NEW BRITAIN, CT (WFSB) -- The union that represents faculty members for the four Connecticut state universities is calling on state leaders to invest in public higher education, and reject a recent proposal that would cut funding.
The Connecticut State University Association For University Professors (CSU-AAUP) held a news conference Wednesday morning at Central Connecticut State University, joining faculty members and students, to announce its vision for public higher education that they say puts students first.
This comes after the union says the Board of Regents approved $8 million in additional cuts to the four state universities, as it faces a $69 million deficit.
The cuts include funding for part-time professors and graduate assistants, among other cost-saving measures, impacting CCSU, Southern CT State University, Western CT State University, and Eastern CT State University.
At the rally on Wednesday, faculty members and the union said the cuts will hurt the state’s most vulnerable students, “causing lost opportunities, learning, and development when needed most.”
They added that the cuts will limit the number of class sizes available, and it may lead to students taking longer to graduate.
“CSU-AAUP has a different vision of what public education can be. We believe in a better future for Connecticut’s college students where they are empowered to reach their full potential,” said CSU-AAUP President Patty O’Neill. “This vision cannot come to fruition via budget cuts, institutional consolidation, or program elimination. It will only be achieved by investing in a public university system that we can continue to be proud of, a system where minds are opened, where doors are opened, where lives are transformed.”
Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said this comes as enrollment is down at the four state universities, the 16 community colleges, and Charter Oak State College.
He said fewer students are living on campus, and he doesn't think things will return to normal once a vaccine is available, adding that the schools don't have the budget reserves to sustain this.
"I don't think it's an unreasonable exercise to have folks look at their budgets and try to find ways to further trim the costs," Ojakian said.
The professors' union feels they're asked to shoulder the burden every time there's a financial problem. But Ojakian says they received $20 million in raises in July, when so many people remain unemployed, and he thinks concessions should be part of the plan.