In October 2015, the Board of Regents (BOR) for Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges proposed a new contract for faculty at the four CSU campuses. This contract contained proposals that redefined university education, by undermining shared governance with the faculty, academic freedom and tenure, faculty research and development, and the mentoring relationship between faculty and students. These proposals indicated that the BOR wanted to follow national trends in which administrators and legislators change the core mission of universities by replacing broad knowledge and skills with limited, job-related educational goals. The BOR justified these proposals with phrases like “work force development,” “fiscal responsibility,” and “reasonable flexibility.” But there was no concrete evidence that remaking the universities in this way would save any money.
Summit on "Inequality and the Crisis of Public Higher Education"
February 10, 2016
On February 10, 2016 the CSU-AAUP and the CCSU-SGA held a Summit on "Inequality and the Crisis of Public Higher Education" at Central Connecticut State University.
The Summit included a diverse group of speakers, from across the state and region, all of whom agreed that there was a crisis of public higher education caused by government defunding, privatization, and corporatization. This threatened the quality and cost of the type of higher education available to the majority of citizens and promised to exacerbate the already appalling inequality in the state.
There was broad agreement from speakers representing many different communities and professions.
Some speakers were academics, from the CSU system, other public universities in Connecticut (UConn) and nearby states (UMass Amherst/Dartmouth, University of Maine), and from private schools, large and small (Yale, the College of St. Rose). These academics shared research and experiences revealing not only the causes of inequality and the problems facing higher education, and but also the short-sightedness of the government that does not understand its value and importance.
There also was a consensus and broad show of solidarity from people outside the universities, including community leaders, union leaders, activists, and politicians. Students participated as well. All those at the Summit had experiences, knowledge, expertise, and personal stories that complimented and supplemented the work of faculty members. There was anger, frustration, and a commitment to work for real change expressed by everyone involved.
All had the same message – public higher education must be supported, its opportunities expanded, and it role in ending inequality encouraged to ensure a better future for the state, region, and country.
It was encouraging that there were so many like-minded people working so hard on these issues. If such a wide range of people could continue to work together in the future, we could form a united front that might effect real change.