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Confidential report downgrades Quinn’s effectiveness

As we have reported for some time, many at Erie Community College have questioned the commitment and leadership of President Jack Quinn who earns $192,500 to run the school but has several outside assignments not related to college business that often take him away from the college and leave the day-to-day management in the hands of his staff.

We have obtained a copy of a confidential presidential evaluation report for 2015 prepared for the ECC Board of Trustees by the Association of Community College Trustees and it shows a significant drop in Quinn’s evaluation from the previous year. It is based on surveys distributed to the board on Nov. 15, 2015 and submitted to the association by Dec. 8, 2015, several weeks before the scathing audit report issued by the state comptroller on ECC which criticized the Quinn administration for its secretive and unauthorized policies in creating jobs and handing out raises.

Perhaps most shockingly in decline is the board’s evaluation of Quinn under the category Use of Resources.

The average rating in the category was 2.75, down by .58 from 2014 and is the second lowest rated category. Here is a portion of the rating in the Use of Resources category for 2015 and the difference from 2014:

  • Understands the institution’s financial needs and communicates them clearly—down 0.86 from 3.57 to 2.71;
  • Applies resources to assure the budget furthers the college mission, goals, and long range plans—down 0.72 from 3.43 to 2.71;
  • Provides sound fiscal management, including the ability to address budgetary matters in a way that achieves efficient and effective use of resources—down 0.58 from 3.29 to 2.71;
  • Provides leadership for and supports appropriate strategies for attracting funds to college—down -1.00 from 4.29 to 3.29.

The evaluation decline came during a year of particular difficulty at the college with emergency measures enacted to deal with a growing financial crisis that has resulted in annual tuition hikes (2 years and more coming) and depletion of the reserve fund threatening Middle States accreditation.

It also came during the year that state auditors were going over the books at ECC and finding that accountability, transparency, and strong board oversight were lacking and the Quinn administration was operating as kind of a rogue enterprise, creating jobs, handing out raises to executives, and conducting its operations out of sight of the board.

The presidential evaluation report certainly suggests the board was losing faith in Quinn’s performance but did nothing to make any changes, leaving that call for action coming from the state comptroller. As for Quinn, he is meeting with elected officials at this time to assure them that things will change now that the state comptroller has put it in writing that ECC’s administration was out of control. Quinn is a smooth salesman, a veteran Washington politician who knows his way around political circles. But this could be his toughest sales job yet as now the public knows how bad it was at ECC under his watch.

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