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October 2014
Board of Regents President Gregory W. Gray Only 20% of college goers fill the stereotype of college students we experienced several years ago. Today's students are more likely to be older, part-time, working and many of our students are the first in their families to attend. For October's First Monday, I decided to give you my thoughts about the revolution we are watching unfold in American higher education. This revolution is at once quiet and earthshaking, and it has already changed the landscape in lasting and significant ways. I am also quite sure that it will continue to play out for many years to come-well beyond my tenure here, and perhaps some of yours as well.

The evidence of this revolution can be easily seen: Lower appropriations necessitated by economic realities lead to higher tuition and lower enrollment. Changing demographics also shape enrollment, as students make different, and non-traditional choices about where (and how) to pursue academics. As a result, teacher tenure is under pressure as well, as states look at the recent California ruling on tenure. And finally, as costs increase, for institutions as well as for students, compromises are forced to be made by both groups, which typically have their own far-reaching implications. It is a process that engenders a "vicious cycle" of its own, dramatically changing the direction and trajectory of our work.

Of course when these cycles begin, input from the press, the public, and other key stakeholders becomes more frenetic and pronounced, however well-meaning those stakeholders are. So it is incumbent on us, as administrators, educators and staff, to remain vigilant and laser-focused on what we do and how we do it-shaping the minds of our students; and why we do it-to continually improve learning and access to it. Transform CSCU 2020 is totally centered around the student learning experience.

True, in our case here at the BOR, the Board itself has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that we stay focused on these critically important goals, delegating the responsibility and authority to accomplish them to the person in the President's chair. This office then must delegate that authority to the administrations, faculty and staff of the 17 institutions. I never lose sight of the fact that each of you, whether in your roles as administrators, faculty or staff, are the tip of the spear-the ones that make student learning happen by delivering it to the eager minds you help shape, and by creating an environment that promotes learning in the face of the continual change we all experience in this world of higher ed.

So, as we continue to focus on our responsibilities in the coming weeks and months, when rhetoric will no doubt reach a fever pitch due to the elections and subsequent budget formulation process, it is vitally important to our students and to the future well-being of this state that we consistently and clearly articulate our focus and goals to our stakeholders. The best way to do that, of course, is with facts, not rhetoric. If we do so, we have the best chance of being in the forefront of the revolution, instead of in its dust.

And it's because of our basic belief, STUDENTS FIRST!

Gregory W. Gray
Gregory W. Gray
Board of Regents for Higher Education
Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (ConnSCU)

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