March 22, former Chief of Staff to Gov. Dannel Malloy and current Board of Regents President Mark E. Ojakian stated, “I have consistently said I am not going balance the state’s financial burden on the back of our students.” March 23, he is asking for a painful 5 percent increase in tuition costs for the 88,000 students in two and four year programs at State Universities and Community Colleges.
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 Mirror’s recent article on CSCU President Mark Ojakian portrayed him as a good listener, a mediator, a reasonable man, and a really nice guy. But the warm feelings engendered by the Mirror’s puff piece should not be allowed to obscure the fact that the contract proposals put forward by his Board of Regents are nothing short of a scorched-earth attack on the faculty of Connecticut’s four state universities and the students they serve.
Many assumed the next president of the Connecticut State College and University System would have an extensive background in education. Some are disappointed with the recent news, but, the appointment of the Gov. Dannel Malloy’s chief of staff as interim president for the Connecticut State College and University System has nothing to do with education. My read of the tea leaves is that the appointment is based upon the primary strength of the appointee which is collective bargaining experience and budget and finance expertise.
Some would argue that the CSCU system has already exhausted a first and second chance to overcome the mistakes it made since its formation four years ago. But what if the CSCU System was given a fresh start, with new leadership? Would its governing officials learn and not repeat the past mistakes?