Community Colleges Leader, Legislator Say Plan First For Higher Education
Strategic plan should be in place before deciding on reorganization, leaders say
March 03, 2011
The state's chancellor of the community college system and a co-chairwoman of the higher education committee say that the state should develop a strategic plan before trying to restructure higher education.
After testifying Thursday in favor of a bill proposing a strategic plan for higher education, Marc Herzog, chancellor of the community college system, said, "It's the position of our board of trustees that you ought to have a plan in place before you reorganize."
He said a strategic plan would cover many issues and could address such topics as the relationship between higher education and the state's economy and the state's achievement gap.
State Rep. Roberta Willis, co-chairwoman of the higher education committee, agreed. "I think we need a plan first. … I don't know if we need to change the governance structure completely. … We need to have a better handle on what we're trying to accomplish, what our state priorities are for higher education."
Neither Herzog nor Willis directly criticized Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has proposed a sweeping reorganization of the higher education system that includes consolidating management of the community college system and state university system under a chief executive officer and a board of regents. Malloy has said he believes the reorganization will save millions of dollars.
Willis, D-Salisbury, and state Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, the other co-chairwoman of the committee, both have raised questions about how much the proposed consolidation would really save.
Willis also said a strategic plan should include all of Connecticut's state institutions, including the University of Connecticut.
Legislators and education leaders have criticized Malloy's plan as lacking details.
Bye said she's "still open to the idea of shared governance and consolidation" as proposed by the governor. "To me, the most critical piece, bar everything else, is that the individual units retain their identity."
Willis said that although she might disagree with certain aspects of the governor's plan, "I applaud him for putting higher education in the forefront. … The point is he wants to fix something and I agree with him."
She said she agrees with the governor that "administration is top-heavy" in higher education and supports his call for more transparency, more efficiencies and more investment in faculty.
Herzog said his board recommends developing a comprehensive strategic plan as described in a report that the program review and investigations committee issued in December.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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