A last-minute boost in state funding won’t stave off a looming fiscal crisis for Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, the Board of Regents for Higher Education reported Thursday.
A controversial plan to consolidate Connecticut’s 12 community colleges into a single accredited institution would shed nearly 190 people in top administrative positions by 2021.
After completing a whirlwind town-hall tour of all 17 campuses in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, Mark Ojakian, the system’s president, was greeted by unwelcoming faculty in Hartford Thursday when he returned to meet with his governing board.
Top financial officials from Connecticut’s two major public college systems told legislators Friday that rising fringe benefit costs and mandated employee salary increases are key driving forces behind tuition hikes.
The president of the state’s largest public college system offered a particularly dismal outlook, warning the cuts could lead his system to declare its equivalent of bankruptcy.
“You can’t have a president every one or two years and expect that you’re actually going to provide the best service to students and to our state,” President Mark Ojakian said during a recent wide-ranging interview in his Hartford office. “You just can’t do that.”
Nicholas M. Donofrio is being replaced as chair of the Board of Regents by Matt Fluery, and a new provost has been named. The president of Southern Connecticut State University is departing for a post in California.
The Board of Regents is seeking cost savings from community college faculty and staff, whose response has been notably less confrontational than that of faculty at the regional Connecticut state universities when asked for givebacks last November.
The 3 to 6 percent pay raises non-unionized staff at the state’s largest public college system were expecting to receive beginning next month have been put on hold.
The state of Connecticut claims that it has a large deficit and it needs to cut the budget for higher education – mostly through cutting the number of faculty positions at the Connecticut State College and University system. However, one questions its higher education priorities.
State auditors have found that the Board of Regents’ central office did not follow several state laws created to protect the public college system from improprieties and mismanagement.
Three years after state legislators ordered the state’s largest public college system to set up a way for community college students to transfer to a regional Connecticut state university without losing credits, higher education officials report they can see the finish line.
The Board of Regents is looking to private consultants to evaluate the duties of 296 Connecticut State College and University system employees in an effort to steamline job classifications.
At many organizations, there comes a time when fundamental change is required because a “crossroads” of sorts has been reached. In business parlance this is sometimes referred to as the “burning platform.” CSCU has reached such a point in time where all stakeholders must come together and agree that “business as usual” is no longer an option.
During a budget crunch It’s easy to blame administrative bloat and the regional office for a college system’s ills, but can we afford independent college infrastructures or do we need a system or regional infrastructure to provide economies of scale? How important is local decision-making and in particular academic control? How do we maximize teaching resources when current funding is simply not sufficient to meet both student demand and overall organizational operating needs?