by Lauren Lustgarten
President of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Mark E. Ojakian released a statement this past week recommending a tuition increase to all Connecticut state colleges.
Ojakian is recommending an increase smaller than the previous two years. As he said in the statement, for the first time ever he is suggesting a two-year time frame, “so that students and families can plan better for their educational costs.”
In the released statement, Ojakian said: “We are working hard every day to put our students first. That is why, like last year, I want you to hear this news directly from me. I am recommending a tuition increase at all of our schools.”
The recommended increase for all students at the four universities, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College for Fiscal Year 2018 is as follows:
Current tuition for universities is $10,079, with an increase of four percent or $403, the new tuition will be $10,482.
Current tuition for community college is $4,168, with an increase of 2.5 percent or $104, the new tuition will be $4,276.
Current tuition for Charter Oak State College is $7,611, with an increase of four percent or $304, the new tuition will be $7,915.
For Fiscal Year 2019, the recommended tuition increase is as follows:
Universities will face a four percent or $419 increase to the 2018 tuition, resulting in the 2019 tuition being $10,901.
Community colleges will face a 2.5 percent or $108 increase to the 2018 tuition, resulting in the 2019 tuition being $4,384.
Charter Oak State College will face a four percent or $319 increase to the 2018 tuition, resulting in the 2019 tuition being $8,234.
When it comes to how this will directly affect Central Connecticut State University, director of admissions Lawrence Hall believes this proposed increase will still keep CCSU competitive in the marketplace.
“Some students and families within the state and region will find it a little more challenging to attend,” said Hall. “However, CCSU will still maintain its status as the most affordable bachelor’s degree program in the state of Connecticut.”
As CCSU President Zulma Toro and CCSU have been committed to working on increasing enrollment numbers, this proposal can have an effect on their mission.
For Brendan Kruh, SGA treasurer, Finance Association president, and currently running for SGA president, he believes any increase at all is detrimental to the student body.
Kruh testified at the legislative offices in Hartford to the state legislatures of Higher Education Appropriations Committee about how damaging he believes tuition increases are to CCSU.
“I feel as though a four percent increase slated for this year and next is not as bad as a 12 percent increase, which was a figure being thrown around,” said Kruh. “However, with that being said, I am strongly against any increase because I have had the opportunity to meet students from every walk of life on this campus and I feel as though rising tuition will soon have a direct correlation with pricing out students from financially disadvantaged households who cannot afford to pay even a cent increase.”
The Board of Regents Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 29, to discuss the recommendation. The full Board will meet on April 6 to vote.
“I believe it is our duty as students to continue seeking an affordable quality education, and to ensure that we do it is vital more now than ever to consistently place large amounts of pressure on the BOR and State Legislators,” said Kruh.
Ojakian said the CSCU system is facing a $35 million deficit, but this proposed increase does not close that deficit and the system would never look to tuition to do so. He added that if they did look to tuition, they would have to raise it by double-digits and that is not an option they are willing to consider.
Ojakian added, “I am fully aware that an increase is still an increase and this will impact you and your families. As a public higher education system, we will work hard to provide you with the affordable high quality education you deserve and expect.”
by Cyrus dos Santos
After a three month delay, construction has officially begun on the Willard-DiLoreto expansion and renovation project.
“We were hoping the project would have started last year,” said Jim Grupp, director of engineering at Central Connecticut State University. “We broke ground in December, and that’s when we were hoping it would start.”
Due to contract issues, it took a year for Downes Construction Company of New Britain to work with the contract manager at Risk in breaking ground, according to Grupp.
“Part of our job is to make sure that we’re getting a building that’s going to be functional for dealing with the students and faculty,” said Grupp.
The estimated completion date is October 31, 2018.
“That’s when we can technically occupy the building,” said Grupp.
It will take approximately three months to move in all necessary furniture and to get the building up and running.
“We plan to open the building for the spring of 2019,” said Grupp.
According to documents obtained from the State of Connecticut Division of Construction Services, the construction phase, from start date to substantial completion date, is 720 calendar days.
Should the project go past 720 calendar days, the CMR would be held accountable by the state. “It’s thousands of dollars per day,” said Grupp.
Grupp confirmed the official start date of the renovations was recently. “March 13, of this year.”
720 days gives the CMR until March 2, 2019 to arrive at the substantial completion date, under the contract’s proposed construction phase, without penalty.
Downes Construction Company, which constructed CCSU’s Mid-Campus Residence Hall and the Vance Academic Center, was chosen by a team consisting of members from CCSU and the State of Connecticut’s Division of Construction Services. They will be working with a budget of $63 million.
“The guaranteed maximum price is $47 million,” said Grupp. “And then there’s the overall project cost.”
The project cost covers mechanical and electrical designer fees, inspections, hazardous waste mitigation, consultant and architect fees. According to Grupp, those costs total about $63 million.
The remodeled building will offer a new, indoor common area surrounded by natural light, “that provides the CCSU campus with a one-stop student services center,” according to TSKP Studio, the architect for the project. “The design adds 35,000 square feet between two existing buildings, totaling 105,000 square feet.”
Colliers International, a global commercial real estate company with a branch located in Hartford, has come on as the contract administrator.
“They’re like our eyes and ears on the project,” explained Grupp. Colliers’ main job is to assure the contract is upheld for the state. “They’re there every day, eight hours a day, because we just can’t be there eight hours.”
by Lauren Lustgarten
If you’re looking for the perfect dessert to make for your guests this Easter, we have the one for you. These cupcakes with toasted coconut and Cadbury Eggs are the perfect combination of presentable, simple and delicious – something you just can’t pass up.
