Erie Community College pays $8,000 for Quinn press release

Hiring of outside firm draws criticism
Posted at 6:39 PM, Nov 30, 2016

Erie Community College paid $8,000 to an outside public relations firm to put out a press release about president Jack Quinn’s retirement -- even though the college has its own full time P.R. staff.

Steve Bell, a local crisis P.R. executive from Eric Mower & Associates who helped write the press release, said a lot of effort went into announcing Quinn’s retirement in August. The hiring was first reported by The Buffalo News.

“This was a 4-month engagement that was very complex and involved many meetings, phone calls and emails to produce a cohesive communications plan that ECC needed,” Bell said.

Now at least one member of the ECC board is casting doubt on that, telling The News that it was unnecessary. That board member is not the only person questioning the expenses at ECC.

An audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released earlier this year revealed what the comptroller called questionable financial practices.

DiNapoli found that the college:

  • Gave more than $100,000 in raises and bonuses to senior officials without proper approval.
  • Created 10 executive positions worth more than $700,000 without approval from the board.
  • And gave out nearly a half-million-dollars in contracts to outside firms without putting them out to bid.

Meanwhile, enrollment has been declining and tuition continues to rise.