CT College Faculty Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Leaders, Consolidation Plan

By Kathleen Megan, CTMirrororg | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), May 15, 2019 | Go to article overview

CT College Faculty Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Leaders, Consolidation Plan


Kathleen Megan, CTMirrororg, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


Dismayed by leadership of the Connecticut State Colleges and University system and a plan to consolidate the 12 community colleges, faculty at five community colleges and two state universities have taken votes of no confidence in President Mark Ojakian, the Board of Regents, and the plan itself.

Carmen Yiamouyiannis, chairwoman of the Capital Community College College Senate, which includes faculty and staff, said CSCU leadership has pursued a “top down approach that seems to disregard faculty. It’s ‘this is what we’re going to do’ instead of really trying to engage the faculty.”

The consolidation plan, which is known as “Students First,” has some aspects that Yiamouyiannis thinks would be helpful, including a single application for all 12 colleges and centralizing certain services. But like other faculty, she is concerned that a merger would strip the colleges of their individuality.

Francis M. Coan, a faculty member at Tunxis Community College, said faculty there are poised to vote on a ‘no confidence’ resolution this week.

“It’s clear the leadership is not listening to the professionals,” he said. “We don’t know what action to take except to speak a little louder.”

Two months ago, faculty and students held a news conference at the Legislative Office Building and marched a petition with more than 1,300 signatures over to Gov. Ned Lamont’s office in hopes of meeting with the governor. So far, that hasn’t happened and several faculty said they want to know what the governor thinks about Students First.

Lamont’s spokeswoman Maribel La Luz issued a statement Tuesday saying the governor “supports the common sense goals behind Students First, which include centralizing back office functions, making it easier for students to transfer within the college system and allocating more resources into teaching and learning where they belong.

“He also understands the merger is a complex issue that people on both sides feel strongly about, but our primary focus must remain on the students,” LaLuz added.

Coan said he’d like to see the Students First plan scrapped and have faculty and administrators come up with a new plan to address the budget constraints that prompted the creation of the original plan.

Several faculty who voted no confidence also said they want Ojakian removed from office and the entire Board of Regents replaced with new members.

Leigh Appleby, spokesman for the CSCU system, which includes four regional state universities in addition to the community colleges, said the vote of no confidence is not a surprise.

“We understand that change can be difficult, but Students First is a necessary step forward,” Appleby said. “As it stands, the three year completion rate is just 16 percent at our [community] colleges. We have an obligation to do better.”

He said the Students First plan reallocates administrative resources “toward data driven, proven student success initiatives.”

The plan will also help address the system’s financial issues, which he noted is “on the verge of insolvency.”

“Students First, by consolidating some redundant functions, saves $23 million per year and puts the system on much firmer financial footing,” Appleby said. “Most importantly, it does this while allowing all of our current community college campuses to remain open and fully operational.”

Appleby said implementation of Students First has been “collaborative and transparent” and has included “more than 400 individuals across all campuses participating in working groups.”

“Over the past two years, we have heard constant opposition from the same groups,” Appleby said. “What we haven’t heard from them is an alternative plan.”

Diba Khan-Bureau, a faculty member at Three Rivers Community College, said she was insulted by Appleby’s comment about change being difficult. “They think we are babies and children and we can’t handle change,” Khan-Bureau said. “I find that revolting. …

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