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BCC’s website not clicking

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT : Bergen Community College has been without a fully functional website since Tuesday, when its contract for online services and information technology was abruptly cancelled by the administration, sources at the college told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

BCC administrators pulled the plug on the contract with SunGard Higher Education as of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the same day that
faculty members dismissed a censure of college President G. Jeremiah Ryan proposed by their union and, instead, opted for a Memorandum of Agreement under which both, as one instructor put it, “agreed to play nice.”

The school had to pay an early termination fee for breaking the SunGard contract (which was to have run through 2012), and its information technology is now being administered by paid outside consultants — all funded by taxpayers, college sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

In turn, at least a dozen people who worked either directly for the college or who were moved over to SunGard after the contract was signed are now without jobs, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.

“I spent some time this morning hoping NOT to find the problems still existing on the website and was appalled that they still remain, unfixed, as students are preparing to register for the winter and spring terms,” one Bergen County resident wrote this morning, in an email to CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

A random run-through of the site late this morning found several dead links, including a revolving banner homepage — highlighting past, and not current, events at the school — as well as admission forms for prospective spring semester students.

Several other links functioned normally.

“An attempt to learn more about the school, read about class requirements for academic classes, or download forms is also full of dead ends,” the resident wrote, in an email this morning. “Many of the site’s links are inactive or lead to ‘404 File Not Found’ Most of the online documentation that prospective new students need to access is in a similar state.”

As a result, anyone interested in enrolling for BCC’s spring semester must “physically go to the college itself, something at least ten years behind what is considered acceptable in higher education,” the reader wrote.

The site, along with tools for departments to manage their portions of it, “were migrated to a Microsoft product from the previous tools provided by Sunguard,” a source with direct knowledge of the circumstances explained. “No training was provided to those needed to manage the content; there only a short transition period before the entire site was ‘live,’ with almost no review before it became the only ‘face’ of the college to current and prospective students.

The move stunned students and faculty members.

“Our computers and IT infrastructure have fallen into disrepair. Internet access has become all but unusable, and no one even knows whom to call about it,” one faculty member told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

“In this day and age, most prospective students for a college expect to be able to scan college offerings, register as students, and apply for courses via the college’s web site,” said the reader cited earlier in this story. “Most students do not expect to have to do any of this in person at the actual campus, and many of them expect to be able to practice ‘distance learning,’ where they may never set foot on campus or in a classroom at all. This is considered a major benefit of community colleges, and is a selling point to students.

“The school relies upon the Web for students to be able to access the catalog of courses and all the related information. Without this online and correct, the most important expected marketing tool for the college does not exist.”

Ryan repeatedly has said his goal is excellence. In turn, students and faculty are questioning appointments, as well as the acquisition of property in the Meadowlands to expand the college when William Paterson University offered facilities at its Rutherford campus, and the anticipated hiring of outgoing Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney as head of the Meadowlands campus. McNerney was defeated in last month’s election by the county clerk, Kathleen Donovan.

Of $50 million worth of bonds sold  by the Bergen County Improvement Authority during its biggest year, more than half went toward the purchase of the Meadowlands building.

The chairman and former commissioner of the BCIA at the time was Peter J. O’Malley, who was named this summer in a a 68-count federal mortgage fraud indictment returned against him and a partner of his Ridgewood firm.


BCC faculty reaches agreement with President Ryan, no censure vote
BCC faculty to vote on censure for President G. Jeremiah Ryan
Faculty reps agree to censure BCC president
‘No confidence’ vote pending versus BCC president

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