NCCC seeks dialogue with counties, amid low confidence in president

SARANAC LAKE — North Country Community College leaders are trying to make peace with the school’s two sponsor counties.

Steve Reed, chairman of the NCCC Board of Trustees, responded Friday to the Franklin County Legislature after it almost passed a vote of “no confidence” in college President Steve Tyrell Thursday. The Essex County Board of Supervisors passed a vote of “no confidence” in Tyrell in April.

“The Board of Trustees respects the input of the Franklin County Board of Legislators on Dr. Tyrell’s leadership of the college,” Reed said in a written statement issued by the college. “The board believes ongoing direct dialogue between county leaders and college leaders is requisite for achieving greater understanding.

“For instance, we are aware of the legislators’ desire to see vocational, trade and/or service curricula offered at the college. To that end, the college is currently seeking proposals for a viability study on a potential School of Applied Technology.

“The Board of Trustees, which works closely with Dr. Tyrell, is pleased to note that in the recent years of Dr. Tyrell’s presidency, the college has improved its financial position and stabilized its enrollment. We are a full year into the college’s strategic plan, and the board is pleased to see a number of key strategic initiatives in the plan moving forward.”

NCCC’s enrollment has trickled downward annually in recent years, in keeping with a downward trend nationwide. Including both part- and full-time students, enrollment in the fall 2017 semester was a little over 2,000 students, according to Tyrell. Total enrollment for 2016-17 was 2,159, in 2015-16 it was 2,175, and in 2014-15 it was 2,276.

Nevertheless, college officials last fall said the numbers were better than they had hoped for, and given the general climate for higher education, they considered it good news.