A draft of the top of the organizational chart for the proposed college consolidation.

The Sunk-Cost Fallacy: The justification of increased investment of money or effort in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment (“sunk cost”) despite new evidence suggesting that the future cost of continuing the behavior outweighs the expected benefit.

“Throwing good money after bad.”

“It’s never the wrong time to make the right decision.”

“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

Connecticut State College and Universities President Mark Ojakian and the Board of Regents are spending money like crazy.

They will need to spend a lot more in the coming year.

Things are going so badly for “Students First” that the BOR is now paying (bribing?) faculty with large cash bonuses to work on this project. This is in response to votes this spring from the governing bodies of all 12 community colleges to cease work on “Students First.”

We are in the midst of a pandemic. We have tremendous needs for faculty development, advising, and teaching positions at community colleges across the state.

Rather than saving money, “Students First” is now actually turning out to be one of the most expensive bad ideas in Connecticut higher education history.

The BOR budget has ballooned by over $16 million dollars under this plan.

Will “Students First” ever save any money? Although President Ojakian and the BOR claim it will, the numbers simply don’t add up, as anyone can see.

Nonetheless, as William James famously observed, “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.”

A new organizational plan has been unveiled for the new consolidated community college that will require hiring many more expensive administrators—not the teachers and advisors students need.

This hiring is in addition to the three new regional presidents and the system president, and the new interim provost, interim CFO, and three associate vice presidents—all newly-created positions.

Where is all this money coming from? Is there any limit to the amount of money the BOR can spend?

And what will happen when the BOR comes looking for more money in the months ahead to fill these many new administrative positions?

If you gave anyone that kind of money, they could “save” community colleges,  too —without all the hassle, conflict, and votes of no confidence from community college academic governing bodies across the state.

Unfortunately, this is the world of Connecticut politics, where common sense and evidence don’t seem to have a place in decision-making.

As a political endeavor, this has been conducted masterfully by President Ojakian and the BOR. We have been very impressed with the way the political aspects of “Students First” have been handled. This is a textbook example of power politics at its finest.

Unfortunately, this is not a political issue— it’s a social justice issue. The public institutions in Connecticut that do the most for those who have the least are now being systematically dismantled and defunded.

Community colleges serve many underrepresented and first generation students —and many students who struggle financially and academically. Community colleges give students hope, opportunity, and a stepping-stone that isn’t available to them at most universities.

Community colleges also bring people and communities together.

During these troubled times, we need to do everything we can to strengthen these essential public institutions.

The business community has a phrase for what is happening right now to Connecticut community colleges: “hostile takeover.”

Surely, something must be amiss if all 12 community college faculty and staff governing bodies voted this spring to cease participating in “Students First” work.

The draft of the “One College” CSCC Organizational Chart released on May 15 makes a number of things very clear:

  1. “Students First” Consolidation is hurting students right now.
  2. “Students First” Consolidation will continue to drain valuable resources away from our current students and our colleges.
  3. “Students First” Consolidation is now adding layers upon layers of unnecessary, expensive, wasteful management positions at the “College Level,” the “Regional Level,” and the “System Level.”
  4. “Students First” Consolidation centralizes decision-making and removes decision-making from faculty, staff, and administration.
  5. “Students First” Consolidation is an attempt to weaken the voices of staff and faculty, and it is an attempt to weaken the voice of the unions.

Legislators, are you going to continue to co-enable and preside over this incredibly expensive bad idea?

Sandra Barnes, Housatonic Community College
Dennis J. Bogusky, President, Federation of Technical College Teachers, AFT #1942
Dr. John S. Christie, Capital Community College
Dr. Francis Coan, Faculty Advisory Committee Representative, Tunxis Community College
Saulo Colon, Housatonic Community College
Terrence Delaney, Three Rivers Community College
Dr. Lauren Doninger, Gateway Community College
Seth Freeman, Capital Community College
Dr. Diba Khan-Bureau, Three Rivers Community College
Kevin Lamkins, Capital Community College
Joan M. Lloyd, Housatonic Community College
Ron Picard, Naugatuck Valley Community College
Minati Roychoudhuri, Capital Community College
Teresa M. Russo, Gateway Community College
Colena Sesanker, Vice Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee to the BOR, Gateway Community College
Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community College
Dr. Carmen Yiamouyiannis, Capital Community College
Robbin Zella, Housatonic Community College

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