From President Ojakian

February 21, 2019

Dear CSCU Community,

This morning, I provided the Board of Regents with an update on the Students First initiative, and I wanted to do the same for the entire CSCU community.

As you may recall, the plan involves two specific administrative strategies. The first being the development of a single administrative infrastructure to eliminate redundant functions system-wide and provide shared services to all colleges and universities. The second is the consolidation of the community colleges into one centrally-managed college with campuses remaining open at all current locations statewide.  It is important to note that Students First continues to move forward on both fronts with completion anticipated by 2023.  

A number of activities have taken place to begin the implementation of the first strategy.

  1. The VP of Purchasing, Janel Wright, started with the system in January.  This is a new position created to enhance our purchasing power and improve our processes. Janel comes to us with a great deal of relevant experience. She has already introduced a number of key initiatives devoted to simplifying administrative functions, and is adept employing data analytics to drive improvements. This position was created with an overall goal of reducing spending in non-fixed costs by 4% or $1.8 million by Fiscal Year 2022. 
  2. We also planned for reductions in facilities overtime.  We’ll be working with campus administrative leadership on protocols to better control these rates for future budget cycles, with a goal of saving $2.4 million by 2020.
  3. We have already cut a number of costs through personnel reductions at system office and IT operating cost reductions from across the 17 schools totaling over $1 million.  An additional $560,000 is expected in reductions in IT operating costs by 2021 across the system.

A great deal has taken place to begin the implementation of the second strategy in consultation with the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

  1. The new VP of Enrollment Management starts on March 4.  Dr. Alison Buckley brings over 15 years of experience in both the college and university settings in enrollment management, marketing, recruitment, and program and budget management. Dr. Buckley currently serves as Associate VP for Enrollment Services at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. During her tenure, Howard has been consistently recognized for best practices in the field of enrollment management and has had the strongest enrollment among Maryland’s community colleges.  
  2. The search for three Regional Presidents is underway with semi-finalists being selected and interviewed.  Regional forums with finalists are planned for mid-March through early April with recommendations to the Board for hire at their April 18 meeting.  This process is engaging 3 Regional Advisory Committees constituted of faculty, staff, and foundation representatives.
  3. We are starting the process of consolidation of key administrative functions including Institutional Research and Information Technology, with changes in duties and reporting lines scheduled for July 1.  These changes focus on centralization of common tasks across all 12 campuses with individual staff on the campuses devoted to more local needs. 
  4. Lastly, where there has been attrition of staff in administrative positions that are slated for change under the Students First plan, campuses are posting new positions that will operate under the future single college.  For instance, if a Dean of Administration has departed, the college has in some cases changed that position to an Associate Dean of Campus Operations (Capital and Northwestern) which will have a different role given the centralization of administrative functions and shared services.  In addition, where Presidents have retired or left, they have been replaced by Interim Campus CEOs who have similar responsibilities but reduced salary.  These permanent positions will be posted starting in the fall with active involvement of the new Regional Presidents in those searches.  There are currently three Campus CEOs (Manchester, Capital and Middlesex) with one additional coming on board in July with the retirement of Dr. David Levinson at Norwalk Community College. 

Our projections show a savings of $11 million through administrative consolidations affecting all 17 schools and $23 million in savings with the move into a single college. We will have a full update at the end of the fiscal year, but we are currently outperforming our approved budget (though still in the red) due in no small part to the continued “soft” hiring freeze and lower salaries for most newly-hired staff.   

In addition, there are a number of academic related changes underway at the community colleges that will help ensure the future single college meets the needs of all students.

  1. The Students First ASA Consolidation committee met a number of times in Spring and Fall semester.  Guidelines for program alignment were developed, and the charge of the committee was clarified.  Workgroups with elected faculty representation have been formed for governance and general education workgroups.
  2. The general education workgroup, made up primarily of faculty, has developed a 21 credit core curriculum for the one college.  This has gone through a campus comment period, has been revised based upon faculty feedback, and is now being aligned with the Transfer and Articulation (TAP) framework.  A final proposal will be sent to each campus for an endorsement vote.
  3. The shared governance workgroup has begun to meet to look at the governance structure of the future single college.  The group consists of 12 faculty and staff members elected by their campuses, and 6 members of the Consolidation Committee.  The group has been charged with developing a statewide senate and curriculum committee as part of the new governance structure.
  4. The Student Success Center's Guided Pathways Task Force currently oversees nine committees that have been charged by Provost Jane Gates. These committees, which are led by faculty and staff from the CSCU community colleges, comprise more than 250 faculty, staff, administrators, and students.
    1. One of these teams, Choice Architecture, which is led by two faculty members, finalized and unanimously approved a proposal to establish six "Areas of Study" (also known as "Meta-majors") which will simplify the way in which program options are presented to students, leading to a more informed decision making process. This proposal is expected to the Academic and Student Affairs committee of the BOR later this semester.
    2. Another team of faculty and staff, the First Year Experience committee, has been working for a year with national experts to develop a course entitled "College and Career Success 101," which is intended to be a required course for most students enrolled at the singly-accredited community college. One of the outcomes of this three-credit course is that each student will be led through a process to develop an individualized academic plan which can then be monitored by professional advisors and faculty.
    3. The most recently charged committee is Alignment and Completion of Math and English (ACME). This group will include more than 100 members from the CSCU colleges and universities as well as representatives from UConn. Jobs for the Future is providing funding so that the Dana Center of UT Austin, who are national leaders of mathematics and English redesign, will advise ACME as they reconsider both developmental and college-level policy and practice.
    4. Finally, the next step in Guided Pathways as we move toward consolidation is the establishment of local teams on campuses to enact policy and other recommendations that are made by these nine teams. The Student Success Center will oversee a CSCU partnership with Achieving the Dream to establish Campus Student Success Teams at all twelve colleges as of July 1. College administrators will be forming these campus teams this spring with the goal of ensuring that campuses are empowered to enact unified policy and practice in a way that fits with local campus needs and identity.

Students First, coupled with student success initiatives already underway, is a critical step not just to create efficiencies and save money, but also to ensuring that we do everything in our power to help our students succeed in college and fill the jobs of the 21st century.

I look forward to sharing updates as we continue important work this spring. 

Past Letters

June 18, 2018

Dear CSCU Community:

This week the Board of Regents will convene to discuss among other things, our proposed revisions to our Students First consolidation plan. In keeping with the promise to keep you informed, I am sharing our recommendation to the Board in advance of the meeting. I encourage all of you to review the Staff Report (pdf) that will be discussed in detail during the Board meeting on Thursday.

After the NEASC response to our Students First proposal in April, members of the Board and my leadership staff have taken a number of steps to determine our path forward. First, we met with Dr. Barbara Brittingham from NEASC to review the Commission’s response. At Dr. Brittingham’s suggestion, we also met with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) who assisted NEASC in reviewing our original proposal. They helped to identify ways to progress towards a more efficient organization while adhering to the BOR’s objectives of sustainable, quality, accessible public higher education, consistent with NEASC standards. CSCU college faculty, staff, and the Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) also offered suggestions for reaching the goals of removing barriers to student success, scaling best practices, streamlining administrative tasks, and aligning common procedures.

