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Presidential Speeches

01/31/2011
Spring 2011 All College Meeting

Jan. 31, 2011
2 p.m., Maureen Stapleton Theatre

Program

Order of Speakers
President Matonak
Greg Sausville (Faculty Association president)
Rosemary Schultz (Academic Senate chair)

President Matonak begins
Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to those who just returned from intersession break. This afternoon I want to update you on some of our accomplishments, but most of all I want to share some of the challenges we are currently facing as a college community.

Hopefully, you leave this gathering with a better sense of how the college is dealing with these enrollment and funding issues and an understanding of our upcoming strategic goals.

At last fall's All College Meeting, I talked to you about your great achievements of the past few years and provided an update on some of our strategic priorities. I talked about how we are challenging ourselves to build on our success in student retention; our focus on promoting TEC SMART and our other off campus sites; and our ongoing commitment to student success and customer service. We have had much success in recent years and we are well positioned for LONG TERM  success.

However, as we heard in the President's State of the Union address and Governor Cuomo's State of the State address, we are facing a "new reality" nationally, in NY State, locally and institutionally. The way ahead is not clear with the state facing a $10 billion dollar budget shortfall. So, needless to say, the next couple years will not be easy times for Hudson Valley Community College.

As we enter this era of budgetary uncertainty, it's more important than ever that we speak as a campus community, and, in turn, state our case to the community at large. I want to encourage each of you to do three things:  First, please let's keep the lines of communication open throughout the year – my door is always open to any member of the faculty or staff. Secondly, I encourage all of you to take an active role in helping us in responding to our fiscal challenges and, third, I encourage you to become an advocate in your community for the work we do here at Hudson Valley. No amount of radio and TV advertising can match the good will and positive word of mouth that is generated not only by our students and alumni but also by the 1200 ambassadors who come to work here each day.  Remember, we are so much better working together to tell our story.

Despite these tough times, I want to assure you that Hudson Valley is on solid fiscal ground. Why? -  Because of the prudent choices we have made, the continual growth of our student base and the efforts we have made to secure outside funding for programs and facilities.  We stand on solid ground because of everyone's hard work, smart planning and tough choices. One example of those tough choices is that I have decided not to replace Vice President Boggess. In your program you will find how we have addressed all of her functional areas. Sarah did a great job for us and we wish her much success in her new job. Another tough choice is that we have instituted a 5% budget cut across the board in non-personnel areas for this fiscal year. In spite of state funding that has been cut to 1999 levels, we have survived this fiscal year without significantly impacting day to day operations.

Some of our sister institutions have not fared as well this past year. You've all heard about the highly publicized academic program cuts. SUNY colleges and universities across the state are making difficult decisions in the wake of this unprecedented fiscal situation by cutting academic programs such as foreign languages, nursing, computer science, studio art and speech therapy. Some schools are eliminating course sections, increasing class sizes and cutting staff and faculty positions. Unlike other schools, we have not cut programs, executed layoffs, furloughs or decreased our workforce…..YET….    With your help we will withstand this fiscal challenge.

Despite the dire financial status in which New York State finds itself, we need to continue to focus on our core mission of providing high quality, accessible education for our students. The state of NY and our local community needs us now more than ever.

This is not the same positive message I have given to you in previous All College addresses. I am purposely not painting a rosy picture for you today. While we do everything we can to maintain continuity and not impact daily operations, we are NOT immune to these external forces. It is clear that we are in this new economic and budgetary reality that, frankly, this college has not been exposed to in our past. We will, most assuredly, continue to be effected by fiscal constraints from our state and local counties. I suggest that you all pay special attention to the details of the Governor's budget tomorrow. And, I will keep you up to date as the budget discussions progress.

Despite our recent enrollment successes, it's important for all of us to realize that we are also facing a new level of competition from Schenectady County Community College seeking to expand their reach into our service area. We are facing a projected 10 year decline of high school graduates which means that we need to work diligently to increase our yield of applications, AND expand our College in the High School efforts. This means that we should be offering courses in the high schools that perhaps we have not offered in the past. I know we can do this as other colleges have AND I know we can also maintain the academic excellence that we are so proud of. Additionally, we are facing some county politicians who wish to make drastic changes to amend the community college funding formula. Those changes would surely have a debilitating effect on Hudson Valley and the community college system as a whole. Yet, with all of the economic and budgetary storm clouds gathering, we, at Hudson valley, will continue to excel because THAT is what we do.

It is important for all of us to realize that Hudson Valley MUST continue in a growth mode – in new infrastructure; in plans to grow our College in the High School and off-campus offerings; and in plans to seek continued enrollment growth. The Enrollment Management Committee just gave us their enrollment projections for next year and it is not pretty. We could be facing a 4% decline in enrollment unless we act proactively.  If we do not maintain our current enrollment of 14,000 students, we will have to make more significant decisions to balance next year's budget. So, in other words, we cannot continue with a status quo attitude. We need to be more aggressive and more proactive than ever before.

I have been asked by some, "why do we need to continue to grow in enrollment?" Well, everyone needs to realize that 1) we are currently funded by the state the same as in 1999 with the prospect of even greater cuts, 2) we have not received an increase from our sponsor since 1999. And you all know that 80% of our budget is personnel. So let me ask,…Is there anyone here who is making the same as they were earning in 1999? The only revenue source we have control over is tuition and we are close to our ceiling on tuition levels.

