By Keith Shikowitz
SUFFERN, NY – SUNY Rockland Community College (RCC) is confronting a significant financial challenge as it grapples with a budget deficit estimated in the millons. This alarming revelation emerges from an exclusive interview with several sources, who requested to not be named in this news article.
In a recent event, the Annual Senior Fair held on September 14, 2023, at the SUNY RCC Fieldhouse, County Executive Ed Day, State Senator Bill Weber, and several other elected officials lauded RCC as the “Jewel of the County.” However, a mere month later, a source close to RCC mentioned that the college’s reputation has been tarnished due to decisions made by the last administration, leading to concerns of corporate greed and questionable practices.
Dr. Michael A. Baston, who served as the president under the previous administration, is reportedly at the center of several controversies. Notably, he left in the midst of his contract under unusual circumstances. Days before his departure, he approved a $25 million, 5-year contract with a company named Ellucian. This company has since been accused of overcharging the college for equipment.
Beyond these immediate financial concerns, the college’s enrollment rate is at an all-time low. Our sources further highlighted the hiring practices of Dr. Baston, noting that he hired numerous individuals to the position of Vice President, resulting in excessive spending without evident benefits to the institution. There are claims that many of these hires were Dr. Baston’s close associates, some of whom lacked the expertise required for their roles. These actions, combined with a lack of transparency, have raised significant concerns about the governance of the institution.
In a follow-up press release provided by the Board of Trustees of the College, a budget deficit was acknowledged, and the originally reported amount of a $12 million dollar deficit was contested; rather the deficit was estimated to be as low as $3 million dollars. The board also indicated that they were seeking to minimize impact on employees that may be affected by the cost-cutting measures. RocklandNews.com is following up to identify the true budget deficit amount.
According to the official Wikipedia page for SUNY Rockland, “RCC is sponsored by the County of Rockland and operating and administered by a ten-member Rockland Community College Board of Trustees that is appointed pursuant to New York State Education Law § 6306. Nine of the Trustees serve seven-year terms, with five of those appointed by the county and four by the Governor. The tenth trustee is a voting, student representative. The board in turn appoints a President who hires and supervises the staff. RCC is a community college unit of the State University of New York and is also subject to regulation and visitation by the Regents of the University of the State of New York.”
In the wake of these revelations, the college is reportedly considering staff layoffs as a means to manage the financial shortfall. Alone, college payroll accounts for approximately $3 million dollars, which by itself cannot balance the looming deficit.
RocklandNews.com will continue to follow this story closely, providing updates as more information becomes available.
- Yesterday we reported that County Executive Ed Day was in talks with various Union representatives regarding this matter. After further study, that particular item is not accurate nor confirmed, thus it is retracted.
- Representatives for SUNY Rockland are contesting the originally reported $12 million dollar deficit number, and indicating that the deficit is closer to $3 million.