As a result, we are revising our Students First plan in three significant ways: extend our timeline for the single accredited community college to 2023 thereby keeping the 12 accreditations of the colleges, develop a more gradually paced academic planning and transition process, and maintain the current department chair structure. The revised plan is estimated to save $17M when fully implemented versus the $23M as originally proposed. Our revised plan also includes:

  • Regionalizing our community colleges and creating a new leadership structure. We will hire three Regional Presidents in spring 2019, while maintaining the 12 college-based CEO, CFO, and CAO positions per NEASC
  • Aligning college curricula statewide to support high quality educational programs and seamless transfer, including adoption of a statewide general education curriculum.
  • Implementing initiatives such as guided pathways to improve and increase student enrollment, retention, and completion.
  • Integrating administrative functions into centralized shared services.
  • Sharing resources across campuses to stabilize critical college functions, reduce redundancies, and leverage
  • Hiring a number of positions to raise additional income for the system including a VP of Enrollment Management and a CSCU Development

Our goal remains the same, to create a dynamic community college focused on helping students attain their individual educational goals, and responds to community and state needs. We also recognize that more time is needed to get the foundation in place for a change as large as this.

Beginning this fall, as directed by the Board, we will implement the immediate next steps of regionalizing the college structure, selecting new leadership, integrating and centralizing administrative functions, implementing Guided Pathways and aligning curriculum statewide. CSCU will establish metrics to document the results of regional reorganization, administrative integration, and academic and student affairs planning, to help identify areas for continued improvement. We will keep NEASC staff apprised of our efforts and invite them to attend future BOR Academic and Student Affairs  committee meetings so that we may discuss our progress and prepare for the single accreditation process.

I want to thank everyone for their engagement in this important work, particularly those who are planning this summer for the Guided Pathways initiative. I will continue to provide updates on the progress and challenges related to implementation and new opportunities for our students and our colleges.

May 4, 2018

Dear CSCU Community:

Today, the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents reviewed progress on Students First and our on-going discussions with NEASC, our accrediting authority. Our goal has been and continues to be to protect and enhance the high quality, affordable education we offer Connecticut students.  By necessity, there was no plan labeled “do nothing”, or “wait for things to get better”. The plan we settled on, comprising an administrative consolidation of the community colleges and the reorganizing of various college and university functions across the system, remains the right idea: Reduce management cost; protect and improve student services; contain tuition, and preserve locations.

Our discussions with NEASC this week have been informative and productive.  Contrary to some interpretations of NEASC’s response last week, our respected accreditors did not reject our vision. The Commission has not said “no” to our proposal to form a single community college. NEASC, like us, is contending with uncharted territory amid changing conditions that challenge institutions, including accreditors.

We are working to identify ways to meet our goals and address student needs while coming to terms with our fiscal conditions. While they remain the worst-case outcomes we strive to avoid, shutting locations and dramatically raising tuition can be avoided, and must be avoided. By working with NEASC, our partners in government, and being open to improvements in our own thinking, it will be avoided.

We want to thank the Board of Regents and all the faculty and staff who have sent their recommendations and offered their support as we move forward. We are working with legislators in hopes of securing funding to stabilize the colleges’ budget in the short term to mitigate cuts that will negatively impact students.

We will have more information at next week’s Board of Regents meeting on May 10th and will continue to provide email updates as things progress.


Mark Ojakian,
President, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities 

Matt Fleury,
Chairman, Connecticut Board of Regents

April 24, 2018

Dear CSCU Community,

First, we want to give our sincerest thank you to everyone who has worked tirelessly over the last year on the development of our Students First Plan. The countless hours and hours spent compiling data, constructing and editing this bold plan of action to protect and preserve our students’ future is not lost on anyone. It meant time spent away from your daily responsibilities of serving CSCU students.

Students First was created to avert a major crisis for our institutions and our students. Today, NEASC has issued a response to our Students First consolidation plan. It is not the decision that is best for our students, nor is it the decision for which we had hoped. This decision by NEASC is devastating to our ability to hold the line on tuition and keep all campuses open. In the face of an on-going fiscal emergency, it forces us to consider options that we have strongly fought against because it will harm the 50,000 students who rely on their campuses and their campus communities.

Since April of 2017, NEASC has guided us and included in that guidance was the recommendation that CSCU submit a “substantive change” document for review and approval. Given that NEASC has voiced concern about our institutions’ sustainability, and is fully aware that they cannot financially survive in their current structure on their own, we followed their advice every step along the way. While we expected further guidance, we did not expect NEASC to redirect us to consider “candidacy for accreditation”, a new process that will take another 5 years. The problems that our institutions and students face cannot wait 5 years. In 5 years, our institutions will be financially insolvent.

In the coming days we will review all of our options including legislative and accrediting options, a review of tuition rates, and the closing of one or more of our campuses. 

Attached is the response from NEASC.  We will keep you informed as we move forward.



CSCU President Mark Ojakian
Chairman Matt Fleury, Board of Regents

NEASC Response (pdf)

March 19, 2018

Good morning,

On behalf of the Board of Regents, last Friday we submitted a Substantive Change request seeking approval from the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) to consolidate our 12 accredited Connecticut community colleges into a one accredited College with 12 campuses. The document includes details on the consolidated organizational structure and integrated administrative functions and outlines our vision for an academically integrated institution. It preserves our core values which are to provide Connecticut students with an affordable, accessible, high quality education that meets their personal goals and the workforce needs of our communities and state. 

The full document can be found at   The request will be on the Commission’s April agenda.

This was an enormous team effort and we’ve appreciated all of your support through this year long planning process.   There is a lot of work to do going forward to make this plan a reality and I thank you in advance for your efforts.

Mark E. Ojakian

March 9, 2018

Dear All,

Today, the Board of Regents unanimously voted to approve our Students First substantive change document that outlines the structural changes needed for the consolidation of our community colleges into one College. The next step is submission to NEASC on March 16, 2018. We did receive lots of good feedback from the Board and the Academic Affairs committee that we will include prior to the deadline. 

Once the document is submitted to NEASC, we expect a response sometime in April.  The current draft along with all the appendices are available for review at any time on our Students First page  -   These materials will be updated after our submission of the final document to NEASC and we will provides updates as we have them on the process. 

Once again, I want to thank everyone who had a hand in this effort to date.  In particular, I look forward to working with the Academic and Student Affairs Consolidation Committee and the Faculty and Student Advisory Committees as our planning continues in the coming months.   Your time, energy, feedback, and commitment is critical to our success.

Mark E. Ojakian

March 2, 2018

Dear CSCU community,

Yesterday we provided our Board of Regents with a draft of the substantive change document we are preparing for submission to NEASC to consolidate our 12 community colleges into one College.  This bold, unprecedented structural change is outlined in the narrative and appendices you can find on our Students First page   

I truly appreciate everyone who has contributed over the last year to the planning process including those of you who have served or are now serving on committees, those who participated at our many town hall meetings, and those who responded to our surveys and spoke during Board meetings with comments and critiques.

I understand that this change affects all of us but particularly our students. This proposal describes ways in which this new College will address current challenges and improve opportunities for students while streamlining administrative functions to the benefit of all campuses.

The Board will review these materials in preparation for a special Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting on March 5th and their full Board meeting on March 8th.  With their feedback and approval we’ll finalize the document and submit to NEASC by the March 16th deadline for their review.

We have lots of work yet to do to make this vision a reality but I am confident we are on our way!

Mark E. Ojakian

Dec 8, 2017

Dear CSCU Community,

I am pleased to announce the formation of the Students First Academic and Student Affairs Consolidation Committee.   The next phase of Students First planning requires the development of a plan to bring into alignment twelve campuses into a single accredited community college with clear, consistent practices, policies and procedures that provide a seamless transition for students while maintaining the uniqueness, identity and community connections of each campus. An initial action for the committee is to develop the mission statement for the one community college.

