Put students first: Close the CSCU system, disband the Board of Regents

The “Students First” plan proposed by the CSCU Board of Regents, intended to save $28 million by consolidating the state’s 12 community colleges, has engendered frustration among system faculty due to the lack of visible research or analysis proving that the plan will realize the projected savings. Faculty, therefore, were taken by surprise when a recent CT Mirror article reported that the accrediting agency, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, had given feedback on a draft plan for the Students First initiative submitted to it by the Board of Regents. 

Deeply flawed community college consolidation must be slowed down

The Board of Regents for Higher Education meets today to consider a consolidation of state community colleges. Since April, the deeply flawed proposal by state colleges and universities system president Mark Ojakian has been moving at warp speed, often under the radar. The board must slow it down. If not, the legislature must step in; should it too default, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the accrediting entity, must withhold its approval.

‘Students First’ or Obfuscation Inc.?

In 2011, a Board of Regents for Public Higher Education (BOR) was created to supposedly save money through centralization of functions and to assure smooth student transition from community colleges to universities. But students were deceived about the transfer process as smooth transfers can be achieved without this centralized boondoggle. Since 2011, after five presidents, all there is to show is nearly quarter billion taxpayer dollars wasted on a bloated central bureaucracy with 150 employees at an annual cost of $35 million, and several failed proposals to merge the community colleges and the state universities with reassuring names such as Transform 2020, Go Back to Get Ahead, and the current plan, Students First.

One statewide community college: A bargain we can’t afford

The state’s Board of Regents Dec. 14 will vote on a restructuring recommendation by Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian to fold the state’s 12 community colleges into one. The recommendation, which has been opposed by the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges and other organizations, purports to save some $28 million by eliminating duplication of services within the system … while, as a BOR slogan says, putting “Students First.” In reality, the plan places finances first and students as also-rans. For this reason, we at the 4Cs encourage BOR members to reject the recommended proposal.

In Connecticut it’s time to adopt a community college

It is a dark hour, indeed, right now for Connecticut community colleges. The Board of Regents (BOR) has proposed a shockingly bad reorganization plan, “Students First,” which will strip community colleges of their presidents, academic deans, and other top leadership, along with their unique identities, local traditions, and ties to local communities. This new BOR plan will transform our beloved community colleges into giant box stores. They will have plenty of merchandise, but no one around to help you find it. Be ready to wander around aimlessly asking, “Is there anyone running this place?” The answer, alas, will be “No.”

Puerto Rico: Helping part of the USA, and part of Connecticut’s family

Connecticut is home to the largest proportion of Puerto Ricans in the continental United States, so it is expected that we will see one of the largest influxes of U.S. citizens coming from Puerto Rico to the mainland. Although it’s difficult to estimate the exact number of new arrivals, the state has received over 700 calls from people displaced from the Island and who need help.

University Of Hartford President: ‘Racism in America is right here on our campus’

The following is a letter to the alumni of the University of Hartford written by President Gregory S. Woodward.

Dear University of Hartford Alumni,

A student at the University of Hartford was recently the victim of some reprehensible acts by another student. This has been deeply upsetting to me and to the entire University of Hartford community. While the University is limited in our ability to legally answer many of the questions raised, we are working diligently to provide details and action steps surrounding this situation. …

College students should be protesting new federal tax bill

Undergraduate and graduate students across Connecticut and the country should be marching in protest against the proposed new tax bill that will repeal numerous education deductions and credits and will tax graduate students. We need our next generation to be educated — not kept out of all educational opportunities as this proposal surely will cause. This proposed bill makes taxable the value of the tuition and other benefits universities give to their graduate teaching and research assistants. Ditto for education benefits offered by employers to their workers.

How dogs and cats can get their day in court

In 2016, the FBI started to track animal cruelty, including neglect, torture and sexual abuse, because of disturbing connections.
“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” said John Thompson, the deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.”
In response to longstanding failures to aggressively prosecute and sentence perpetrators of animal cruelty, I developed a way for lawyers and law students to advocate for animal victims. I believe this approach can solve the problem of under-enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and achieve justice for animals.

In undertaking tax reform, lawmakers must prioritize college affordability

As student debt mounts nationally, with the $1.4 trillion in U.S. student loans now surpassing credit card debt, it’s critical to ensure Connecticut parents and students have smart college financing options. A little-known mechanism — tax-exempt Qualified Student Loan Bonds — provides Connecticut families an important pathway to finance their college dreams.

But as Congressional leaders tackle tax reform this fall, that tool could be on the chopping block.

Making the same case for community colleges — proudly

During my nearly 40-year association with higher education, I have made the same equity case about the value of community colleges. Their history is rooted in the public good. Their mission embraces the community. Their vision points to a stronger future. Their core values demand respect. They are the embodiment of the Civil Rights Movement. They are splendid institutions.