With concerns about a $41 million cost-saving plan for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, the faculty senate of Central Connecticut State University will consider a no confidence resolution in system leadership on Monday.
"Chiefly it's that there is no plan, there are no details," said Stephen Cohen, president of the faculty senate at Central. "We have [dollar figures] for saving, but no information, no detail on how those figures came about or how they are going to be met."
In addition, Cohen said faculty members are dismayed that they were not involved in the development of the plan. " I think a lot of faculty believe any role we might have in this is just going to be window-dressing at this point, rather than a genuine partnership."
Faculty have also said that they fear that the "Students First" plan, which was proposed by CSCU President Mark Ojakian and endorsed earlier this month by the Board of Regents for Higher Education, will have negative effects on the four state universities, 12 community colleges and one online college in the system.
The resolution to be voted on at a special meeting of the senate on Monday calls for a vote of "non-confidence" in the Board of Regents and Ojakian for a lack of consultation with the faculty, for the "deleterious effect" expected on colleges and universities and for the plan's centralization of "needed local functions."
The resolution also states that the faculty senate of Central will not participate in any implementation of the plan and considers it "unfounded, nontransparent and undemocratic."
One aspect of the plan that troubles some faculty members is that it was voted on by the Board of Regents with very little explanation or discussion at the meeting earlier this month and without accompanying documents providing a detailed breakdown on exactly how the savings would be achieved. A Power Point presentation providing broad strokes about the plan was included in the agenda packet, but was not presented.
Maribel La Luz, spokeswoman for the CSCU system responded to the situation saying, "We appreciate the faculty senate's tenacity and passion for their work and their students. It's one of the reasons faculty is not impacted in the consolidation. We hope they decide to participate in the implementation process as it will clear up a lot of misinformation and benefit the students we all serve."
La Luz said the details on the plan will come later.
This month and next, Ojakian is visiting all 17 institutions in the system to talk with faculty and students about the plan which is called "Students First." He has said the plan is needed to stabilize CSCU finances that have a projected $38 million deficit next year, $55 million for the following year and $70 million the year after.
The plan projects savings of $28 million across the 12 community colleges by consolidating leadership, perhaps by having one centralized office managing all of the campuses, with a chief administrative office on each campus or possibly by putting in place regional managers who will oversee several colleges.
The remaining $13 million in the $41 million savings plan would be reaped by centralizing administrative services such as purchasing or information technology.
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From the Hartford Courant:
That doesn't sound good at all. What if anything does this mean for athletics?
(CBS Connecticut) — Central Connecticut State University’s faculty senate late this afternoon voted no confidence in the leadership of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.
The move is in response to a $40-million cost-cutting plan from system president Mark Ojakian. The specifics of the plan have yet to be presented, but it includes a reorganization of support staff, and the consolidation of the leadership of some community colleges.
Professor David Blitz, who proposed the no-confidence vote at CCSU, said the centralization of support staff would impact students.
“The so-called distinction between front office and back office is really a mirage,” Blitz said. “The whole system has to function as a whole.”
Blitz said consolidating support staff will make it harder to hire faculty, and harder to get tech support for equipment used to teach classes.
One professor compared participating in the cost-cutting plan with being asked to help build a guillotine that will then kill you.
The professors mostly backed away from a proposal that they not participate in the implementation of the cost-cutting plan. They changed the proposal to instead limit their participation, at least in theory.
The professors will take part in the implementation of the cost-cutting plan only to protect their rights as faculty members and union members, to represent school identity, and to represent students.
Some CCSU faculty members described Ojakian as a bully, and warned of retribution against their campus.
The vote was 39-10 in favor of no confidence.
The other three state universities are apparently not planning no confidence votes at this time, but Manchester Community College may do so, according to leaders of the CCSU faculty senate.
Ojakian will visit campus tomorrow. A rally is planned at 12:30.
CCSU faculty to protest the Board of Regents today.
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH)– Professors at one state university plan a protest rally Tuesday after a vote of no confidence in the board of regents Monday night. It’s all about a cost saving plan affecting 16 different schools.
You said details, and that’s just the problems that faculty members at Central Connecticut State University have with this plan…they have no heard the details of how the state plans to save $41 million.
That led to a vote of no confidence Monday night. No confidence in the board of regents. The board has put out a plan that it says will save all those millions of dollars through consolidation. The question is, what is getting consolidated, and what will that mean for faculty, staff, and the kind of education students will get.
