Ojakian and the Board of Regents: The wrong answer to the budget crisis, and a lot of nerve
CSCU President Ojakian and the Board of Regents for Higher Education would rather raid the scarce community college system reserves than cease wasting money on managers for the Connecticut State Community College.
The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) report a significant $69 million budget shortfall due to the COVID pandemic and decreased enrollment for the 2020-2021 academic year. A roughly $16 million dollar shortfall besets the community colleges.
In recent media outlets and Board of Regents meetings, CSCU President Mark Ojakian and CSCU Chief Financial Officer Ben Barnes have blamed the community college faculty and staff for not being good partners with the Board to find cost savings. President Ojakian and CFO Barnes say the community college staff and faculty are not helpful or serious about addressing the budget shortfall.
Thousands of faculty and staff are shaking their heads.
President Ojakian and the Board — through their media and political hackery — have led a campaign to destroy the 12 Connecticut community colleges, remake them into their image, and form the hegemonic Connecticut State Community College, or One College.
In dismantling our community-centered institutions for their One College, CSCU President Ojakian and the Board have spared nothing. They grossly exaggerated the potential cost savings, lied about staff and faculty participation and support for their plan, savagely trampled on the higher education principle of shared governance, emasculated local college administrators, and generally penalized, marginalized or ignored anyone with the audacity to challenge them.
But even worse, Ojakian and the Board of Regents are hurting our current students — the largest population of minority and underserved students in Connecticut. Our current students are having their services cut, while Ojakian and the Board of Regents horde more and more money for themselves and a college that does not exist.
Astute observers will recall this is why community college faculty and staff voted No Confidence in President Ojakian and the Board of Regents just last year in 2019.
So, after being lied about, maligned and belittled for over three years, and having this fraudulent and wasteful consolidation that is hurting our students shoved down our throats, it is mind-boggling and the epitome of hypocrisy, to hear President Ojakian say community college faculty and staff are not being good partners.
Even worse, President Ojakian says because community college staff and faculty are not being good partners and stepping up to the plate, the only options for this budget crisis are a state bailout or to raid the slender community college budget reserves.
Yet another lie.
Thousands of staff and faculty are shaking their heads again.
President Ojakian and the Board of Regents also have the option to stop hiring One College managers and staff.
While all 12 community colleges have a hiring freeze in place along with budget cuts that require us to cut services to our current students, the Board of Regents is increasing spending on the One College and are actively hiring right now. President Ojakian and the Board have known there would be a budget shortfall since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. What have they done as good shepherds of the CT taxpayers’ money? They have hired, and still plan to hire, over $10 million worth of One College managers.
Unfortunately, there is a very sad truth laid bare.
President Ojakian, CFO Ben Barnes, and the Board of Regents do not care about helping the current community colleges support the success of our current students.
They care about spending on themselves – on their managers and their bureaucracy – to further their “Students First” agenda that is anything but putting students first.
What say the thousands of faculty and staff?
Lois Aime, Norwalk Community College
Waynette Arnum, Capital Community College
Dennis Bogusky, Norwalk Community College
Patty Burke, Manchester Community College
Maureen Chalmers, Northwestern Community College
Mike Cifferelli, Gateway Community College
Francis Coan, Tunxis Community College
John Christie, Capital Community College
Lauren Doninger, Gateway Community College
Renae Edge, Norwalk Community College
Seth Freeman, Capital Community College
Elizabeth Keefe, Gateway Community College
Diba Khan-Bureau, Three Rivers Community College
Charles Knurek, Asnuntuck Community College
Stephen Krevisky, Middlesex Community College
Kevin Lamkins, Capital Community College
Lillian Maisfehlt, Gateway Community College
Catherine Milton, Norwalk Community College
John McNamara, Capital Community College
Ronald Picard, Naugatuck Valley Community College
Elizabeth Pisaretz, Norwalk Community College
Minati Roychoudhuri, Capital Community College
Eileen Russo, Gateway Community College
Colena Sesanker, Gateway Community College
Kevin Skee, Manchester Community College
Susan Spencer, Gateway Community College
Carl Stafford, Manchester Community College
Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community College
Sally Terrell, Tunis Community College
Trenton Wright, Middlesex Community College
Carmen Yiamouyiannis, Capital Community College
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