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Don’t ask VP of Finance to pull double duty

Earlier this week, the VP of Finance at Bronx Community College – Kay Ellis – announced her retirement effective December 31, 2022. Community college administrators retire all the time, so that’s not unusual. However, Ellis stepped down from her position just one day before the BCC Faculty Senate was expected to pass a resolution calling for her ouster.

As the VP of Finance, Ellis oversaw BCC’s facilities. These are the same facilities that lacked heat until just a couple of weeks ago. They’re also the same facilities that flooded prior to the pandemic. As a reason for this move, the BCC Faculty Senate resolution, in part cited:

“…mismanagement and a lack of accountability with an ongoing neglect of infrastructure and facilities paired with poor management.”

This would not have been the first time the BCC Faculty Senate and Ellis crossed swords. The BCC Faculty Senate passed a vote of no-confidence in Ellis in 2019, after the campus experienced flooding in one of the buildings. Ellis refused to conduct mold testing as part of the cleanup process. She also told employees to wear sweaters when they complained about the inside temperature of the building. BCC has struggled mightily to restore heat to some buildings on campus this fall. Lack of heat in prior years was a symptom of much bigger maintenance issues on the horizon for BCC.

VP of Finance probably can’t also run Facilities

Several years ago, WCC adopted the same administrative arrangement as BCC, with apparently similar results. To no one’s surprise, putting the VP of Finance in charge of facilities (or IT) or really anything other than the back office is a disaster. So, when the VP of Finance won’t pay to prevent flooding in one of the buildings, or won’t pay for preventative maintenance on the sanitary sewers, or proposes and authorizes a maintenance budget of $0.25 per square foot, there should be no mystery about why WCC racks up two reportable environmental disasters in the span of eight days.

Remember all that money Bill bragged about shifting over to the “rainy day fund?” (Stockpiling cash for construction, maybe?) Where exactly was all that “savings” coming from? How much did the college save by not maintaining the chillers that blew out during UA week? And what were the savings from not performing maintenance on the sanitary system? The bricks that fell off the Morris Lawrence Building and the heaving walkways leading up to that building – how much did that save? Running end-of-life HVAC systems for all those years must really have saved the college a lot! Don’t forget about the second-level entry stairs for the SC Building. And ignoring the mold in the LA Building was also a clever financial gambit, wasn’t it? Not to mention draining the IT budget every year so the IT Department had no money to pay for its planned infrastructure upgrades – that was brilliant.

Maybe it’s best to have the VP of Finance take care of finances, and that’s it. Seemingly, when they’re asked to manage functions they have no particular experience with, serious (read: dangerous) problems manifest.

Photo Credit: 401(k) 2012, via Flickr