Connecticut Post, Published 03:05 p.m., Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Agreement reached on higher education consolidation
Linda Conner Lambeck, Staff Writer

HARTFORD -- Higher education officials have reached an agreement that will allow Gov. Dannel P. Malloy 's proposed consolidation of the administrations of the state's community colleges, Connecticut State University  system and Charter Oak College .

The deal has been in the works since a budget agreement was reached last week and will head to the legislature for a vote.

"In the end, it's the students who win -- by flattening out administration costs and overhead, we can direct more money to our students and classroom instruction," said Mark Ojakian , deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management ." In addition, this proposal will help make these schools more functional to those who attend them."

State Rep. Roberta B. Willis , chairman of the legislature's Higher Education committee  said she has been assured that her concerns about the proposed merger will be addressed.
"My concerns from the beginning have been the need to maintain the distinctiveness and uniqueness of mission of the colleges, particularly the community colleges," Willis said. "They serve a critical and defined need in our communities, one that must be maintained even as we seek efficiencies and savings. I have been assured that these concerns will be met through this plan."

Others are not convinced.
Housatonic Community College President Anita Gliniecki  is still hopeful lawmakers can be convinced to vote the plan down. "There are so many other issues facing community colleges. Without a plan in place other than it shall occur on July 1 there are so many details that need to be determined. The time is much too short to address the issues that need to be addressed."
Gliniecki is uncertain who will handle the college's financial aid and IT firewalls.

"We receive several things from the system office. Will that still be available to us?" she wondered.

The agreement's main points include the following:

  • The creation of a Board of Regents for the four CSU colleges, the community-technical colleges and Charter Oak effective July 1, 2011.
  • The creation of an advisory commission to the Board of Regents which will be charged with, among other things, working with the board to create and implement a strategic plan for higher education that will include the University of Connecticut .
  • The Constituent Units -- the community colleges, regional universities and Charter Oak -- will remain separate with distinct missions. Each unit will have a lead individual designated by the Board of Regents.