Region employers.
  • It is expected by the communities we serve that Hudson Valley will be there for them – they count on us to change and evolve as their needs change and evolve. The college needs your continued support to be responsive to these needs.
  • The budget before you is the culmination of several years of strategic planning, both fiscal and more importantly, academic.

2007-08 HIGHLIGHTS

  • Before I outline key budget highlights and our plans for 2008-2009, I would like to share with you some highlights from the academic year that just ended.
  • In addition to experiencing our largest total enrollment and largest graduating class this academic year, last fall was a very exciting time on campus.
  • Thanks to your support, Hudson Valley has transformed into a truly "collegiate" campus atmosphere. Many of you were on hand as the college officially dedicated its new Administration Building, Teaching Gallery and Dr. Frank J. Morgan Clock Tower.
    • The three-story, 40,000 square feet Administration Building features seven state-of-the-art classrooms and brings numerous campus offices, including Finance, Human Resources, Purchasing, Payroll and Comptroller, under one roof.
    • Hudson Valley's Teaching Gallery, located in the Administration Building, is a spacious, two-story location for the college's art gallery. The 2,000-square-foot Teaching Gallery allows students in Hudson Valley's new Gallery Management degree program to plan and market exhibits. The Teaching Gallery also provides the Capital Region community with an attractive venue for public art exhibits.
    • The Dr. Frank J. Morgan Clock Tower is a 30-foot structure erected in the center of campus to honor one of the college's most distinguished and beloved professors and administrators. The clock tower was funded by alumni and others who were inspired by Dr. Morgan.
  • Not only were we transforming the Troy campus, we were making plans for a new facility. In September 2007, we announced TEC-SMART, a state-of-the-art educational facility that will be located in Malta.
    • Once established, TEC-SMART will feature classrooms and labs to train the area's workforce in emerging technologies, including semiconductor manufacturing, alternative fuels, photovoltaic and other renewable energy programs. The facility, which is expected to open in January of 2010, will also provide energy efficiency training for the building trades.
    • This initiative builds on Hudson Valley's longstanding commitment to technology education.
  • Last November, we received an unprecedented show of support from you with your approval of our entire Facilities Master Plan – a plan totaling nearly $200 million.
  • Thank you for understanding that the needs in our proposal were real and critical to our mission. This Spring, the state budget included the matching funds for a new parking garage and the construction of a new Brahan Science Center. This would not have come to fruition without the support of the Rensselaer County Legislature and our County Executive.
  • There is so much we can do to improve a student's experience at Hudson Valley. But it takes funding. Budgets are tight nationally, on the state level and locally. We cannot count on state and local funding to bridge the funding gap alone.
  • This is why, this Spring, we launched the college's first major gifts campaign – the most ambitious fundraising effort in the college's 55-year history. We have implemented this campaign, entitled The Promise of Our Region: The Campaign for the Community, to garner private support so that we can continue to maintain our margin of excellence.
  • To quote the campaign's Honorary Chairman, James Barba who is President and CEO of Albany Medical Center – "If the Capital Region is to have the learning environments, instructional quality and affordable programs that changing economic times demand, then we must invest in Hudson Valley Community College. We simply can not do without it."
  • This philanthropic effort is an important one – but we realize that it is just a piece of the puzzle in bridging the gap between costs and revenue. The campaign will raise money for restricted funds which will allow us to expand crucial high-cost programs, offer more scholarships and provide the latest in classroom technologies.
  • The recently announced Albany Med contribution of $175,000 per year is a case in point: Those funds will be utilized to expand our nursing program. We have a waiting list of students who wish to access the program, but have been unable to provide access to those students due to the "cost of curriculum" for the nursing program. Albany Med, which is suffering from a workforce shortage in the nursing area, is providing funds to allow us to serve more nursing students. Albany Meds investment covers half of the funding gap for nursing. My challenge is to acquire the remaining $175,000 per year to sustain the program.
  • The campaign funds will not pay for general fund items like utilities or maintenance. And that is why we need the continued support from you, our County Legislators, as well as representatives at the state and federal levels.
  • During the 2007-2008 academic year, the college offered new programs designed to ensure that our programs and curricula remain relevant and up-to-date. Some of the new offerings were:
    • The Insurance option, in our School of Business, provides students interested in a career in the insurance industry with a strong business foundation, an understanding of the key principles of the insurance industry, and a skill set which will prepare them for a new career or advancement in their current careers.
    • The Overhead Electric Line Worker Certificate program was developed in conjunction with National Grid to respond to the demand for overhead electric line workers throughout the Capital Region.
    • Our associate's degree in Invasive Cardiovascular Technology provides students with hands-on clinical experience in the field of cardiac catheterization. The Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist is a member of a team of individuals who work under the direction of a physician.
    • The Criminal Investigation degree offers a strong academic background in investigative techniques, forensic science, evidence collection and analysis. This associate's degree program prepares students to directly enter the law enforcement field.
    • The Photovoltaic Installation Certificate program provides the training students need to enter the growing industry of solar panel installation and maintenance.
  • And the college also continues to grow its off-campus offerings:
    • We offer credit courses at nearly 10 locations, including the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Albany Extension Center and the Albany Educational Opportunity Center.
    • We collaborate with 28 high schools – 12 in Rensselaer County alone – to offer juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn college credit during their regular school day, which gives them a jump start on their post-secondary education.
    • And the college has partnered with three high schools – Troy, Maple Hill and Colonie Central – to give students from 25 different school districts another opportunity to earn college credit during the summer.

