Over the objections of many faculty, students and staff, the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education has endorsed a plan consolidate the state’s 12 community colleges into a single statewide college.
The Hartford Courant reports that regents' vote authorizes the a year and cut nearly 190 jobs.
The plan will require the approval of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Ojakian said he hopes to submit plans to the accreditors in March, with a target date of July 2019 to launch the new college.
John O’Connor, an executive committee member of American Association of University Professors at Central Connecticut State University, said after the vote: “I think it was a bad day for students in Connecticut….It’s a bad decision by the board, horrible.”
About a dozen speakers, including, faculty, staff, students, and community people, spoke during the public comment period of the meeting, and all of them objected to the merger.
John Shafer, who has taught at Middlesex Community College for more than 30 years and is a vice president of the Community College Governance Assembly, read a statement from the group, saying that the colleges will compromise their local accountability and responsiveness if control of the colleges shifts to one large institutional management structure.
He questioned the need for the “drastic step of dissolving all of the community colleges,” as well as questioning whether the proposal will actually achieve the projected savings.
Others raised concerns about the risk of losing accreditation, the loss of local identity, and an increased bureaucracy that could make it difficult for faculty or administrators to act creatively or nimbly.
But Ojakian says that because of declining enrollment and state support, “we have a structural deficit” that is “only going to be stabilized if we make structural modifications to our organization.”
He says he will work to ensure that the transition to a single college does not disrupt students and emphasized that cutbacks do not affect faculty or staff who deal directly with students.