I have charged this committee with the responsibility to work out the details associated with the one community college consolidation related to academic and student affairs on the twelve community colleges. Specifically, the committee will provide guidance on the alignment of academic programs (shared and differentiated), assessment, policies, procedures, institutional data, websites, catalogs and other relevant issues to campus constituents.

The invited committee members include:

Del Cummings, FAC (NVCC)

Robert Brown, FAC (TxCC)

Judy Wallace, FAC (MXCC)

Lynn Roller, FAC (GCC)

T.J. Barber, FAC (MCC)

Hector Navarro, SAC (NVCC)

Holly Palmer, SAC (COSC)

Doris Arrington, (CCC)

Duncan Harris, (MCC)

Frederick Douglass Knowles, (TRCC)

Teresa Foley, (ACC)

Alfred Williams, (QVCC)

Sheila Solernou, (GCC)

Kristina Testa-Buzzee, (NCC)

Shirley Adams, (COSC)

Robin Avant, (HCC)

Alese Mulvihill (HCC)

Eileen Rhodes (CCC)

Vicki Bozzuto, (GCC)

Ellen Peltier, (ACC & TxCC)

Gennaro DeAngelis, (ACC &TXCC)

Greg DeSantis, (SO-Student Success Center)

Nancy Melnicsak, (SO)

Steven McDowell, (SO-Enrollment)

Ken Klucznik, (SO-TAP)

Candace Barrington, (SO-TAP)


I am also pleased to announce the appointments of Dr. Patricia Bouffard and Dean Michael Stefanowicz to the CSCU System Office to lead this effort.  Dr. Patricia Bouffard and Dean Michael Stefanowicz will serve as co-chairs to the Students First Academic and Student Affairs Consolidation Committee for the community colleges effective January 5, 2018.  The co-chairs will report to Dr. Jane Gates, CSCU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.

Patricia Bouffard, D.N.Sc., M.S., B.S.N., will serve as the Students First Academic Program Director.  Dr. Bouffard currently holds the position of Dean of Academic and Student Affairs at Northwestern Connecticut Community College (NWCCC) since July, 2009.

Dr. Bouffard has extensive experience over a 20 year period in management in community colleges. Prior to her appointment at NWCCC she held management positions in Academic Affairs at Naugatuck Valley Community College and Mattatuck Community College.  She has managed a wide variety of academic and student affairs services including hiring recommendations for faculty and professional staff, curriculum development of new programs, certificates and courses; program and discipline reviews, program inventory.  She has served on the strategic planning steering committee, held oversight of national accreditation preparation including New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Early Childhood Education, Medical Assisting, Nursing and Veterinary Technology; and supervised catalog review and budgets.  Dr. Bouffard supervised the Learning Resource Center, Academic Skills Center, Distance Learning Director, chaired the college Institutional Research Board (IRB), oversaw the college approval for dual enrollment and managed counseling and student activities.

Michael Stefanowicz, M. Ed., B.A., will serve as the Interim CSCU Associate Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.  Michael Stefanowicz holds the positon of Dean of Academics/Chief Academic Officer at Asnuntuck Community College’s since January 2015.    In September 2017, Dean Stefanowicz was appointed to a dual role as Dean of Academic Affairs at Tunxis Community College. Mr. Stefanowicz brings 20 years of community college experience. Prior to joining Asnuntuck, he worked in various roles at Manchester Community College, serving as Division Director for Liberal Arts, Director of Transitional Programs, Coordinator of Advising, and as a Counselor.

In his current role, Dean Stefanowicz supervises full and part-time faculty and three department chairs, along with other employees and directors from the academic division at ACC.  At Tunxis Community College, he oversees Academic Affairs, Counseling/Advising and Media Instructional Technology.   During his tenure as Academic Dean, he has co-chaired the NEASC 10 year accreditation visit and self-study process, currently serves as co-chair of the PA 12-40 Developmental Education system-wide committee, serves on the Center for Teaching Steering Committee, and is a member of the CSCU Complete College America leadership team and the Guided Pathways Task Force.  Dean Stefanowicz has overseen the program “normalization” of Asnuntuck’s Associate Degrees and Certificates, co-led the launch of the Second Chance Pell certificate offerings at the Connecticut correctional institutions, converted the Registered Medical Assistant program from credit-free to credit, and has managed various program reviews, modifications, and terminations.  Dean Stefanowicz has taught at ACC, MCC, and Holyoke Community College, and is a member of the Enfield Adult Education Advisory Board.

I hope you will join me in supporting the important work of this group as we continue with our Students First planning.


Dec 4, 2017

Dear CSCU Community,

As you know, Students First includes a strategy endorsed by the Board of Regents to consolidate our 12 community colleges into one centrally managed institution with local campuses.  Since early spring, we have been sharing information and collecting input on the consolidation proposal with community college presidents, faculty, staff, students and community leaders.  I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has engaged in this process and hope you will continue to participate in committees, meetings and discussions as we move forward. 

In addition to the April town halls on all 12 campuses and the November webinars we held for college faculty, staff, and students, we’ve met with: the Faculty and Student Advisory Committees to engage their members in discussions on academic and student affairs; campus registrars and continuing education professionals to hear their feedback on the proposed structure; college foundations to address their questions and concerns about local identity and fundraising; chambers of commerce and other workforce related groups to solicit their support for a regional approach; and legislative leaders to gather their suggestions on the future of the colleges.   These discussions have improved the consolidation proposal and will greatly enrich the implementation.  

In addition, staff has been working to document the estimated savings for the community college consolidation, which was targeted at $28M. On December 6, the Board of Regent’s Finance Committee will review the preliminary fiscal analysis. Materials for that meeting have been posted to the CSCU website and are available here on page 11 .

Our planning is all the more urgent as state funding continues to decline in the current fiscal year. This is a harsh reminder of the reality that our system is facing and another indication that our current system is unsustainable. If we don’t implement the proposal, the colleges will be in a deficit position by 2020 and more than $100M in the red by 2022.

Slowing the consolidation only worsens our fiscal circumstances.  We need to find savings quickly in order to stop the erosion of student services and the colleges’ limited reserves.   If we do not implement our plan, we would be faced considering significant tuition increases.   I will not put the burden of balancing our budget on our students when there are other options before us.

There must be a new model for our colleges that cuts administrative spending and prioritizes our limited resources on academic programs and student supports.  The proposed new organizational structure consolidates administrative functions, promotes greater coordination across campuses, focuses spending on teaching and learning and allows us to keep all of our campuses open. 

Our staff and faculty have the passion, skills, and commitment to transform our institutions into one that preserves academic excellence and prepares our students for the competitive workforce that awaits them.  Moving forward, our community colleges will play an even bigger role in higher education and preparing students to pursue their dreams and careers.   That’s why this restructuring is so critical to the future of our students, our institutions and our state. 

I look forward to continue working with all of you as we make this plan a reality.



Mark E. Ojakian, President

CT State Colleges and Universities (CSCU)

Nov 19, 2017

Dear CSCU community,

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Student First webinars.  As promised, attached are answers to questions that were submitted but not addressed during the sessions.  The FAQ document also will be posted on our website by the end of the day Monday. 

You can watch the sessions at any time on our Students First page: 

Thank you again for your suggestions, questions and constructive feedback.  


Nov 6, 2017

Good morning!

