College: Altes’ contacts worth the money

The former head of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce has had his consultant role for S

The former head of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce has had his consultant role for Schenectady County Community College renewed.

The SCCC Board of Trustees last week approved a contract with Wally Altes running through Aug. 31, 2013, at a total cost not to exceed $30,000.

Altes has been a consultant for the college since 2009 and operated under yearly contracts.

Board member Ann Fleming Brown had wanted more information on what Altes accomplished before she voted in favor.

“We pay him every year and we have no idea what he does,” she said.

College officials say he has helped with business networking and developing new programs for the college.

Board member Ray Gillen said Altes has been invaluable in the college’s effort to get the student housing project completed.

“He helped us get the introduction to our new friends at [United Group of Companies],” Gillen said, referring to the developer of the $13 million, 264-bed facility across the street from SCCC.

Altes had personally known company president Walter Uccellini, who was killed in a plane crash, according to Gillen. In addition, Altes has reached out to business leaders to determine new programs that the college could develop and to solicit potential donors for the SCCC Foundation. “Wally is the guy who coined the phrase ‘Tech Valley.’ He’s very well-respected, highly thought of,” he said.

“The amount of money we’re talking about here is a pittance,” Gillen added.

Board Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said Altes is working with the college’s director of workforce development and the director of the business community.

“He’s got the best Rolodex in town and we’ve been able to take advantage of it,” she said, repeating a previous quip about his contacts.

For example, Altes helped the community college develop a rapport with CDTA officials that led to the program to provide free rides for SCCC students. Also, the college is exploring developing a CDTA driver training program using SCCC’s driving simulation.

In addition, Altes interviewed 20 faculty, staff and community members to get their feedback as part of the process to renew Bullock’s contract and develop his goals for 2012-2013.

“That wouldn’t have been appropriate for me,” Murphy McGraw said. “We needed an outside source.”

Altes received a $3,000-a-month contract for 12 months during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school year. During 2011-2012, that was cut back to 10 months at Altes’ suggestion, Murphy McGraw said, because things got quieter in the summer.

Murphy McGraw said it makes more sense for SCCC to hire an outside consultant rather than have a staff person such as Vice President of Academic Affairs Penny Haynes make these business connections.

“We don’t want her off campus every day meeting with people. She has serious responsibilities on campus,” Murphy McGraw said.

Categories: Business

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