BOR Appoints Interim College Leadership Team, Takes Significant Steps in Student First Plan

The new interim team has already begun work to prepare the future college for opening

The Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) today appointed Dr. David Levinson as interim president of Connecticut State Community College. Dr. Levinson served as president of Norwalk Community College and vice president for community colleges for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), until his retirement in 2019. For the past year, he has been presidential fellow for the CSCU system. He previously served as a member of the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

“It is a transformative time for higher education in Connecticut,” Dr. Levinson said. “Especially at our community colleges, we are restructuring so that we can take advantage of research-based student success strategies that have recently emerged. By merging our 12 individual schools into a single institution, Connecticut State Community College will be one of the largest community colleges in the country, with a steadfast focus on student success and equity. I am excited to take on this interim role, and look forward to working with a talented team on getting the new college up and running.”

In addition to Dr. Levinson’s appointment, CSCU President Mark Ojakian announced to the BOR that he has named several members of Connecticut State Community College’s interim senior team. The following individuals were appointed:

  • Dr. Michael Rooke, president of Northwestern Connecticut Community College, will become interim provost of Connecticut State Community College in addition to his current role.
  • Kerry Kelley, fiscal and program policy section director at the Office of Policy and Management, will become interim chief financial officer of Connecticut State Community College.
  • Dr. Tanya Millner, interim CEO at Manchester Community College, will become interim associate vice president for teaching and learning.
  • Dr. Francine Rosselli-Navarra will become interim associate vice president of programs and curriculum.
  • Michael Stefanowicz will become interim associate vice president of higher education transition.

In close collaboration with Dr. Alison Buckley, Connecticut State Community College’s vice president for enrollment management, the new interim team has already begun work to prepare the future college for opening, at which point CSCU will begin the search process to fill the positions on a permanent basis.

“Under Dr. Levinson’s leadership, the interim Connecticut State Community College team is a smart and hardworking group of individuals, all of whom are deeply committed to the pillars of Students First – equity, student success, and financial stability,” said President Ojakian. “Each of these appointments is necessary for the accreditation of the college. It marks real progress toward meeting the standards of our accreditor and meeting the needs of the students we serve.” 

“These are major actions by the Board,” said BOR Chair Matt Fleury. “Thanks in large part to President Ojakian, Provost Gates, and the team at CSCU, we remain in a good position to complete the transition to the one college by our target date of 2023. This is more important than ever. The Covid-19 crisis and its economic fallout has not only created new stressors on institutional budgets, it has also created a tremendous need for high quality, affordable public higher education. By improving student outcomes, reducing costs, and maintaining access, Students First will help us serve our students and our communities more effectively.”

The BOR also officially adopted Connecticut State Community College as the name of the merged institution. Last week, the Executive Committee moved the name forward for the full board’s consideration. The board noted that CSCU will seek significant input from students and faculty in the process of determining the colloquial name or abbreviation that will be commonly used to identify the college, establishing what each individual campus will be called, and developing brand materials.

“Connecticut State Community College represents a clear new direction for a new institution,” President Ojakian added. “This name signifies the stature of the future college – one statewide institution, which will be one of the largest in the country with 80,000 students and prestigious degrees in hundreds of academic programs. At the same time, it continues to showcase the strong community connections that make our community colleges great.” 

Finally, the BOR adopted a general education core curriculum for the single college. A core component of Students First includes the alignment of college curricula statewide, including adoption of a statewide general education curriculum. The general education core lays the foundation for all of the curriculum alignment work that is underway and will be completed for the future college. The alignment is not only required by accreditation standards, it is an important part of the student success efforts under Students First. Once all curricula are aligned, students can begin any course of study at their home campus without having to worry about going through the hassle of transferring to another college and having to take additional classes to complete their general education requirement.

“General Education is the core of the undergraduate curriculum for all students, regardless of major,” Dr. Jane Gates, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at CSCU. “It contributes to the distinctiveness of college-educated adults; and guarantees that all college graduates have a broad, balanced education.”

Earlier in the meeting, the BOR appointed five permanent campus chief executive officers to oversee day-to-day operations at Capital Community College, Gateway Community College, Housatonic Community College, Manchester Community College, and Middlesex Community College.

For more information

For more information, please contact Leigh Appleby, Director of Communications at 860-723-0617, applebyl@ct.edu