We are looking forward to our Students First forum Tuesday from 12-2pm with faculty and staff and on Wednesday from 11:00am-12:30pm with students to discuss the community college consolidation proposal.

Thanks to the IT and public information staff serving as leads for each campus, we hope to have as many participants as possible from all 12 campuses. Each college will be live streaming both forums on campus - check with your campus leaders for the exact room. As part of the two-hour session, every college will have an opportunity to submit questions via the chat function on Web Ex.

For those who attend the forum in person at Capital Community College, you'll have an opportunity to submit questions on cards but because of the technology set up for the session, no questions will be asked directly by the audience.

We will get to as many questions on a range of topics as possible during the session including addressing some that have already been submitted in advance through this email or the survey.  If any questions go unaddressed, we will update our FAQ document and distribute shortly after the forum.

We are very appreciative of the survey responses we've received to date and encourage you to complete the survey after the forum to provide additional feedback.

Thank you for your engagement and support! 

Oct 17, 2017

Dear CSCU Community, 

When we launched Students First back in April, it was with the goal of strengthening our ability to provide students with a high quality, affordable, and accessible post-secondary education that enables them to achieve their life and career goals. We did this in the context of a growing structural deficit, declining state support, and recognition that our system is unsustainable in both the short and long term without real structural change. None of this has changed over the last six months and, in fact, fiscal challenges have become more pressing.

Despite these challenges, planning has continued. Our Students First teams have identified recommendations to put us on a viable path forward, help us to meet our savings targets over time, and in some cases, increase revenue for the CSCU system. We are providing the Board of Regents with an update during the October 19, 2017 meeting and want to share our progress with the greater CSCU community.

This summer over 100 CSCU faculty and staff engaged in the design and planning of the two Students First strategies endorsed and approved by the Board of Regents:

  • Strategy 1: a single administrative infrastructure to eliminate redundant functions system wide and provide shared services to all universities and colleges
  • Strategy 2: one centrally managed community college with campuses statewide

 Led by a system office or campus leader, the functional area teams included subject matter experts from across the system. In support of shared governance, members, either elected or nominated by their campus leadership groups representing faculty, professional staff and other campus employees, were integral members of the planning teams. 

 All recommendations were required to meet our guiding principles:   

  • Ensure students are at the center of all decisions
  • Prioritize teaching, learning, and high quality academic programming
  • Preserve and enhance student support services
  • Safeguard educational access and affordability
  • Be conscientious stewards of the students' and state's investments in our institutions 

Strategy 1: A Single Administrative Infrastructure

For the first strategy, teams identified a sustainable administrative structure in the areas of Facilities Management, Financial Aid, Fiscal Affairs, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Institutional Research. These strategies wherever possible included all 17 institutions and system office; however, given the current centralization of our community college enterprise systems, more opportunities for efficiency can be identified at the community colleges, which share one platform.  We fully intend to reach our original plan for targeted savings though the timeline may take longer and alternative strategies may be necessary. 

The Students First Planning Teams drafted reports in their respective areas of focus outlining in detail many strategies, reporting structures, and best practices that promote shared services and collaboration among all of our institutions. The process to develop the proposals extended over several months, not only for the?thoughtful development of ideas, but also in respect to shared governance--where?each stakeholder could participate and return to their agency and deliberate as the process unfolded.? 

These reports, reviewed by our Students First Steering Committee, are now ready for public comment. I encourage everyone to read the reports as well as the summary presentation prepared for the Board of Regents meeting on October 19, 2017 that are hosted on our website at   

Some notable system wide recommendations from the first strategy include activities that increase opportunities for students to fund their education and promote services that increase financial literacy. To meet the goal of safeguarding affordability, the Financial Aid Team recommended creation of a system-wide financial literacy initiative to provide personal finance workshops and directly advise students and their families on money management, paying for college, personal budgeting and loan repayment. This effort can help address the issue of growing student debt and help families to make informed decisions about managing the cost of education.   

The Fiscal Affairs Team recommends the creation of shared services for all 17 colleges and universities in areas such as purchasing and contracts. This will allow CSCU to take advantage of our collective volume in negotiating the best prices for non-academic goods and services and streamlining the contracting process for our institutions.   

Additionally, our Human Resources and Institutional Research Teams recommend new models for shared services with a new reporting structure designed to leverage system wide expertise. The teams recommend the creation of centers of expertise in topics such as benefits and labor relations in the human resources area and data analytics and assessment in the institutional research area. This use of staff and resources can improve not only our strategic human resources management but also our reporting both to external stakeholders such as the state legislature and to our institutions to assess their effectiveness.   

The above recommendations are just a few examples of the cooperation and creative thinking we have witnessed throughout the summer that make our CSCU system great. We put faculty and staff experts together to solve our challenges. They leveraged our collective size and scale to find efficiencies across our system; all with the goal of improving our administrative practices so that critical resources can be devoted to student teaching and learning. Only a few of these recommendations will require policy changes by the Board of Regents. The majority of the administrative recommendations can be implemented as soon as time and resources are available to complete. 

Strategy 2: One Centrally Managed Community College

For the second strategy, a community college consolidation team made up of presidents, academic deans, and deans of students and administration developed a new organizational structure for a single accredited community college. The proposed structure includes one community college, with regional management and twelve campuses. This structure keeps open all of our existing campuses and satellites. Colleges are organized under three regions to create efficiencies, promote consistency across regions, build upon strong relationships across campuses, and align resources such as academic programs, student services, and enrollment. This new structure seeks to eliminate duplication and allow for implementation of services wherever most appropriate--at the campus, regional, new institutional level. 

The presentation prepared for the Board of Regents, as well as a frequently asked questions document on the community college consolidation are also available on our website at  

In order to meet NEASC requirements for accreditation, new institutional leadership positions of Vice Chancellor for the Community College, Chief Academic Officer and a Chief Financial Officer are included in the organizational structure. Each campus would be led by a Vice President with responsibility for local campus operations, delivery of academic and student programs and services, and community relations. This ensures that we maintain the local identity and community connection of each campus. As we developed this proposal over the summer, we communicated regularly with NEASC to seek their guidance and are invited to bring forward a substantive change to the Commission in the spring.  

Benefits of a single community college for students are vast. The new structure eliminates many barriers to success and degree completion that currently exist. For example, students will be able to register and take classes easily at multiple campuses without needing to transfer credits back and forth and all courses will count towards the student’s GPA as well as their degree. This allows students the opportunity to pursue academic fields based on their interest and schedule rather than geography, and to transfer seamlessly to both in-state and out-of-state universities. The proposed structure significantly reduces management at the colleges while maintaining critical resources for students at the campus level. In particular, it calls for an increased focus on enrollment management, advising and retention to maximize the impact of our guided pathways initiative.   

This proposal is the first phase of planning for the single college. We will be developing a process to align curriculum across the 12 campuses with broad faculty participation. Initial work in this area has already begun with a group of community college representatives from the Faculty Advisory Committee who have drafted a proposed shared governance curriculum review structure. Their input has been essential in getting this conversation started, and much more will be done in the months ahead leveraging faculty efforts and experiences such as TAP, our coordinated college-wide nursing program, and other innovative models.   

By re-examining our administrative functions and establishing a single community college for the state, we can eliminate unnecessary duplication of efforts, find efficiencies through scale and shared resources, remove obstacles to students' academic progress, integrate best practices in student support, increase access to unique programs, facilitate seamless transfers, and ensure all students' career readiness.   

