As the consolidation of CT community colleges continues, troubling developments suggest the need for legislative intervention and oversight.
Power over decision-making for Connecticut’s community colleges is now being consolidated in a system office that answers to no one.
What we see from UConn, ECSU and MCC is that as our Hispanic/Latino and Black student population increases, the utilization of part-time, non-tenure track faculty similarly increases.
August was another deeply troubling month for the system office, the Board of Regents, and “Students First.”
What might arguably be the most important moment in the long, contentious history of Students First and the Board of Regent’s controversial community college consolidation plan occurred on March 11 at a Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee meeting. State Rep. Gregory Haddad had this to say about the plan:
Now that the election is over and we have new leadership in the state, this is an ideal time to think in fresh ways about community colleges in Connecticut.
As we know, the Board of Regents is currently in the process of dismantling the community college system, replacing campus leadership with temporary “CEOs” and regional presidents, and contending against all evidence — and decades of experience across the nation — that community colleges don’t need presidents.
Now that NEASC has confirmed what most of us already knew —that the Board of Regents’ Students First proposal to consolidate the state’s community colleges was a very bad idea —we are now left with the challenge of what to do next. NEASC clearly did the right thing —saving the state of Connecticut from a deeply flawed plan that was not good for the state, not good for students, and not good for community colleges. Characterizing the plan as not “realistic,” as NEASC did, is putting it kindly. There were many things that were deeply troubling about this proposal and the way it was developed and promoted. Two stand out as particularly egregious.
It is a dark hour, indeed, right now for Connecticut community colleges. The Board of Regents (BOR) has proposed a shockingly bad reorganization plan, “Students First,” which will strip community colleges of their presidents, academic deans, and other top leadership, along with their unique identities, local traditions, and ties to local communities. This new BOR plan will transform our beloved community colleges into giant box stores. They will have plenty of merchandise, but no one around to help you find it. Be ready to wander around aimlessly asking, “Is there anyone running this place?” The answer, alas, will be “No.”
I am alarmed and shocked by the recent “Students First” proposal by the Board of Regents, which proposes to dismantle Connecticut’s community college system. This proposal is likely to go down in history as a paradigmatic case of bad management and the worst kind of public policy. It’s almost breathtaking how poorly this idea has been thought through and executed.