Mark E. Ojakian became President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system in September 2015. He oversees a system with 17 institutions serving over 92,000 students offering over 1,300 degree and certificate programs. Ninety six percent of the CSCU students are Connecticut residents.
His primary objective is to provide the system with strong leadership resulting in much needed stability across the 17 institutions and to raise awareness of the critical role that the system plays not only related to student success but to the vitality of Connecticut’s economy and businesses.
Prior to his current appointment, he served as Chief of Staff to Governor Dannel P. Malloy for four years. In that position, he oversaw the day to day operations of state government, including oversight of the Emergency Operations Center during times of natural disasters — which included blizzards, hurricanes and tropical storms — and tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. President Ojakian was one of the architects of the original consolidation of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.
Among his many accomplishments in that position, Mark led the Malloy administration’s successful efforts to invest in transportation, reform primary and secondary education, raise the minimum wage, enact paid sick leave, and enable personal care assistants, paraprofessionals and graduate students to collectively bargain. He was also involved in economic development activities ranging from providing new resources to small businesses to negotiating a deal with United Technologies Corporation to recommit to their presence in Connecticut and to rebuild their research and development and engineering facilities.
Before joining Governor Malloy’s office, he served as Deputy Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM). At OPM, he was the administration’s lead negotiator in the Statewide Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) negotiations designed to produce substantial savings for the State of Connecticut over the next 20 years. This contract redefined the state’s relationship with its employees. In addition, he served as chair of a statewide task force on technical education.
For 16 years, President Ojakian was also Deputy Comptroller under former State Comptroller Nancy Wyman. In that position, he oversaw the development and implementation of the CORE-CT statewide ERP system. Prior to his position as Deputy Comptroller, President Ojakian served as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner at the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. He spent six years in that role, advising on higher education policy and legislative matters.
In addition, he has served on a variety of boards and commissions, and has been an integral part of several large public policy initiatives, including programs that ensure medical coverage to uninsured children and extended affordable insurance coverage to municipalities, not-for-profit organizations and small businesses.
He has served as chair of the Hartford Housing Authority Board and president of the Love Makes a Family Board of Directors during the successful fight for marriage equality. In addition, he has served as a board member of the Tennis Foundation of Connecticut, GLAD and True Colors. President Ojakian is also a board member for life at the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
President Ojakian received many awards including the Multiple Sclerosis Hope Award and Man of the Year Award. He was also named Leukemia Society Man of the Year and received the 2015 Political Achievement Award from the Connecticut Building Trades Association.
President Ojakian received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1975, and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the American University in Washington, DC, in 1977. He lives with his husband Jason Veretto in West Hartford. He has two children, Brandon and Kyle, and two grandchildren, Connor and Madison.