Higher Education Reform Needs Overhaul

February 6, 2015

Sen. Boucher: Income Directly Tied to Educational Attainment

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) is supporting an overhaul of the state’s Higher Education system. Sen. Boucher has filed several bill proposals with the senate clerk’s office in an effort to change the way Higher Education is run in Connecticut. The proposals may be given consideration in the legislature’s Higher Education Committee.
“Given the difficulty of the transition from the former agency known as the Department of Higher Education to the Board of Regents system, I and others believe that changes in the new reformed structure may help restore Connecticut’s higher education reputation and credibility. Some reasonable change seem to be in order given recent news articles that have been critical of excessive compensation issues that have led to the replacement of the former President, the resignation of the former Chairmen of the Board of Regents and threats of no confidence votes by higher education faculty members,” said Sen. Boucher.

During the last several years the Connecticut Board of Regents has dealt with several controversial incidents. Most recently, the BOR forbid the out-going provost from talking about why he left his position.

Senator Boucher is troubled by this and increases in salary and bonuses by former BOR President, Robert Kennedy. On his own Kennedy approved raises for 21 members of the Board of Regent’s executive staff, despite the fact that new language creating the BOR system is clear – only a full board has the authority to approve raises. After public pressure Robert Kennedy, resigned.

And there was the use of $1.8 million in taxpayer dollars to contract with a Consulting Group to develop “Transform CSCU 2020” program. All while increasing tuition on students and families around the state at the public universities.

“There is a direct relationship between income and educational attainment. The more expensive and out of reach we make higher education, the wider the income gap becomes. Our students deserve the best, most affordable education and should not be penalized due to lack of proper implementation and oversight of this new structure,” said Sen. Boucher.

Boucher says the following changes could improve the function of higher education systems that have different missions:

  • Boucher is proposing eliminating in statute the positions of the two Vice Presidents under the Board of Regents and requiring a president of a state university and of a regional community-technical college to serve as members of said board of regents.
  • Presidents of the community colleges and the state university system will be recruited hired and evaluated by their own individual boards of trustees.
  • ·Individual colleges and universities would remain responsible for their own fundraising through their own foundations and not at the Board of Regents level and make fundraising activities and records more transparent.
  • Requiring the board of regents for higher education to study and implement the best practices of national models of boards of regents for higher education.

In addition, Boucher would like to bring the collective bargaining process to the campuses instead of going through one office, the administration’s Office of Policy and Management, in an effort to make budget and tuition decisions more reflective of the student s and communities that our colleges represent.

Sen. Boucher remarked, “The individual institutions know better how to manage their constituent units, their budgets and how to save money so that students and their families do not suffer financially.”