Both the administrative and community college consolidation recommendations require us to embrace change and new ways of doing our work together. The strategies combined provide a targeted savings of $41M and as I said earlier, we fully intend to reach those goals though it may take us longer than planned to reach them.  Those who have labored this summer to design these recommendations have seen the promise of these improvements for our system and our students.  

We are now ready for input from the broader CSCU community and have created a survey to capture direct feedback at In addition, we will host discussions, particularly with community college students, faculty, and staff about these proposals in the coming weeks. The planning teams will review input and make adjustments to their recommendations if needed and the Students First Steering Committee will conduct a last review as well before submission of final recommendations to the Board of Regents at their December 14, 2017 meeting.

Again, I want to thank all the CSCU faculty, staff, and college and university presidents who worked tirelessly this summer to prepare these recommendations. I am confident with their best thinking, your input and our collective energy we can place our system on a sustainable path forward that strengthens the high quality, affordable and accessible education our colleges and universities provide to students.  


Mark E. Ojakian, President
onnecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU)

May 17, 2017

Dear CSCU Community,

The Students First planning process is now underway! The administrative consolidation planning teams will begin their work immediately and I look forward to engaging in their discussions throughout the summer.

The six administrative teams have been assembled with representatives selected by the collective bargaining units and constituent unit leadership groups as well as faculty and staff volunteers and subject matter experts from the campuses and System Office. We anticipate additional individuals may be added to the teams as the work progresses to add expertise. The charge to each team is to identify a sustainable structure for providing these services to the campuses while leveraging and optimizing both human and financial resources.

In addition to the six administrative teams, a community college consolidation team, led by President Michael Rooke from Northwestern CT Community College and comprised of the twelve community college presidents has been formed to propose a new structure under one centrally managed college. A subcommittee of the presidents and deans of administration and academic and student affairs will fine tune the model to ensure it both meets the needs of individual campuses as well as NEASC and other professional program accrediting bodies.

I am happy to share the webpage that we've created to house the information on the planning process. You will find the listing of the administrative planning team members as well as members of the Steering Committee, Community College Consolidation committee and subcommittee. I am working with the Student Advisory Committee to identify students to participate in this effort as well.

As the teams conduct their work, notes from their meetings will be posted to the site as well as all messages I send out about the process. You will also find a FAQ on this page and links to videos from some of the town hall meetings.

Though the teams couldn't accommodate all who were interested, I want to thank all of you who volunteered and I continue to welcome your thoughts and ideas by email to Additionally I will provide an opportunity for system-wide feedback on the draft recommendations before they are presented to the Board of Regents so that all who are interested can weigh in their suggestions and concerns.

Again thank you all for your engagement in this process. I am confident together we can keep students first.

May 10, 2017

Dear CSCU community,

I want to thank all of you who participated in our campus town hall meetings. It was a great opportunity to hear about your concerns and to continue to learn about the vital role that our institutions play both with our students and in our communities. I appreciate your questions, candor and offers of assistance. In the next week you will receive a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to share responses to your many questions as well as an update on the membership of the planning teams and the timeline for getting the work started.

Again, thank you for welcoming me to your campuses. I encourage you to continue sending you good ideas to this address. I am confident that together we can move our system forward.

Mark E. Ojakian

April 24, 2017

Dear CSCU community,

I am writing today to provide a brief update on the Students First planning process. We are busy forming teams in six key areas to design and implement the administrative consolidation strategy. Many of you have reached out to volunteer and the Community College Governance Assembly and labor unions representing the community colleges, SUOAF and the CSU Faculty Leadership Group are identifying representatives to serve in addition to subject matter experts from the campuses and system office. We will make an announcement on the teams in early May after all the recommendations have been received.

In addition, I mentioned that I would be forming a Steering Committee to join me in reviewing all recommendations and savings projections from the teams. I am pleased to report that the following individuals have agreed to serve on the Steering Committee:

  • President Joe Bertolino, Southern CT State University
  • President Zulma Toro, Central CT State University
  • President Jim Lombella, Asnuntuck Community College
  • President Paul Broadie, Housatonic Community College
  • Holly Palmer, BOR Student Advisory Committee Chair
  • Dan Barrett, Western CT State University, Faculty Senate Chair
  • Michael Buccilli, Gateway Community College, Director of Counseling and Student Services

Lastly, I am pleased to announce that President Mike Rooke has agreed to lead the effort on the community college consolidation strategy working closely with the presidents and management of the colleges. That work is getting underway as we speak and there will be future opportunities for campus community feedback into that planning process as well.

I hope to see many of you at the upcoming Town Halls. The input we've received from the 6 sessions held to date has been very helpful and we look forward to hearing your ideas about how to make our system the best it can be.


April 13, 2017

Dear CSCU Community,

Last week I recommended to the Board of Regents two management strategies to help address our system's fiscal challenges. One strategy is consolidation of administrative functions and the other is an organizational consolidation for our community colleges. The Board approved both strategies along with the savings target for each. These strategies are intended to deal with our structural deficit which only increases in the next few years and threatens the affordability and accessibility of our institutions.

As I've learned from my first Town Hall meetings, there is significant uncertainty and some confusion about the strategies. So first, I would like to provide some clarification. The consolidation will integrate administrative, not instructional or student support, functions across all institutions as well as the system office to eliminate redundancies and ultimately run more efficiently. The target savings of this recommended strategy is approximately $13 million. The second approved strategy is an operational consolidation of leadership and management of our 12 community colleges. The savings target for this recommendation is approximately $28 million. To be clear, reductions in faculty and staff that directly serve students are not included in either of these strategies and no campuses or student support or academic programs are being closed.

I believe these strategies support our common goal of providing our students with the high quality learning experience they need and deserve. It is a critical step to putting our system on a sustainable and predictable path forward and ultimately enhances teaching, learning and the high quality academic programs we provide our students.

Now our attention turns to the important work of finalizing the design of "Students First" and initiating its implementation. To move forward with these strategies, I am establishing implementation teams for specific administrative areas: Fiscal Affairs, Facilities, Human Resources, Information Technology, Institutional Research, and Financial Aid Processing. Shortly I will be announcing the creation of a separate implementation team to address the community college management consolidation.

Each team will be led by a system office manager in the selected functional area with teams made up of subject matter experts from the campuses. In addition, members, either elected or nominated representing the faculty, professional staff and other campus employees, will be invited to participate.

The teams will be charged to assess the current organizational structure, inventory campus activities, ascertain staff skills available through the system, identify technology supports needed to facilitate streamlining of processes, and document opportunities to integrate functions. I will establish a Steering Committee representing college and university presidents to join me in reviewing all recommendations and savings projections from the teams.

The process for each implementation team will be shared on this website including:

  • written documents that include the charge, meeting procedures, and schedule,
  • list of members,
  • meeting times, dates and locations, and;
  • meeting minutes.

Individuals are encouraged to provide their suggestions to Your input as CSCU community members will be critical to designing this plan and helping to move the system forward.

The work of each team will start immediately with members identified and recommended to my office and meetings starting in April. An implementation framework and timeline will be presented to the Board of Regents by their June meeting so we will be working as quickly as possible to get each team established.

As I said in my open letter to the CSCU community last week, building a sustainable organizational model will be a monumental task, but a critical one for our system's future. But we must act now in order to thrive in the future.

Thank you in advance for your hard work and support. Together we can give our institutions the opportunity to grow and be even greater than they are today with a stable financial future.


