If you have been to the hospital or even a doctor’s office anywhere in the North Country, chances are that one of the nurses or radiologic technologists who took care of you was a North Country Community College graduate. Many local police and corrections officers, state troopers, business owners, athletic event organizers, artists, managers, counselors, teachers, etc. have begun and/or completed their education at NCCC. The success of these NCCC graduates has been built, in large part, by the full-time professional staff: the teaching faculty, librarians, athletic director, enrollment and financial aid counselors, and student affairs professionals, among others, whose job is to deal directly with students, to teach and advise them and coach them to success.
Because of our dedication, in 2010, NCCC was ranked the number one community college in New York State and number 22 in the nation by Washington Monthly. This was partly based on our good graduation rate and retention of students, and partly on the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, which showed that NCCC is above average in its care for students and ability to challenge and support them in their academic and personal journeys, just as the college mission states.
Unfortunately, the North Country Community College professional staff labor contract expired in 2009, at the height of the recession. As a result, despite our good work, we have not been able to negotiate a new contract and have not seen a pay increase in three years, while at the same time class sizes and instructional challenges have increased. We know that times have been hard all over, and we have kept on doing our jobs with the same dedication and effort despite the increased demands. All local organizations have been trying to do more with less since the recession began, and North Country Community College is no exception. The college has done more. Since spring 2009, annual enrollment has gone from 2,246 students to 2,847 as of spring 2011, while the number of professional staff has gone from 56 to 51, and yet the quality of the education we provide has remained just as high. It is time that we received some compensation for the extra burdens we have shouldered, especially given that the college does have the money in its budget.
This column was written by the North Country Community College Association of Professionals, represented by President Carol Vossler.