This new reality requires innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and the active involvement from the college community. We need to collaborate to find effective cost-saving measures that don't impact student achievement and I will be soliciting your ideas regarding how we can be even more cost efficient. We need to work diligently to increase retention of students. Retention is everybody's business, from improved customer service to proactive advising. We need to improve our yield of applications by actively reaching out to applicants to encourage them to be assessed and advised as early as possible. We need each of you to step up in whatever way you can.

We've had some notable successes over the past year because of your great work.  Additionally, we secured external funding that boosts our ability to provide the highest level of academic excellence.

Up on the third floor of Amstuz, you'll find Biotechnology students and faculty members working on state-of-the-art equipment thanks to a $3 million dollar grant from the US Department of Labor. Students are working on the exact same equipment they'll be using when they graduate and find jobs at regional employers like Regeneron, AMRI and Albany Medical Center.

An additional $3 million dollar grant secured last year from the National Science Foundation will allow us to create a regional training network for semiconductor technician programs. That grant has us partnering with companies like GlobalFoundries, GE and Tokyo Electron as well as academic partners like UAlbany and Rensselaer.

With these kinds of initiatives, we're placing ourselves at the center of workforce training for what we believe will be the growing industry sectors of upstate New York.  It's that kind of innovative, proactive thinking that has made us one of the most respected community colleges in the state. We're out to show that community colleges, and Hudson Valley in particular – will lead this state's economic revitalization.  

Plans are also moving forward on a 100,000-square-foot Science Center with state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms. While we are also facing funding challenges regarding the Science Center, we are still planning for construction to begin this summer and be completed in 2013. Nineteen million dollars in funding is also planned to renovate other academic buildings on campus when the Science Center is completed.

You will hear more about the progress on the Science Center as we head toward groundbreaking. I want to reiterate that, while we are dealing with a variety of fiscal issues, we will continue to make Hudson Valley a true 21st century institution.

While we are moving forward on numerous academic fronts, it's important to emphasize that all the new buildings and multi-million dollar grants would be insignificant if they weren't coupled with the hard work, dedication and genuine caring that is the hallmark of Hudson Valley's faculty and staff.  You take much pride in creating an academic environment that is intellectually challenging, as well as caring and supportive. Clearly, it shows. The community recognizes it and our students appreciate it. AND, for the second time in two visits to the area, the President of the United States recognizes the great work that you do.

I AM happy to announce that the college and both the Faculty Association and the Department Chairpersons Association recently agreed to new collective bargaining agreements. I am so pleased that the faculty and the administration have come together and agreed to move forward with a mutually agreeable plan. AND, I hope that you all recognize the appreciation and commitment that this administration and the Board of Trustees has made to you in this difficult time. As we move forward we are all going to have to realize that we will have to do even more with less.

As each of you return to your respective posts here at the college, whether it be in the classroom, in student services, or on the college grounds, I'd like you to keep in mind one thing.

Each of you is a college ambassador in the Capital Region and what you say about Hudson Valley, to our students and to community members, shapes their perceptions. As I mentioned earlier, no amount of paid advertising could equal the positive word-of- mouth this college already enjoys for its academic quality and exceptional service. No matter what job you hold on this campus, you are the face of Hudson Valley Community College -- here on campus interacting with students and in your hometown. No matter where you are, how you talk about the college and what it does for its students means a lot.

I also encourage you to get involved, through your ideas and actions, to help us retain and attract students. This semester, I challenge you to take one step in that direction – more if you'd like.

Before I close, I'd like to recognize the fact that, over the last few months, we have said goodbye to 47 respected and beloved colleagues. Our recent retirees range from front-line customer service staff to department chairs and faculty members with four decades of teaching behind them. The college will move on, but I would be remiss to not formally recognize the contributions of these long-tenured faculty and staff members. You all have a tremendous opportunity to fill their void and make your indelible mark on Hudson Valley. The list of our most recent retirees is in today's handout.

It's now my pleasure to welcome those new colleagues to our Hudson Valley family, and borrow a quote from our Academic Senate president Rosemary Schultz, who called employment at Hudson Valley "a partnership with the whole college community." This college community, this family of ours, has high expectations and hopes for all of us. For those of you here for the first time, WELCOME. We tell new students to get involved in college life through clubs and activities. We should equally encourage new faculty and staff to get involved in the life of the college through involvement in Academic Senate and other initiatives at the college.

Rather than individually introduce all of our new employees, I would like to ask all of you to please stand?  ..,New Department Chairs, New Full-Time Faculty , New Full-time NTPs, New Full-time Classified Staff …  Please help me welcome all of them to Hudson Valley Community College. In a few weeks, I will be hosting a breakfast to welcome each of you individually to the Hudson Valley Family.

Well, I know that this is not the most uplifting speech and one that I don't enjoy making, but we will come out of this even stronger as an institution. With the challenges ahead of us, now, more than ever, it becomes critical that we come together and strengthen our campus community.

We are Hudson Valley….and TOGETHER we will continue to do great things. I want to thank all of you for EVERYTHING that you do for our students. Thanks everybody!

OTHER SPEAKERS

President Matonak introduces Greg Sausville
It is now my pleasure to invite Greg Sausville, president of the Faculty Association, to say a few words.

President Matonak introduces Rosemary Schultz
I now invite Rosemary Schultz, chair of the Academic Senate, to say a few words.

President Matonak closes
I've said it before and I will close with this statement again: ‘Hudson Valley Changes Lives." You all make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students and in our community. It does so because of all of you. Thank you for all that you do.  Have a wonderful spring semester!