Connecticut to possibly consolidate community colleges
- The head of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities is considering consolidation of the state's 12 community colleges under a single system, reports WNPR. President Mark Ojakian says students can benefit from the creation of the Community College of Connecticut by being able to enroll in classes on any campus.
- Ojakian says the plan could potentially save $28 million for the state's community colleges, offering financial stability for the institutions. He intends to present the new plan before the Board of Regents of Higher Education this week.
- Under Ojakian's proposal, administrations at each of the institutions would be cut, including college presidents and CFOs. Though, he expects all of the campuses will stay open after the consolidation.
News of potential consolidation in Connecticut follows recent news out of Wisconsin of a proposal to merge the University of Wisconsin's two-year colleges into its four-year institutions — which according to the system's President Ray Cross, would help allay concerns about lower enrollment in the state's two-year schools. Though, there is some increased support for college mergers and consolidations, with a recent report suggesting that consolidation could be the best option for financially vulnerable institutions, and a July report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni showing that consolidation, particularly of resources among schools, could offer financial savings.
The data is still not all to clear though, and won't apply to all colleges and universities, which should take into account the possibility that mergers or consolidations will not necessarily solve their financial difficulties; Salem State University and the Monserrat College of Art, for example, discontinued plans for a merger when it became clear the cost of merging the two schools would be greater than whatever savings could be gained from combining forces. A proposed merger of the University of New Orleans and historically black Southern University at New Orleans also encountered difficulties. In fact, UNO President Peter Foos once jokingly compared potential mergers as sometimes being like "trying to take an apple and merge it with an orange, and you don’t get anything that’s good."