Mark E. Ojakian Signature
Mark E. Ojakian


Download FAQ 1 (pdf) Download FAQ 2 (pdf)

New Leadership Structure & Staffing

Does the consolidation add layers of management?

To achieve accreditation with NEASC as one institution, we had to create some positions that do not exist now.  So instead of 12 presidents, one per campus, there is one new position, CEO/Vice Chancellor for the community college, that is required under NEASC standard 3.11. Similarly, a Chief Financial Officer and Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer positions are needed to comply with NEASC standards for a single institution.  While there appears to be additional layers of regional and central management in this new structure, the overall headcount across the system will be reduced. Over time, by encouraging campuses to work together and shifting decision making to the regional or institutional level, we expect to need fewer management than we have now at the campus level.

Are we going to be able to share resources among colleges? Will shared positions be across regions or system-wide?

Sharing financial and staff resources are primary goals of the Student First proposal.  Campuses do collaborate now on an ad hoc basis, but not in a coordinated or strategic way.  Over time, position responsibilities will be expanded to hire people to span regions or centrally for the entire college. Through the experiences at Gateway/Housatonic and Asnuntuck/Tunxis this summer, we realized that collaborations and shared savings are achieved when working together. 

What administrative decisions, including the budget, will be made locally and which will be made regionally or system wide? Will the Campus Vice President have the authority to determine local faculty/staff hires or will this be done by the Regional President?

The new Chief Financial Officer will establish the system budget and allocate resources to the regions.  Budgets will be managed by the Regional Presidents, who will work with the campuses to adjust for specific budget needs.  Campus Vice Presidents will manage local hiring.

Why not have four Regional Presidents and eliminate the Campus Vice Presidents?

Having four regions was one of many options considered, but was later reduced to three regions given the small size of our state.  Each campus needs someone managing day-to-day activities, making hiring decisions locally and advocating for the campus. In addition, campus leaders play an important role in the community, serving on local boards, raising funds and ensuring that the campus programs prepare students for careers needed by the community.  Based on feedback received through the public comment period, we are revisiting these roles. 

What is the role of directors of finance positions and purchasing office staff across all the campuses? What is the new organizational structure for IT departments?

The specific details for finance, budgeting and purchasing are outlined in the Fiscal Affairs section of the Students First website at  IT staff will remain on campus to provide support for both educational and operational activities.  Current staff can apply to serve in centralized or regional roles that span multiple campuses.   

What is the role of an enrollment specialist? Will admissions be staffed locally?

A national trend in higher education recruitment and admissions is to cross-train staff in all aspects of on-boarding students. Enrollment Specialists should assist students with everything they need, including applying to the college, seeking financial aid and even selecting classes.  This will serve students better than sending them to three separate departments.  The Enrollment Specialist will be on-campus but knowledgeable about programs throughout the CSCU system so students get a more comprehensive picture of what to study and how to be successful.

Will department chairs and division directors be replaced by associate deans? How will you ensure parity in workload and responsibilities within these roles across campuses? Who will have oversight over tenure and promotion?

This is still being resolved. Currently, we have three categories of academic leadership among the 12 campuses: department chairs, division directors and associate deans.  Our goal is to create a common position that works best for our students, faculty and campuses, but it will clearly take time to work through.  We will strive to ensure parity in responsibilities as these positions are reviewed. Tenure and promotion procedures are outlined in the collective bargaining agreement, and involve the relevant supervisor in the case of tenure, and the dean in the case of promotion.  These procedures, including the relevant tenure and promotion committees, will continue regardless of the title of the supervisor of the faculty and staff.

What is the role of the new college system office staff?

Many services handled at the campuses, such as financial aid processing, budgeting and finance will be consolidated to the single college level. The staff at the CSCU system office will continue to provide strategic direction and shared services such as human resources, legal affairs, government relations, and institutional research for all the colleges and universities.

What will be the role of the new college provost?

The Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs will be the chief academic and student affairs officer of the entire institution.  The Provost will work closely with the deans on each of the 12 campuses to manage curriculum, assessment, faculty development, student success and much more, functioning similarly to how these positions operate now.

Is there an imbalance in workload between the proposed Campus Vice President and the Vice President for Enrollment Management?

We do not believe that there is an imbalance between these positions. The Campus VP will have day-to-day accountability for a safe and productive learning environment for that campus and to maintain strong connections with the surrounding communities.  The VP for Enrollment Management will be responsible for assuring that effective enrollment management processes are streamlined across all 12 campuses, and that recruitment and enrollment of students is strong, through the regional executive directors.   

What steps are being taken to position leadership jobs in the new college as both attractive and attainable?  How will the newly created positions be filled to ensure equity and inclusion? Will the new chancellor position require higher education or public administration experience?

An open and competitive process will begin to fill key leadership roles. Staffing will primarily be done by searching among current college personnel, to identify those who have the skills and experience to move into new positions.  Search committees will be broad-based and representative of the many stakeholder groups who know the colleges and the groups we serve, including faculty, staff and students, in the new college.  Credentials required for any new positions will need to be determined as we move forward.  

Will there be opportunity for cross-training/retraining for professionals in student facing services?

Yes, for example one of the primary goals of consolidation is to have enrollment management services across multiple campuses to develop streamlined processes for marketing, recruiting, admitting and retaining students.  Staff in admissions, financial aid and registrar’s offices across all campuses will work together to create a common experience for students, no matter which campus they go to.     

How do you measure the efficacy of current staff to ensure the best client service?

A thorough review of processes will take place across all services as we move forward. Objective and subjective measures focused on job performance will guide the development of metrics to ensure best client service.  Best practices will emerge and staff will be trained to adopt those practices.

How will the consolidation plan impact adjuncts?

Adjuncts will continue to play an important role in teaching our students, supplementing the work of our full time faculty.

What plans are in place to help employees manage change and ensure the highest quality of service and support?

Change brings with it opportunities for new ideas and ways of operating. We will continue to communicate as progress is being made and provide opportunities for training and professional development for faculty and staff who take on new roles and responsibilities. 

Costs & Savings

The proposal calls for saving $28 million through the consolidation. How will this be achieved?

The target savings are expected from strategic reductions in management and other positions.  These savings can be achieved in the near term through attrition, position sharing and workforce reductions in management positions.  Additional savings will come in the later years of implementation through consolidation of non-student facing positions across campuses. 

How will resources be allocated to the campuses under the new model? Will schools with more enrollment growth get more resources?

Currently, campuses receive their share of the state block grant using a formula which takes into account FTE enrollment and a number of other factors. Any new budget formula proposed will ensure that campuses have enough resources to operate, given the declining state support. Since enrollment is a major factor in budgeting, campuses that see growth in enrollment may see more budget resources over time.

In the future, if the estimated savings are not achieved or our state support continues to get cut by the legislature, will we seek to close less financially stable colleges?
Creating a single institution is intended to alleviate the need to close any campus locations. CSCU President Ojakian has stated repeatedly that he does not want to close any campuses as this would severely inconvenience students who may not be able to access higher education without a campus in their local area.

Academic Affairs

Will campus faculty senates still exist? What is the role and membership of the broader college-wide faculty senate? What opportunities will there be for faculty to participate in campus leadership and provide input?

The primary shared governance structure envisioned, in accordance with NEASC expectations, is at the institutional level, with broad representation across all 12 campuses.  Input from the FAC has recommended that each campus have 1-2 representatives on the senate.  This group will act similarly to those on the campuses now, reviewing curriculum and providing important input into the teaching and learning on campus.  Campuses may wish to continue to provide a forum for local campus issues, but the primary governance body will be the institutional senate.  It is also very helpful to have faculty and staff assume leadership roles in the new organization.

