New Plan for Consolidating Conn. Community Colleges

June 19, 2018

The Connecticut State Colleges & Universities Board of Regents will hear a revised plan Thursday for how the system plans to save money and consolidate the state's 12 community colleges.

In a letter to the system, President Mark Ojakian wrote that the revised plan extends the timeline for a single accredited community college to 2023 and maintains the current department chair structure as a way to gradually transition away from 12 separate colleges. The previous proposal would have shrunk the community college side of the system from 12 presidents to one vice chancellor, and 36 administrative positions would be reduced to 16. It also would eliminate campus financial and academic officers. Each of the community colleges would have been operated by a vice president and clustered into three groups led by a regional president. The original plan was expected to save the system $23 million.

The new plan is estimated to save $17 million. It would also create three regional president positions to be filled in 2019 but maintain the current 12 chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chief academic officer positions at each of the colleges.

The proposal also includes implementing guided pathways, centralizing shared services and hiring for new positions to help raise new money for the system.

"We will implement the immediate next steps of regionalizing the college structure, selecting new leadership, integrating and centralizing administrative functions, implementing Guided Pathways and aligning curriculum statewide," Ojakian said in the letter. "We will keep NEASC staff apprised of our efforts and invite them to attend future [Board of Regents] Academic and Student Affairs committee meetings so that we may discuss our progress and prepare for the single accreditation process."

Ojakian and the system's administration were forced to revise the consolidation plan after the system's accreditor, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, warned that the proposal would be rejected. Since NEASC's warnings, a few of the state's colleges and university faculty leaders have called for an end to the plan and for Ojakian and the board's departure for proposing it.

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