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Comptroller’s Conclusions Overstated and Unsubstantiated

Nassau County Comptroller Maragos recently issued a report in which he discusses the graduation and transfer rates at Nassau Community College. While the College appreciates the Comptroller’s recognition of its current commitment to “data driven analyses of its core policies,” and that “NCC provides an invaluable service to thousands of Nassau County residents, offering an affordable higher education at a time when tuition at private institutions is soaring,” the central premise of his report — that campus turmoil at NCC in recent years is associated with a decline in the College’s graduation and transfer rates — is not supported by the facts cited in the report itself.

For example, the Comptroller’s report refers to the conflict at the College between the president and the faculty in 2012, yet notes that NCC’s combined graduation/transfer rate actually increased by 22% from 2011 to 2012.  If campus turmoil was “the cause” in the decline in graduation/transfer rate, and if those rates actually increased during part of that same time period, then how, logically, could the Comptroller isolate campus turmoil as “the cause?”

In addition, the report notes that Suffolk County Community College and Westchester Community College had also experienced a lower graduation/transfer rate from 2009 through 2011, but does not discuss whether these other two colleges were experiencing campus turmoil during that time.  If these other two colleges did not experience campus turmoil, but nevertheless experienced declines in their graduation/transfer rate, then the central premise of the Comptroller’s report is brought into serious question.  

Moreover, one need read no further than the Comptroller’s report itself to have questions about the definitiveness of his own conclusions.  His report states that it found no data that “conclusively” explains the decline in the combined graduation/transfer rate but only found evidence that “suggested” factors that “may” be the cause.  In light of these statements in the report itself, the Comptroller’s conclusions are overstated and unsubstantiated.

Nevertheless, the underlying issues dealing with the graduation/transfer rate are serious, and the College Administration has already initiated its own fact-based investigation as to the real causes of these problems and the potential solutions to them.  It is committed to working with the College’s Board of Trustees, the faculty and all other interested parties with the goal of taking concrete steps to improve the graduation and transfer rates at NCC.