The president of the Connecticut State College and University system is recommending the consolidation of administrative personnel across the 17 colleges and universities, including an operational consolidation at the 12 community colleges to help meet serious budgetary challenges.
In a letter released Monday to the CSCU community, Mark Ojakian said it has become abundantly clear the system's operational costs are outpacing revenues, "creating a true structural deficit."
Ojakian is scheduled to present his consolidation plan Thursday to the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education.
State funding to the system has declined 12.4 percent in recent years.
Ojakian described the proposed consolidation as necessary for the system of 17 institutions to remain, “viable.”
The number of job losses isn’t et known, as Ojakian pointed out that the Board of Regents would have to come up with a formal consolidation plan.
He says he did seriously consider the possibility of closing campuses, but that later came off the table as an option.
"One only needs to look at a map of Connecticut and put the community colleges on that map in a ten mile radius and the overlap is really incredible,” Ojakian said of how close some campuses are to each other. “Instead of proposing closing a campus or closing multiple campuses, I felt it was important to keep access available to students, especially those students who have trouble with transportation anyways and instead consolidate administration across all 12 community colleges."
As for what a consolidation would look like for the state’s community college campuses, Ojakian said he’s not sure the solution would simply be to operate them from the system’s central office in Hartford.
“We have to do what makes sense, “ he said.
As for the message he’s looking to send to lawmakers, taxpayers, students, and parents, he says he wants to let them know he’s trying to be a good steward of their money.
Ojakian has spent time touring the campuses and meeting with students and says he’s heard their concerns. In addition, Ojakian said he feels an obligation to be the most efficient, because for the second straight year, tuition has been proposed to be increased.
"What I heard was, we need our services reinstated. We need our libraries not to close during the week or our campuses not to close on weekends, right? So this was an attempt to try to be responsive to those needs."