SUNY Corning Trustees Support College President Amid Criticism From Faculty

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — The SUNY Corning Regional Board of Trustees unanimously passed a motion in support of college president Bill Mullaney on Thursday night. The vote was counter to a resolution of “no confidence” from the college’s full-time faculty union.

In the motion, the board said it fully supports Mullaney and the decision process that resulted in terminating several faculty positions.

The trustees approved several faculty cuts he proposed over the last year. In a statement Friday, Chair Nancy Wrightman said those cuts were in response to declining enrollment at the college.

“All educational institutions have been faced with significant issues during the past year, and SUNY CCC is no exception,” Wightman wrote in a statement on behalf of the board of trustees. “Dr. Mullaney has successfully guided our many College constituencies through a myriad of challenges including the onset of and operations during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

SUNY Corning President Bill Mullaney. (Provided by SUNY Corning)

According to Mullaney, enrollment at SUNY Corning dropped 13 percent during the pandemic.

“We are confident that the processes used by the College to make these difficult decisions to reduce current and future operating expenses were both thorough and well thought out,” Wrightman added.

Faculty union president Ryan Hersha said he is not surprised by the vote—the union only passed its resolution last week—but he hopes the board will pursue a “full and transparent” evaluation of the president in the future.

“We understand that these things take time, and for our part, as faculty, we’re eager to support the trustees as they seek to gather information and make their decisions moving forward,” Hersha added.

The trustees have not made any indication of evaluating Mullaney.

Hersha said he wished the trustees acknowledged the union’s concerns during its board meeting on Thursday. According to Hersha, the board has not communicated with union members or allowed public comment on the issue during its meetings.

“That said, we have to hope that the trustees do take our concerns seriously enough,” Hersha stressed. “They have to understand that when a college president does not have the support of the college faculty, that’s a problem.”

Other colleges in the region have seen resolutions of no confidence from faculty and students in recent years. Ithaca College’s faculty held a vote of no confidence against former President Tom Rochon in 2015. Three-quarters of the faculty reported a lack of confidence in Rochon.

That vote followed a series of campus protests and teach-ins criticizing Rochon’s handling of several racist incidents and the reality for students of color on campus. Rochon stepped down at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year.

At SUNY Corning, Hersha said the full-time faculty’s lack of support for Mullaney goes beyond the terminations. He said their resolution speaks to the issues with the climate on campus and the divisive tone and tactics the president is accused of using since he began his tenure.

Hersha said he hopes the board will seek to understand the faculty’s concerns and offer a remedy in a “responsible timeline.”