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.
At many organizations, there comes a time when fundamental change is required because a “crossroads” of sorts has been reached. In business parlance this is sometimes referred to as the “burning platform.” CSCU has reached such a point in time where all stakeholders must come together and agree that “business as usual” is no longer an option.
During a budget crunch It’s easy to blame administrative bloat and the regional office for a college system’s ills, but can we afford independent college infrastructures or do we need a system or regional infrastructure to provide economies of scale? How important is local decision-making and in particular academic control? How do we maximize teaching resources when current funding is simply not sufficient to meet both student demand and overall organizational operating needs?
The potential closing of Middlesex Community College’s Meriden Center is terrible news. Nevertheless, there is one very good thing that has come from the decision to close the campus: attention. Ultimately, the conversation that needs to happen is not about the Meriden Center; rather, it is about the necessity — and obligation — to properly manage and adequately fund Connecticut’s state colleges and universities.
However well-meaning CSCU President Gregory Gray’ appears, it doesn’t change the most important dynamic that impacts funding for higher education in the state: legislators don’t trust the Board of Regents for Higher Education that Gray heads and are leery of giving more money to a central office that can’t seem to do anything other than increase administrative costs, grow an already bloated management core, raise tuition rates, and continually demonstrate the debilitating results of bureaucratic paralysis.
More online instruction is a poor replacement for college classes staffed by caring faculty members. If that’s what it has in mind, Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education should rethink its plan for transforming the Connecticut State College and University system.