Almost since its inception in 1965, the main campus in Storrs, Connecticut, has sought to shut down the Torrington Campus of the University of Connecticut. Through the years unsupported and disparaging comments from those same faraway administrators would filter back that somehow the University branch system did not measure up to the academic standards of the main campus in Storrs. Then, suddenly in early March, the people in the Northwestern Connecticut were given a few weeks to react to the impending permanent closing of the Torrington Branch, forestalling any attempt to honestly and fairly discuss and dissent from this decision.
The annual college student recruitment cycle is a spectacle. Colleges jockey for attention each spring by attempting to position themselves as the best: the most elite, the most recognized, with the best faculty, academic programs, and prolific intercollegiate athletic programs. The superlatives are effusive. Institutions spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on glossy marketing publications, pumping money and verbiage into social media, blogs, scheduling costly special events, passing out promotional items that showcase residence halls, dining commons, labs and clinics, and classrooms. And sometimes these glossy tomes mention the achievements of their faculty.
Connecticut State College and University System (ConnSCU) President Mark Ojakian’s decision to increase tuition at our community colleges and state universities is a slap in the face to people who are going to college on a budget. What’s worse is that he made the announcement in the middle of the system’s spring break. Ojakian knows that if the tuition increase is announced while class is in session, students would hear about it and action will be taken almost immediately by students and the faculty unions.
If you owned your own restaurant and wanted to create some new signature meals to attract new patrons and increase your competitiveness, how would you feel if you had to wait for state government officials to review your suggested dishes, taste those recipes and approve their preparation before you could offer them to customers? To make matters worse, what if that process could take a year or more and, meanwhile, up the street and in surrounding towns, other restaurants were not restricted from changing up their menus as and when they saw fit? For many of Connecticut’s private non-profit universities and colleges, this hypothetical example of unnecessary government oversight is analogous to a program-development challenge we are facing.
Many of the richest universities in the country, sitting on billions of dollars in tax exempt endowments, receive through the tax laws government subsidies that greatly eclipse the appropriations received by public colleges. Hidden tax subsidies that increase inequality are not good policy. In contrast, Senate Bill 413 is reasonable in scope, fair in its goals, and represents advancement well within the current public policy thrust aiming to reassess the tax codes to help address America’s need for an educated citizenry and a qualified workforce.
Three Rivers Community College consulted with the wrong constituents for terminating its Civil Engineering Tech program. Architects and construction managers (wrong industry) were consulted to terminate CET, not civil engineers and surveyors (correct industry).
The reported expulsion of a former Yale men’s basketball captain for alleged sexual misconduct that he disputes — and the team’s apology as teammates balance personal loyalty with support for “a healthy, safe and respectful campus climate”— can raise awareness at universities and beyond.
The staunch advocates for public higher education and stewards of the state’s future – UConn-AAUP- should have a strong role in influencing university decisions that impact the common and public good.
Unfortunately we have witnessed exclusionary praxis from the UConn administration in recent months – dismissing the role of UConn-AAUP and leaving them out of vital decision-making. If this pattern continues where educators don’t have a voice in student learning conditions, scholarly work, or university direction, then the quality of education at the University of Connecticut will suffer immensely.
The state of Connecticut claims that it has a large deficit and it needs to cut the budget for higher education – mostly through cutting the number of faculty positions at the Connecticut State College and University system. However, one questions its higher education priorities.
Local town and gown committees might be interested to know that Connecticut college students don’t drink as much as people think they do — or even as much as they, themselves, think they do. Both the community at large and the students themselves have misconceptions about how much students drink.
Last Thursday, this year’s President of the Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education, Mark Ojakian, hurried past a large group of AAUP protesters outside of his scheduled Board of Regents meeting at the old Phoenix Insurance building on Woodland Street in Hartford. It probably never occurred to this right-hand man of the governor that he was presented with a rare opportunity. In Ojakian’s defense, his boss probably would not have seized the opportunity either.
The University of Connecticut administration attribute the need for another tuition increase to labor contracts with university faculty. This is not the case. We agree with the administration that declines in state appropriations are a primary cause of the UConn budget shortfall, but there is little evidence to support the claim that faculty salaries and benefits alone are driving up expenses.