A advisor recommends reshaping SUNY Erie Group Faculty by slicing college and directors, discontinuing ECC’s South Campus as a “home” for applications or departments and phasing out applications with low enrollment.
The report by schooling advisor RPK Group confirms extra cuts are seemingly in retailer for ECC’s South Campus, however doesn’t imply ECC will shut down the Orchard Park campus utterly, ECC President David Balkin mentioned.
“Just because a program will no longer be hubbed at South Campus doesn’t mean ECC won’t continue to offer classes and programs there,” Balkin mentioned.
“The overriding message here is that a community college isn’t just its two or three campuses. It’s how we are integrated into the community,” he added. “We will always have a presence in the Southtowns, but that will change based on demand, just as our presence in the north and city will change based on student and industry needs.”
The report doesn’t comprise any massive surprises. Balkin and Erie County Govt Mark Poloncarz have been speaking about the necessity to cease the bleeding at ECC since Balkin got here aboard as president in February. ECC has been struggling for years from enrollment declines that haven’t been matched by cuts to school, administration, employees, applications or infrastructure.
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In his State of the County tackle final month, Poloncarz introduced a $2.5 million retirement incentive for eligible ECC college and directors and careworn the necessity to “take substantial action now or face bankruptcy.”
“RPK isn’t sharing anything that everyone hadn’t already understood,” Balkin mentioned. “But they have helped us by climbing through the data to ensure that our understanding was truly data-driven as opposed to anecdotal.”
Poloncarz mentioned he had learn the report “and it spells out quite clearly the serious nature of the financial concerns that SUNY Erie is dealing with. We will continue to work with President Balkin in his ongoing efforts to attempt to address the significant shortfalls that the college faces going forward,” he mentioned.
The draft report additionally contained pointers to assist ECC assess its applications and sophistication choices. A remaining model shall be revealed on the ECC web site, ecc.edu, when it is accomplished.
ECC employed RPK Group to conduct the examine of its operations and assets in December with funding from the John R. Oishei Basis, Group Basis for Higher Buffalo, M&T Basis, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Basis, First Niagara Basis, Western New York Basis and the Erie Group Faculty Basis.
The agency, which makes a speciality of sustainable enterprise modeling for greater schooling, discovered that of 50-some faculties it has labored with, SUNY ECC has probably the most redundancies in college and administration, with dozens of duplicate positions throughout its North, Metropolis and South campuses.
ECC presently serves lower than 8,000 college students, down from about 14,000 a decade in the past. RPK predicts that enrollment “will not rebound to earlier peaks” however that the school ought to deal with bettering pupil outcomes – retention of scholars and completion of their levels – over enrollment “as ways to improve the overall financial picture.”
Balkin mentioned the crew and the county acknowledged the necessity to begin taking motion earlier than RPK’s report was in; therefore the retirement incentive that Poloncarz introduced April 7.
Balkin has been frank concerning the want for layoffs at ECC earlier than the autumn semester if not sufficient folks take the motivation. Earlier this month, he deactivated six low-performing applications at South Campus, which shall be taught out to permit college students to finish their levels however will not be accepting new college students.
RPK’s suggestions for additional adjustments embody:
- Staffing – Unify and “right-size” the school by transferring away from a multicampus mannequin with three separate administrations and employees and towards a ‘one college’ mannequin with college and employees distributed based mostly on pupil wants – together with eliminating applications that fail to draw college students.
- Programming – Eradicate older applications with fewer than 30 college students enrolled (on a three-year common), declining or single-digit development and diploma manufacturing beneath 10 per 12 months. Monitor newer applications applied since 2018 if they’ve fewer than 60 college students enrolled, have declining enrollment and diploma manufacturing beneath 20 per 12 months.
- Bodily footprint – Transfer all program “homes” to Metropolis Campus or North Campus and scale back or reallocate employees at South Campus to mirror diminished exercise there, whereas partnering with business and neighborhood assets “to continue a presence in the South Towns.”
Balkin pointed to a new auto tech co-op program that enables ECC college students to work for pay at two space auto dealerships, West Herr Automotive Group and Northtown Automotive Cos., as a part of their diploma research as a brand new option to broaden applications on and round South Campus to higher serve business and pupil wants.
He mentioned South Campus continues to be house to 9 applications which can be open for fall enrollment, guaranteeing that college students who enroll this 12 months will be capable to full their two-year levels. However he mentioned ECC shall be taking a tough have a look at class and program sizes based mostly on the RPK pointers.
“We are also looking at whether it makes sense to combine programs in ways to make them more effective rather than deactivating them,” Balkin mentioned.
Balkin mentioned the school tried for years to spice up enrollment by “casting a wide net” and providing extra lessons at completely different instances – leading to extra lessons with fewer college students, a mannequin that allowed college to satisfy their contract necessities to show 5 lessons a semester, however with some lessons serving solely a handful of scholars.
“The ideal situation is that we are efficient in using our faculty,” Balkin mentioned. “We want them to have the greatest impact possible as they are teaching.”
Andrew Sako, president of the School Federation of Erie Group Faculty, mentioned his union members are awaiting the ultimate model of the report and can then craft a response.
Up to now, he mentioned, he finds it troubling that the report gives little clarification of how ECC acquired into its monetary straits. Sako mentioned New York State underfunded ECC for years, contributing lower than referred to as for in state schooling legislation, and that ECC and the county deferred upkeep that would have created extra space for small applications to develop and a extra interesting setting to draw college students.
“It’s not just an enrollment issue or a contract issue, it’s a funding issue,” he mentioned.
Sako mentioned he hopes the ECC administration will make an effort to work hand in hand with college, together with long-term college who’ve “institutional knowledge” that ought to be tapped to information youthful academics earlier than they retire.
“I feel a few of these issues could possibly be achieved over time,” he said. “But when they really need to repair the school, they want the folks doing the work to be those which can be guiding it.”