CSCU president aims for another consolidation plan - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CSCU president aims for another consolidation plan

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Capital Community College in Hartford. (WFSB file photo) Capital Community College in Hartford. (WFSB file photo)

The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities' Board of Regents will convene this week to discuss, among other things, another consolidation plan.

President Mark Ojakian will present a revision to his rejected Students First consolidation plan on Thursday.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges rejected his first proposal back in April. It involved consolidating the state's 12 community colleges into one main college as a means to partially make up a $31 million deficit for 2019.

"That's still the target, one accredited institution, one community college of Connecticut, whatever they decide the name will be," said Ojakian. 

The rest of it could be made up with a rise in tuition or the closing of some campuses, something Ojakian said he's trying to avoid.

The plan didn't sit well with a number of students and faculty members, who felt the quality of the education would be affected.

Since the rejection, Ojakian said he met with representatives from the NEASC and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

He said they helped identify ways to progress towards a more efficient organization while adhering to the Board of Regents' objectives.

"As a result, we are revising our Students First plan in three significant ways: Extend our timeline for the single accredited community college to 2023 thereby keeping the 12 accreditations of the colleges, develop a more gradually paced academic planning and transition process, and maintain the current department chair structure," Ojakian wrote in a letter to the CSCU community.

The revised plan is estimated to save $17 million versus the $23 million from the first plan.

The new plan also includes:

  • Regionalizing our community colleges and creating a new leadership structure.
  • Aligning college curricula statewide to support high quality educational programs and seamless transfer, including adoption of a statewide general education curriculum.
  • Implementing initiatives such as guided pathways to improve and increase student enrollment, retention, and completion.
  • Integrating administrative functions into centralized shared services.
  • Sharing resources across campuses to stabilize critical college functions, reduce redundancies and leverage expertise.
  • Hiring a number of positions to raise additional income for the system including a VP of Enrollment Management and a CSCU Development Officer.

"Our goal remains the same, to create a dynamic community college focused on helping students attain their individual educational goals, and responds to community and state needs," Ojakian said.

Some doubt whether the college's system is really serious about saving money. Professors are now in line to get an 11 percent pay increase over two years. 

That contract was negotiated between the governor and the unions last year. Republicans voted against SEBAC, saying benefits across the board are unaffordable. 

The 11 percent increase will also be applied to associate and assistant professors, instructors, and coaches. 

Ojakian would not comment on the wage increase. 

The new plan will be voted on Thursday at their board meeting. 

Channel 3 will have more on this story starting at 5 p.m.

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