What is going to be the process for curriculum development and how do we protect academic freedom and shared governance? Where is the cross-disciplinary aspect of curriculum review?

Curriculum development was previously done only at the individual campus level with no coordination (except in a small number of programs) of curriculum across campuses. Under Students First, faculty groups will be convened and asked to agree on curriculum for most of the system’s degree programs and certificates.  Where it makes sense, courses also will be aligned to have a common institutional syllabus with common learning outcomes, course title, course number, credits and pre-requisites.

Academic freedom is a foundational principle in higher education, and this will be preserved by giving faculty the ability to continue to teach their courses as they see fit, providing they follow the institutional syllabi agreed upon by the faculty in that discipline, and to help students attain the agreed upon learning objectives.

There will be an important shared governance process, with a faculty/staff senate representative of all 12 campuses, as well as a representative curriculum committee to review all programs and courses.  As envisioned, proposals will go from the faculty disciplinary groups to the curriculum committee and simultaneously to the campuses for feedback.  Both of these latter groups will allow for review by cross-discipline faculty and staff.

What process will ensure prerequisites are the same across the system?

Faculty will continue to lead the curriculum and program development process.  We expect faculty in each discipline or program to come up with common institutional courses, wherever appropriate, that have a common syllabus containing the learning outcomes, title, number and pre-requisite across all 12 campuses. How faculty choose to teach that course will be in their discretion in accordance with principles of academic freedom.  Campuses will be able to maintain their unique accredited programs but students who qualify can potentially enroll statewide rather than only on that campus as in the past.  

Will faculty be involuntarily moved from one campus to another?

Any faculty relocations will follow the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.

How are continuing education and workforce programs included within the new structure? How will we ensure responsiveness to local employers with a lengthy curriculum approval process?

Continuing education and workforce development programming will continue to be an active and important part of the life of the single college. Over time, it is expected that the programs and course offerings can be coordinated across the regions, ensuring that students can access the programs and courses that they need at any of the campuses.  Campuses may have developed expertise in certain programs that will continue, but recruitment and marketing of these programs could be done regionally, and avoid having campuses compete with each other for students, as sometimes happens now.

Continuing education programs typically do not go through a lengthy curriculum review process, and won’t in the future. The programs each campus offers may change over time but will always reflect the needs of the local or regional employer community. However, credit courses and programs are required to go through a governance review process by our accreditors, along with faculty oversight.  It will be important to develop a streamlined process to ensure that these go through the approval process quickly.

Student Affairs

What will the student governance structure look like?

Since the 12 campuses will become a single institution, NEASC standards expect that students will have a governance role within the college. As such, a college student governance assembly will need to be formed with representatives from each campus.  These representatives will report back to the local campus student government association (SGA).

Is there a plan to integrate guided pathways with the Students First initiative?

The guided pathways initiative is a key part of redesigning how we foster student enrollment, progress and completion, and will be integrated into the enrollment management and advising implementation.  This will ultimately help students complete on time with less costs.

Will students have to take classes at other campuses to graduate?

The goal is to reduce the need for students to do this, while at the same time improving the process of taking classes at other campuses for those who need or want to. With consistent curriculum across the 12 campuses, students will find it easier to get the classes they need when or how (online or on-ground) they need them, especially to graduate.

Will campuses maintain their own media and specialty services that they currently have? Would this merger help other campuses create such services and activities such as student newspapers, clubs, and theater productions?

One of the many benefits of creating a single college with 12 campuses is that more collaboration and sharing of services can be achieved over time. Expertise at one campus will help develop new services at other campuses.  Moving forward, student leadership in the new single college will need to develop policies to guide how student clubs and services work together.

Can a student get advising or financial aid help at another college if they cannot get it at their own?

With a single college, there will be one student data system and one financial aid application process. Staff from any campus will be able to help students with advising and financial aid, in addition to those at their primary campus.

Will students who attend more than one community college need to pay fees at each?

In a single college with 12 campuses, there will be only one set of student fees.  Currently, when students attend more than one college they are often asked to pay duplicate fees that are sometimes reimbursed.  There have been cases, however, where students are dropped for non-payment of a fee that they already paid at another college.  This will not occur in the single college.

Does consolidation impact senior citizens taking free classes?

There are no anticipated changes in tuition waivers for senior citizens, veterans or other students who currently are eligible for that program.

How can we provide more resources to more high functioning autistic students who want to pursue an education?

As colleges work more closely together, our student disability services departments can share best practices, experts and speakers and cross-train staff to ensure that they have the skills to support all students with disabilities.

Additional General Questions

What criteria was used to determine the three regional groupings?

Several. Many variations were considered in the regional groupings, including not having regions.  It was determined that regions were essential in creating synergies and implementing common processes among the campuses.  One of the key purposes of the regions is to ensure that campuses have the resources they need to provide academic and support services to students; work together to find efficiencies; and share resources wherever possible.  Without regions, campuses risk continuing to do things 12 different ways. The regions were determined based on geography, programs and to a lesser extent student enrollment.  Because of the population density on the shoreline, this region will inevitably remain the largest region. We received feedback from Middlesex Community College asking us to rethink their region and are doing so. 

Will the writing of the substantive change plan be collaborative and inclusive?

Yes, after the submission of the proposal substantive change to NEASC. An Academic and Student Affairs Consolidation Committee is being formed to begin the second phase of planning focused on academic and student affairs.  FAC representatives and other faculty as well as Student Advisory Committee representatives and administrators and staff will be asked to provide input into the writing of this document.  Once the document is completed, it will be distributed widely and posted on the website.

Are similar changes planned for the four-year institutions in the future?

However, the state universities are part of the administrative consolidations as part of Students First including the areas of facilities, financial aid processing, fiscal affairs, human resources, institutional research and information technology.

Will legislative changes be necessary with the proposed consolidation?

State statutes will need to be revised in the spring legislative session to reflect the creation of a single college with 12 campuses. The bulk of the changes will be technical and conforming name changes throughout the higher education statutes to reflect the single college.

How long until changes are made?

The Board of Regents will act on this proposal at their December 14, 2017 meeting. If approved, the implementation planning will begin in earnest.  Our accreditor, NEASC, expects a substantive change proposal in March of 2018. Although the process will inevitably take many years to complete, particularly the curriculum revisions, the anticipated consolidation date for the new single college is July 1, 2019.

Why are the community colleges being consolidated?

Our goal as a public higher education institution is to provide a high quality, affordable and accessible post-secondary education that enables students to achieve their life and career goals. We recognize that without real structural change our system is unsustainable in both the short and long term. Our institutions are facing a true structural deficit because of year- over-year declining appropriations, decreased tuition revenue and increased costs.

In April 2017, at the request of the CT Board of Regents, the CSCU System President proposed two strategies to address these concerns, known as Students First. This included the consolidation of the 12 community colleges into one singly accredited institution, as well as system wide consolidation of administrative back-office functions.

More details can be found here: President Ojakian, April 2017

How will one community college benefit students?

Benefits of a single community for students are numerous. The new structure eliminates many barriers to success and degree completion. This will significantly reduce management at the colleges while maintaining critical resources for students at the campus level. In particular, the new structure calls for an increased focus on enrollment management, advising and retention to maximize the impact of our guided pathways initiative.

