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ECC to legislators: Don't bar politicians from applying for presidency

Memo to sitting members of Congress: You're still in the running to become president of Erie Community College.

So are Assembly members, state senators, county executives and legislators.

Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo, C-West Seneca, tried to introduce an amendment barring politicians at all levels from being considered for the job.

"I want to make sure we hire someone who has the right experience to do the job, and it isn't just based off of a political connection," Lorigo said.

Lorigo's last-minute amendment would have barred any official responsible for college funding in the past two years from being considered for the job.

His attempt came as the Legislature considered a request Thursday to spend up to $80,000 on a consultant to help conduct a search for the college's next president.

No one seconded Lorigo's amendment.

Current ECC President Jack F. Quinn Jr., who will retire in June, is a former congressman who was named president a decade ago despite having no prior experience in higher education.

Lorigo called Quinn "a great guy" but noted ECC has struggled in recent years. The Legislature has repeatedly expressed concern over the college's enrollment declines.

ECC Board of Trustees Chairman Dennis Murphy attended the morning Legislature caucus when Lorigo's amendment was first raised. Murphy followed up with an email saying Lorigo's amendment would illegally discriminate against candidates who feel they meet the job qualifications approved by the Board of Trustees. The board's minimum qualifications, which have changed over time, require an advanced degree, but not necessarily in education.

ECC President Job Description

Murphy also said that Lorigo's resolution imposed conditions on the board that are not permitted under state law or the county charter.

The ECC board asked the Legislature to approve the funding so Wheless Partners could be hired as the consultant. The college reviewed proposals from seven search firms. The original request to hire Wheless Partners was unanimously approved.


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