Sunday, June 12, 2005

Griffo and Merging MVCC and SUNYIT

Another troubling series of articles appeared in the Utica OD this week and also on the WKTV Website (links below) which somehow gives the feeling that the region (and probably Utica in particular) is about to get shafted - again - by our political elites who are only looking out for themselves. According to the articles, County Executive Griffo is pushing for merging MVCC and SUNY-IT. Reading the articles gives the impression that students and faculty and certain academic leaders think this is a good thing. One has to ask "WHY?"

What is the County Executive's motivation in involving himself with college academics at a State Level? Deleting MVCC's lines from the county budget, and thereby enabling a tax break (and favor from voters) could be a reason. Currying favor from State Level officials, who apparently bungled when they decided to make SUNYIT a 4 year institution (given its declining enrollment) could be another.

The head of SUNY-IT may be trying to save his hide because he and his predecessor have been unable to grow that college as planned. Or, because he only holds his position temporarily, he may be protecting someone higher up the line. Regardless, lumping MVCC's numbers with SUNY-IT's would make the latter's statistics look better.

Faculty and MVCC adminstrators probably are expecting better pay, benefits, and opportunities for advancement from a merger, so those who are "connected" with no worry of losing their jobs could be expected to support a merger.

Students are mainly concerned about their own personal academic futures, and a merger would ensure the transferability of credits because there would be no transfer of institutions. The students interviewed have already benefitted by the current system being there for them. Will there be a system in place to benefit those students who come later? It is at the student level where the "answers" to whatever "problems" a merger would allegedly solve will play out.

In contrast to talks of "merger" in the OD articles, the official pronouncement from both institutions is quite different. (See MVCC, SUNY IT Explore Closer Collaboration). No where is "merger"mentioned.

The series of OD articles jumbles (intentionally? for what purpose?) the concepts of collaboration and merger together. SUNYIT was originally the Upper Division College -- a place intended for community college graduates to continue their educations. Given the fact that Utica-Rome had been the only metropolitan area in the state without a place for students to complete a 4 year degree at a state institution, the need for such a college was clear. It was obtained only after years of long and intensive lobbying. The articles, including the official one from the institutions, imply that SUNYIT has not fulfilled its original intent -- that both institutions still need to collaborate to fulfill the promise of an opportunity for local students to complete a 4 year degree.

Collaboration is different from merger. Collaboration, not only with MVCC but HCCC as well, should give local students all the security they need in planning their studies.

Merger, however, would potentially harm not only students but the region as well because the region would lose control over the institution to the State University. Just like our unelected Water Authority, we cannot assume that those running SUNY-IT will always act in the region's best interests or act competently. As easily led as it seems to be by the local political elite, the County Legislature, at least in theory, has sufficient control over the community college to ensure that local educational needs are met . . . and if the public does not think so, they can make themselves heard at the voting booth.
Collaboration: YES, of course! Merger: NO! The public needs to resist any further loss of control over its institutions to an unelected elite.

SUNY-IT And MVCC Merger In The Works - Griffo Asks Schools To Think It Over

MVCC, SUNYIT to discuss futures Colleges study merger

Students, faculty optimistic

SUNYIT hopes merger would boost enrollment

[For FOLLOWUP COMMENTS see Utica Area Discussions]

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