The wrong response to the budget crisis, and a whole lot of nerve

Four of the state’s 12 community colleges: Manchester Community College, top left; Gateway Community College, bottom left; Quinebaug Valley Community College, top right; and Tunxis Community College.

CSCU President Ojakian and the Board of Regents for Higher Education would rather plunder the community college system’s scarce reserves than stop wasting money on Connecticut State Community College managers.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCUs) are reporting a significant budget shortfall of $69 million due to the COVID pandemic and declining enrollment for the 2020-2021 academic year. Nearly A shortfall of $16 million attacks community colleges.

In recent media and board meetings, CSCU President Mark Ojakian and CSCU Chief Financial Officer Ben Barnes criticized community college faculty and staff for not being good partners with the board. to save money. President Ojakian and CFO Barnes say the community college staff and faculty are neither helpful nor serious about filling the budget gap.

Thousands of faculty and staff shake their heads.

President Ojakian and the Board of Trustees – through their media and political hacking – waged a campaign to destroy Connecticut’s 12 community colleges, remake them in their image, and form the hegemonic Connecticut State Community College, or One College. .

In dismantling our community-centered institutions for their One College, CSCU President Ojakian and the Board of Trustees spared nothing. They have grossly exaggerated potential savings, lied about staff and faculty involvement and support for their plan, savagely trampled on the higher education principle of shared governance, emasculated local college administrators, and generally penalized, marginalized or ignored anyone with the audacity to challenge them. .

But even worse, Ojakian and the Board of Regents are hurting our current students – Connecticut’s largest minority and underserved student population. Our current students are seeing their services cut, while Ojakian and the Board of Regents raise more and more money for themselves and a college that doesn’t exist.

Astute observers will recall that is why community college faculty and staff voted No confidence in President Ojakian and the Board of Regents last year in 2019.

So after being lied to, maligned and belittled for over three years, and having this fraudulent and unnecessary consolidation that hurts our students shoved down our throats, it’s mind-boggling and the epitome of hypocrisy, to hear President Ojakian say community college faculty and staff are not good partners.

Worse, says President Ojakian, because community college staff and faculty aren’t good partners and aren’t stepping up, the only options for this fiscal crisis are a state bailout or a plunder of meager reserves. community college budgets.

Yet another lie.

Thousands of staff and faculty are shaking their heads again.

President Ojakian and the board also have the option to stop hiring One College managers and staff.

While all 12 community colleges have implemented a hiring freeze as well as budget cuts that require us to reduce services to our current students, the Board of Regents is increasing spending for One College and is actively hiring at this time. Chairman Ojakian and the board knew there would be a budget shortfall since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. What did they do as good shepherds of CT taxpayers’ money? They have hired, and still plan to hire, over $10 million of One College managers.

Unfortunately, there is a very sad truth laid bare.

President Ojakian, CFO Ben Barnes, and the Board of Trustees don’t care about helping current community colleges support the success of our current students.

They care about spending on themselves – on their managers and bureaucracy – to advance their “Students First” agenda which is everything but put students first.

What are the thousands of teachers and staff saying?

Wrong answer.

Signed by:

Lois Aime, Norwalk Community College
Waynette Arnum, Capital Community College
Dennis Bogusky, Norwalk Community College
Patty Burke, Manchester Community College
Maureen Chalmers, North West Community College
Mike Cifferelli, Gateway Community College
Francis Coan, Tunxis Community College
John Christie, Capital Community College
Lauren Doninger, Gateway Community College
Renae Edge, Norwalk Community College
Seth Freeman, Capital Community College
Elizabeth Keefe, Gateway Community College
Diba Khan-Office, Three Rivers Community College
Charles Knurek, Asnuntuck Community College
Stephen Krevisky, Middlesex Community College
Kevin Lamkins, Capital Community College
Lillian Maisfehlt, Gateway Community College
Catherine Milton, Norwalk Community College
John McNamara, Capital Community College
Ronald Picard, Naugatuck Valley Community College
Elizabeth Pisaretz, Norwalk Community College
Minati Roychoudhuri, Capital Community College
Eileen Russo, Gateway Community College
Colena Sesanker, Gateway Community College
Kevin Skee, Manchester Community College
Susan Spencer, Gateway Community College
Carl Stafford, Manchester Community College
Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community College
Sally Terrell, Tunis Community College
Trenton Wright, Middlesex Community College
Carmen Yiamouyiannis, Capital Community College

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