2008-09 INITIATIVES

  • This budget further expands the college's academic offerings in 2008-2009. Key new programs include:
    • Our new Honors Program is designed to prepare academically advanced students for transfer to high-quality baccalaureate programs. By providing a rich environment that encourages scholarship, faculty/student relationships, active participation in the community, and an emphasis on connecting learning to life, Honors students will have a challenging and enriching experience at Hudson Valley.
    • Our new associate's degree in Theatre Arts will be a balanced and comprehensive course of study that develops students' interest and experience in the theatre arts and provides a broad-based academic foundation for further study and career opportunities.
    • On December 27th, President Bush signed a Fiscal Year 2008 Federal Omnibus Appropriations bill that included $478,492 for a new evening/weekend nursing program at Hudson Valley. This is the very first time the college has received a federal earmark.

      More than 250 students at Hudson Valley Community College are waiting to enter the college's Nursing Program, and more than half of those students have completed their prerequisite courses.

      The college is unable to expand the program without additional external funding because it currently has an annual per-student revenue gap exceeding $10,000.

      Development of this proposal dates back four years and its award is due to the persistence of Hudson Valley faculty and staff.
  • This year's budget also provides funding for upgrades to the campus-wide telephone and voice mail system. Implementation of this system will help our offices better track and route incoming calls and also allow managers to more effectively allocate their resources, which saves time and money. In essence, it's another resource to provide excellent customer service.

2008-09 BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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 2008-2009 proposed operating budget for Hudson Valley Community College totals $94,548,333 and projects an enrollment of 8,799 full-time equivalent students.
  • This budget does not include an increase in base state operating aid; state aid to community colleges remains at $2,675 per FTE. It does include a modest tuition increase of $100 (or 3.5 percent), with the recommended rate for in-state tuition totaling $2,900 annually.
  • It is important to note that our 3.5 percent tuition growth is less than the 3.7 percent Higher Education Price Index. The Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) is an inflation index that is a more accurate indicator for higher education than the Consumer Price Index.

  • The tuition increase is one way we are able to cover operating expenses. But this can't be the answer every year. As you know, the college has always done everything it can to hold the line on tuition costs, and that is evidenced by the fact that once again Hudson Valley will be one of three community colleges in the state with the lowest tuition.

  • We are committed to offering quality education that is affordable during this uncertain economic season.
  • Once again this year the college is not requesting any additional funding from you, our sponsor. The county's contribution to this budget remains at $3.1 million for the ninth consecutive year.
  • For the first time in the history of the college, it is necessary for capital maintenance projects to be included in our operating budget.
  • Facilities, inside and out, need to be maintained to ensure a safe, healthy and usable academic environment. Needing attention are:
    • Hudson Hall Roof Replacement – $420,000
      Hudson Hall houses numerous classrooms and laboratories critical to academic programs. The roof has outlived its useful life and needs complete replacement.
    • McDonough Sports Complex Roof Replacement – $1,320,000
      The Sport Complex is used by students, the general public and sports teams. After an infrared scan it was determined there are several areas of roof leakage. Failure of this roof could lead to serious damage to the facility and possible injury.
    • Marvin Library Bathroom Renovations – $260,000
      The library's bathrooms need to be renovated to bring them to ADA Standards.
    • Library Exterior Concrete Repairs – $500,000
      The library's exterior walls have failed and allow water leakage. These leaks appear inside the building causing water damage issues.
  • Access is key to our mission at Hudson Valley. The college disbursed $23.4 million in financial aid this year. The Foundation manages more than 178 restricted funds and expects to provide approximately $862,000 in support to the college and its students during the 2007-08 fiscal year, including $285,000 in scholarships.
  • If Hudson Valley is to continue to be the economic engine that drives Rensselaer County, we will require continued additional operating financial support in subsequent years. It is critical to our ability to serve Rensselaer County and your constituents.

CONCLUSION

  • Hudson Valley Community College's work reaches across socio-economic divides and moves people in ways that other forms of education cannot.
  • 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 its 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, Nancy McHugh, chair of the Education Committee, and her 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.
  • Now I'd like to show you a video that I believe tells the Hudson Valley story.
  • And, afterward, I would be happy to answer your questions.