Board of Trustees to discontinue six graduate programs

The Board of Trustees has officially moved to discontinue six of the College’s graduate programs in a resolution that passed unanimously in an open meeting of the board on Oct. 2. The programs that will no longer accept new students, but will continue for the current class, are Speech Pathology, Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant, Elementary Education (elementary supervision), Elementary Education (master teacher), Early Childhood Education and the post-master’s Certificate in Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling.

According to the resolution, the master’s in Speech Pathology has been unable to recruit faculty members in order to maintain a sufficient level of quality. The Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education programs have been under-enrolled. The master’s in Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant is redundant with an already-existing certification program and the post-master’s certificate in Substance Abuse both has its courses offered through the master’s program in Community Counseling and is under-enrolled.

During the meeting, College President R. Barbara Gitenstein said these were “difficult but necessary decisions” reached after receiving “extensive input” from the campus community.

Gitenstein said in an e-mail interview that the decision to discontinue the programs was in response to the “dramatic budget cut,” but only after the board “had exhausted all our efforts to dramatically reorganize all other aspects of the College.” Also, the College’s mission states that the College is a “primarily undergraduate residential” school and that the board “turned (its) attention to graduate programs,” Gitenstein said.

The recent audit results of the College’s financial status, conducted by the audit and finance committees, were also discussed at the meeting. Anne McHugh, member of the board, reported that the College “passed with flying colors” and is in “sound financial health.” The College’s financial situation is “a lot better this year than last year,” McHugh said.

Part of that success comes from an increase in the College’s endowment, which rose from $4 million to $16 million under Gitenstein. Stacy Holland, chair of the board, attributed the upsurge in donations to Gitenstein and during the meeting characterized the president as an “outstanding professional.”

The board unanimously awarded Gitenstein with “a one-time payment of 8 percent of her base salary,” a resolution read. Holland clarified the resolution, saying the clause for a bonus has always been in Gitenstein’s contract, but this was the first time the president has been awarded such a bonus.

Also discussed, and approved, at the meeting were waivers to vendors the College has recently done business with, including the College’s subscription to The Wall Street Journal for $42,000 and a $1 million payment to Cedar Crestone, a consulting firm used by the College to help implement the PeopleSoft Student Administration System, according to the resolution.

The Board of Trustees also approved a budget request to the state of New Jersey for the 2009 fiscal year, totaling $62.1 million. The budget includes $40 million for the new education building. The budget request extends projections to the 2015 fiscal year and includes more than $27 million for the new academic building and $19 million for science lab renovation.

Holland also announced that the Strategic Initiatives Plan will be presented to the College later this month. The plan outlines the “next step or phase of growth” for the College, Holland said.

According to Holland, the Board of Trustees will hold another public meeting in December, in order to showcase how the board makes decisions, to explain the chain of communication in the College’s governance, as well as the responsibilities of the board.