Full disclosure: I am currently an adjunct professor at a state university. The consolidation could mean purchasing, human resources; maybe even top leadership will eventually be done centrally, from just one location. Professors say they have not been a part of the consolidation discussion, and the board has not put out the details of exactly how they’re going to save all that money. That led to Monday night’s lopsided 39-10 no confidence vote.
“It clearly expresses our dissatisfaction with seven years of the board of regents and their failed plans one after the other to re-organize at the expense of faculty staff and ultimately to the detriment of students,” said David Blitz, Philosophy Department.
“The consolidation that is being proposed right now does not impact students does not impact faculty purposely. Because we need to focus on our core mission of teaching and learning. And preserving that,” said Maribel La Luz, CSCU.
The Board of Regents has called its consolidation plan “Students First” and says it is necessary because of projected 8 figure budget deficits for the 17 colleges and Universities in the state system. At Central Monday, the president of the state college and university system will be holding a town hall meeting.
Faculty members plan to hold a protest rally beforehand, and then they plan to march into the hall where he is holding the town hall. The press release says they will then pepper him with pointed questions.
And this could be just the beginning. Faculty at Southern, Eastern and Western, and the 12 community colleges could all take similar no confidence votes in the coming weeks.
bout time some of the other universities jump on board. Wonder how much those salaries are of the board members. Probably very inflated would be my guess.
Hartford Courant editorial:
CSCU Consolidation Makes Sense
The financial situation in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system is grim, as it is with most aspects of state government these days. Revenues aren't meeting expenses, and more cuts are just around the corner.
So it's great news that CSCU President Mark E. Ojakian has come up with a plan that would save $41 million by consolidating redundant administrative costs without closing a campus or laying off a single teacher.
In a petulant protest against the plan on Monday night, the Central Connecticut State University faculty senate voted for a resolution of no confidence in Mr. Ojakian and the CSCU Board of Regents. Despite that, officials should get behind the plan and make it happen. Tuition has been hiked enough already, and enrollment is dropping in some schools. It's time for real structural change.
The sprawling system of four universities and 12 community colleges has a total operating budget of about $1.2 billion. Each college and university has generally operated independently for years, each with its own budget. A plan to consolidate administrative functions within the system is long overdue. The potential cost savings are obvious.
Mr. Ojakian proposes to consolidate all of CSCU's information technology, human resources, purchasing, facilities and other "back office" functions, saving an estimated $13 million. One could safely assume more savings could be found in a budget this big, but $13 million is a good start, especially if it encourages a centralized approach for the future.
He also proposes to consolidate operations of all 12 community colleges into one that is "centrally managed and maintains ... geographic locations and local community connections." It means "a significant reduction of campus leadership and management," he wrote in an April 3 letter to the CSCU community.
That's a tough call, because a lot of administrators will lose their jobs. But if cuts are necessary, keeping them away from students is a smart way to do it. The pain is lessened by the fact that, by contract, many administrators whose jobs would be eliminated would receive an overly generous one-year notice before being shown the door. Still, the eventual savings add up to an estimated $28 million.
Mr. Ojakian said he considered closing community college campuses, consolidating operations of the four universities, and eliminating the main system office, among other things. "Those options," he wrote, "did not meet our guiding principles, were not feasible for long-term growth or were potentially more costly."
If state employees don't agree to givebacks requested by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, then the CSCU budget could face a deficit of $90 million to $100 million, Mr. Ojakian told The Courant's editorial board this week — a good measure of how important it is to realign the institution.
The "Students First" plan will put CSCU on smarter footing, and it does so without costing any faculty their jobs.
That makes Monday night's no-confidence vote by faculty members that much more bewildering.
The faculty's concerns were based primarily on a lack of details in the plan as it stands right now, the faculty senate president said. But the proposed resolution also complains about a "lack of prior consultation with faculty," even though faculty were included in the working groups whose recommendations led to the plan, and "unchecked growth of the 'system' office," even though Mr. Ojakian proposes cutting it by 13 percent.
As a general approach, it's hard to argue against streamlining operations. That's what businesses do when times get tight. They look for unnecessary redundancies to trim costs and realign the enterprise for adaptability in the future. The CSCU faculty should understand that.
It's time for faculty to work with leadership and fix the institution they all rely on. In its current form, it's unsustainable. Faculty should participate in the process instead of disparaging it without offering solutions of their own.
Mr. Ojakian is showing smart, strong and confident leadership, exactly what the system needs. Other state departments could follow his example.
Shocking coming from the UConn Courant. So long as the mother ship remains untouched, whatever for the rest. Don't know what the best plan is but pray athletics (ours) isn't on the chopping block. we do bring in cash so hoping to be ok.
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