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By Justin Muszynski
The President’s open forum last Tuesday was dominated by questions and concerns by faculty and staff in regards to the recent bill that hopes to make it easier for students to transfer to Connecticut state schools.
The bill in question (H.B. No. 5030), calls for all CSU schools and the University of Connecticut to develop a general education system that will “allow seamless transfer from the regional community-technical college system to the Connecticut State University System and the University of Connecticut.”
At the forum, University Provost Carl Lovitt, supported the bill by telling those in attendance that it’s something that will pay off in the long run.
“I think this is doable, I think it’s a good thing for the state,” said Lovitt. “It’s something that’s going to require intense conversation among faculty about course content and about articulation. It’s something that I don’t believe should be rammed down anyone’s throat, I think faculty has to maintain control of the conversation.”
Faculty Senate President Candace Barrington, however, said faculty have been excluded from the process as of yet.
“Part of the problem with how it’s been done so far is that the faculty voice has been completely absent,” said Barrington. “It seems like a lot of this has been done behind the scenes.”
President Jack Miller said he’s interested in the final outcome of this matter.
“I don’t want to act like a bystander, but I’m sort of looking forward to see how it comes out,” said Miller.
He compares it to a situation he faced before becoming the President of CCSU when he was employed at Florida State University in the late 1990’s, when the legislature passed a law that any major at a public university must have a common 60 credit lower division or it would receive no state funds.
“The reason why that worked, and it did work, is because it was like a gun to our head,” said Miller.
While Miller doesn’t advocate this method, he used it as an example to show that if need be, the CSU schools and UCONN can come up with a system that will satisfy this bill.
Many at the forum were very concerned about the timeframe that this bill lays out. It stipulates that a system must be in place by July. However, Lovitt again refers to Miller’s situation in Florida and explains that there may not be another option.
“I think if we had that kind of leverage directed at us we’d have no choice but to do this,” said Lovitt.
The other concern brought up at the forum was in regards to rumors floating around that departments will be consolidated in the near future. Felton Best, Professor of Philosophy, asked how much Miller had heard about this, if he had at all.
“I’ve not heard anything about that all, certainly nothing new” said Miller.
However, he says it’s a conversation that will more than likely arise in the next ten years or so in higher education.
“It’s an inevitable conversation, not just in Connecticut but everywhere,” said Miller. “We just got a $480,000 rescission from our budget for this working year. We know we’re getting cut $680,000 for next year, so you add all those together with a declining enrollment base in the state and it’s inevitable.”
David Spector, Professor of Biology, said during the conversation about possible consolidations in the future, that Miller was “pitting” the faculty against one other.
Miller insisted that this was not his goal and that he was just simply stating the fact that the university has already, and will continue to face budgetary restrictions.
The forum was held in the Connecticut Room in Memorial Hall and seemingly left much uncertainty amongst faculty and staff as it concluded.