Colleges currently are not able to share student information from one to another. When students take classes at multiple colleges, as they sometimes need to do to get the classes they need, they must transfer classes between schools. However, those transfer credits do NOT count towards the students' GPA. At the same time, they have to provide duplicate documents needed to enroll, such as high school transcripts, immunization records, and previous college transcripts. They also may have to pay the $20 application fee multiple times.

Under the new structure, students would apply once, and be able to take classes at any of the 12 campuses, and all courses taken would apply to their degree program and their GPA.

How will the consolidation affect CSCU's accreditation?

The 12 community colleges all are currently accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). They are accredited separately, which requires that each institution meet the 9 NEASC standards required for continued accreditation. By consolidating the 12 colleges into one, this constitutes a change in the accreditation.

NEASC standards for accreditation

What does the leadership structure of one single community college look like?

In order to meet NEASC requirements for accreditation, new institutional leadership positions of Vice Chancellor for the Community College, Chief Academic Officer and a Chief Financial Officer must be included in the organizational structure. Campuses will be organizes into three regions with three Regional Presidents, managing the coordination between campuses. Each campus will have a Vice-President to manage the campus and play the critical role of serving the surrounding community. The three regional presidents will also dually serve as a campus Vice-President for one of the campuses in their region.

Each campus would maintain their local identity and have a campus Vice President with responsibility for local campus operations, delivery of academic programs and services and community relations. Regular communication with NEASC has been central to this effort and we are invited to bring forward a substantive change to the Commission this spring.

What is the purpose of the three regions and why does each have a President?

Consolidating 12 separate colleges, each with a long history of working independently, into a single college will take considerable effort to align processes and practices. To effectively manage an entity of this size, and to coordinate processes across the 12 campuses, we will need regional positions. These positions will be in many areas, such as finance, enrollment management, planning and research, I.T. and marketing. Staff currently working at one college now will shift into regional roles, working with their colleagues across four campuses and the other two regions.

For the consolidation to truly benefit students, there needs to be a leadership structure serving these regions that allows for better alignment of processes and practices than we have now. Over the last few months, we have learned that when campuses work together, such as Gateway and Housatonic, and Tunxis and Asnuntuck, there are many ways to achieve more efficiencies and better coordinate delivery of services to students. In an effort to compound these efficiencies, the three regional presidents will also serve as a campus vice-president for one campus within their respective region.

How will the three regions be staffed? Does this create more positions?

Staffing will primarily be done by searching among current community college personnel, to identify those who have the skills and experience to move into regional positions, wherever possible. These positions will have responsibilities beyond their immediate campus location, and will work closely with their colleagues at the other campuses within their region. Drawing from our amazing talent currently within the community colleges, will avoid the need to create additional positions. While an overall reduction in administrative headcount will take place primarily through attrition.

What is the main responsibility of the campus Vice President?

The campus vice-presidents will effectively be campus CEOs, reporting to the regional presidents. They will lead their campuses and manage day-to-day operations with the campus community. A very important task for the campus V.P. is to work closely with the surrounding community to ensure that the campus and the college remain responsive to those communities; both in terms of workforce development and helping students achieve their goals.

Which positions will change because of the consolidation? Will the functions of registrar, financial aid and admissions be the same?

Primarily the positions that will change are those in leadership roles and any positions that are elevated to regional positions. Enrollment management positions such as those in admissions, financial aid, registrars and student retention may shift focus from serving one campus to eventually serving the college as a whole.

All functions will be similar except that they will operate under a single college, with a single set of policies. Instead of having three separate departments, financial aid, admissions and registrar, the departments would instead work together. Staff in the future would be cross-trained, to handle admissions and financial aid, to help students enroll quicker and easier.

Why specifically is "enrollment management" being consolidated?

Currently, the 12 colleges each handle enrollment management in twelve different ways. This leads to students experiencing very different processes when applying to more than one college. A major advantage to having a single college is that we can coordinate a common admission, financial aid, and registration process for every student. They will only need to complete one application, provide one set of documents, and obtain one financial aid package.

The proposed enrollment management structure will be lead by a VP for enrollment management, who will work with three regional executive directors of enrollment management. These directors will be charged with managing all financial aid, admission, recruitment, and registration of all students within their region. They will also coordinate approaches between the three regions to ensure that all students receive the best possible experience.

How does consolidation affect academic programs?

The implications for academic programs will need to be carefully determined, and will take time to do so. Having common degrees among the 12 campuses will better serve students, as it will remove the uncertainty of course applicability between campuses. The single college would eventually award all degree programs. In accordance with NEASC standard 3.13 and 3.15, faculty has an important responsibility to determine the curriculum for any degree programs that need to be common. Where it makes sense based on local needs or area of focus, there will continue to be some programs that are unique and differentiated across campuses. Where degrees and certificate programs are similar, there is an opportunity for faculty to work together to agree on a single, common degree program in certain areas, especially those that exist across the 12 campuses. Externally accredited programs will likely need to apply for a single external accreditation over time. Courses will need common course numbers and common pre-requisites.

Will there need to be common general education?

In accordance with NEASC standards 4.14 - 4.18, there will need to be a common general education core for all undergraduate degree programs within the college. The curriculum will need to be determined by a faculty committee as soon as possible, built upon the significant progress made among the TAP competencies.

Will there still be a strong connection between the 12 campuses and their local community?

Yes, this is one of the most important elements of this proposal. The campuses will continue to work closely with the local business and civic leadership within their respective communities to develop the needed programs that are essential to the workforce needs of that region. There will also be better coordination and alignment of programs offered within each region, with campuses working together to develop academic programming with the regional community.

Will campuses still have foundations and advisory boards?

Yes, each of the 12 colleges currently has its own foundation and regional advisory boards. The foundations are legally separate 501c(3) entities, and will be completely unaffected by this proposed consolidation. As part of the commitment to retain the local connections between campuses and the local community, it is important that these organizations continue to operate as they do now.

The foundations will continue to operate in support of the local campus as they do now; raising funds to benefit students on their campuses. Any funds raised by the foundation will be controlled by the foundation and used to support their local campus.

How much money is likely to be saved because of the consolidation?

The projected savings targets were $28 million for the consolidation of the community colleges. We intend to fully achieve the projected savings targets.

How long will the consolidation take to complete?

We are seeking approval from the Board of Regents and CIHE of NEASC to begin the new consolidated community college on July 1, 2019. A substantive change proposal is due to CIHE in the spring of 2018 with an anticipated approval from NEASC in June 2018. Once the new institution is formed, it is likely that a comprehensive self-study would be necessary within the first 2-3 years to report on progress and to ensure that standards are being met.


Administrative Consolidation - System Wide

Objective: A single administrative infrastructure to eliminate redundant functions system wide and provide shared services to all universities and colleges

  • Consolidate "back office" functions such as purchasing, human resources, information technology, and facilities for the universities, colleges and system office
  • Reduce number of non-student facing personnel
  • Leverage subject matter expertise across system
  • Savings target approximately $13M of total administrative costs (4% cut)
Requires 1-2 years for implementation and realization of target savings; some implementation costs will be incurred

Organizational Consolidation - Community Colleges

Objective: One centrally managed college with campuses statewide

  • Phased in consolidation of leadership and management
  • Retains unique mission of colleges and local community connections
  • Savings target approximately $28M (20% cut)
  • Requires 1-2 years for implementation and realization of target savings; some implementation costs will be incurred
  • Similar initiatives across the country