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New ECC president cuts upper-level administrators to save athletics

New Erie Community College President Dan Hocoy isn't wasting time changing how the college operates.

Hocoy, who took over as the college's 11th president earlier this month, already has reorganized some of the college's senior executive staff. A vice president and an associate vice president lost their jobs.

Hocoy said he made the moves to create a more efficient administration and to find cost savings.

"As you know, we've suffered from budget woes for quite a while now. I just don't think we can continue to raise student fees and dip into the reserve fund anymore," he said.

Hocoy declined to name the employees who were let go, but The News has learned the two administrators are Jeff Bagel, vice president of the ECC Foundation, and Darley Willis, associate vice president and chief officer of equity and diversity.

Bagel was slated to make $95,508 in 2017-18, and Willis was to earn $97,957. A third administrator, Edward Holmes, a vice provost, is retiring and will not be replaced. A fourth administrative post is being eyed for cutting. The changes will reduce the size of the senior executive staff, from 15 to 11, not including executive secretaries and assistants.

In all, Hocoy expects to create savings of nearly $500,000 by trimming cabinet-level staff.

"These are hard decisions to make. A lot of thought went into them," he said.

Much of the savings will be applied toward keeping intact the college's athletic program and maintaining hours of operation for the college gymnasium at the downtown campus, said Hocoy.

Future of hockey, baseball in question at ECC

College administrators earlier this year struggled to find about $200,000 in additional revenues to support the athletics department, after trustees rejected a proposal to increase the student fee that funds sports. Men's ice hockey and baseball were identified in May as the most likely sports teams to be suspended or eliminated due to the shortfall. But Hocoy said this week that those sports will be retained.

Hocoy said he is trying to create a culture of efficiency, relevance, innovation and entrepreneurship within the three-campus system.

"For me to expect any of my deans or other college leaders to create efficiencies, I think I need to set the tone from the top," he said. "It's a hit for me, but I think I need to set the example."

Dan Hocoy, president of Erie Community College.

Hocoy succeeded Jack F. Quinn Jr. as ECC president on July 5. He formerly was associate vice chancellor for advancement in the Antioch University System and president of Antioch University Seattle. The ECC Board of Trustees viewed Hocoy as a change agent capable of bringing a fresh perspective and implementing new ideas at the college, which has suffered for years under tight budget constraints and declining enrollments.

Hocoy acknowledged that one of the opinions he has heard often upon his arrival in Western New York is that there are too many upper-level administrators at the college.

"That was a common refrain, that we're top heavy," he said.

The cuts were not a reflection of poor job performance, Hocoy said.

"People were providing value, there's no doubt. People weren't sitting on their hands. These four positions are a sacrifice in the president's office," he said.

Hocoy said he and other cabinet-level staff will take on the duties of staff who retired or were let go.

In August, Michael Pietkiewicz, executive vice president of operations at ECC, will take on an expanded role as executive vice president for institutional advancement and efficiency, overseeing the operations of the college foundation while also creating operational efficiencies at the college aimed at ensuring balanced budgets. Lydell Fortune, the college's employee relations manager, will serve as chief diversity officer on an interim basis.

Hocoy is looking to replace William D. Reuter, ECC's longtime chief financial officer who left in June to become vice president for administration at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, Rensselaer County.

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