First, prepare the cake mix of your choice according to the package. Place the cake mix in cupcake holders and bake according to the package directions.
To make the frosting, mix together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, frost them with desired amount.
To toast your coconut, spread evenly over a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for five minutes. Top the cooled, frosted cupcakes with the coconut and as many Cadbury eggs as desired and enjoy!
- Store bought cake mix, prepare with ingredients according to package
- 1 cup coconut
- 1 package Cadbury eggs
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 stick of butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla
by Lauren Lustgarten
Due to a number of factors, it is no shock that enrollment rates for Central Connecticut State University have been declining. From a total number of 11,784 students enrolled in Fall 2016 to 11,060 students enrolled for the spring semester, the numbers are at the lowest they have been in quite some time, according to Larry Hall, director of recruitment and admissions.
Increasing enrollment has been something Dr. Toro has set her mind to since the first day she started at CCSU. In order to implement the necessary tactics to raise these rates, the first step was to look at what exactly was causing them to drop.
“The fact that the college-age student population in the state is going down means our enrollment rate will as well,” said Dr. Toro. “We didn’t have a marketing campaign going and we didn’t have enrollment targets. All of those things are important. Even when I don’t think we compete with other institutions because I think our educational experience provides better volume, we have competition. The fact that people don’t understand all the things we offer is contributing to that competition as well.”
“We have been relying on the history of the institution, but we haven’t been diligently working towards maintaining our enrollment levels,” said Dr. Toro.
Hall explained how, although it is normal for spring semester enrollment rates to drop from fall, these numbers are still far too low.
“We cannot ignore the financial realities of 2016 and the climate that was there during that time. The economy will always play a role. It was also an election year and I am certain that there was some unsettling moments for individuals about what was coming next,” said Hall. “We need to work on moving the needle on our first to second year retention rate from 75 percent to above 80 percent.”
Progress has already started to be made.
“We have already started by launching a marketing campaign which includes billboards, a number of advertisements on public transportation buses, television ads and also digital ads,” said Dr. Toro. “We are also working with current students who are reaching out to perspective students. We have a call center downtown that we are using for that purpose.”
On top of a new marketing campaign, a new slogan has also been implemented to help along the recruiting process: “See You at CCSU.” Dr. Toro has been involving current students in the process by having them work on short videos and other pieces that you can find on social media.
Dr. Toro also held an Admitted Students Day where students enrolled for Fall 2017 came and interacted with faculty and students and were able to ask questions. Dr. Toro stated that her main goal with holding these admitted events is to have potential students picture themselves as part of CCSU. Another Admitted Students Day will be held soon.
Dr. Toro, admissions and other faculty continue to make visits to high schools, community colleges and community based organizations and recruit both within the state and region.
“We are in the process of developing the Central story; why students come to Central, what makes our educational experience unique. As soon as the story is developed we will launch another marketing campaign using that information,” said Dr. Toro.
The “Central Story” Dr. Toro has been speaking about is something that she believes will bring the university far if told.
“As a university, we have a responsibility to formally tell our story. It is really a matter of awareness,” said Hall. “There are still pockets in the state that don’t necessarily know us or think about us the way we would like them to. We have a lot of alumni across the state that are doing great things. We have to make sure people know that and that those folks are proud enough to say that they are alumni of this institution.”
Dr. Toro’s goal for the school is to have 15,000 enrolled students after five years. She remains realistic for Fall 2017 with a goal of 12,200 students.
“You may be thinking that’s not a high number, but when you have experienced this kind of decline, turning that around takes a lot of time. 12,200 is quite an accomplishment,” said Dr. Toro.
Hall explained that retainment and graduation rates are extremely important to enrollment rates. Everything is being looked at from making sure students continue to feel connected to the university to having mechanisms in place to help students if they have any sorts of problems.
“We need our students to have a positive experience so they can go tell their friends and family about the institution. No one can market the place like currently enrolled students and/or alumni,” said Hall.
“Dr. Toro’s implemented marketing campaign is certainly the start,” said Hall. “It is the beginning of continuing to move in the right direction, but that has to be coupled with positive experiences of students that continue to tell the story. Visibility and awareness is key.”
With these initiatives implemented and with the involvement of the right people, the future of enrollment at CCSU remains hopeful. Dr. Toro also hopes to add new academic programs that seem necessary for the school and students.
“There are definitely some obstacles, but nothing impossible for us to overcome. I am extremely happy to see how people have engaged themselves in the activities and the initiative we have been implementing,” said Dr. Toro.” The faculty, staff, students, alums and people from the community have been helping us along the way. I am very thankful and pleased to see that engagement.”
by Sarah Willson
Central Connecticut State University held a panel discussion in Alumni Hall to educate students and the public about the immigration bill making its way through the White House, after it was moved from the Sprague-Carlton room due to safety reasons from a high-volume turnout.
The event, held on March 1, brought in four key speakers to talk with students and faculty about the importance of the bill proposed by President Donald Trump, because it could deport up to three million undocumented people.
CCSU President Zulma Toro introduced the key speakers; two immigration attorneys, a CCSU student and CCSU’s associate director of international student and scholar services.
“We are committed to providing a safe environment,” said Dr. Toro, opening the discussion by speaking about immigration laws. “You will have a better handle [after today] on what comes your way.”
“It’s very important not to get in trouble with the law,” said immigration attorney Monika Gradzki. “It is extremely, extremely important not to find yourself in a situation where you are being arrested. If you are arrested, you do not want to take any chances with that situation, you need to make sure that your criminal arrest is analyzed by both criminal attorneys and immigration attorneys.”
The panel explained some precautions undocumented and international students should be aware of, if they are ever confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Immigration attorney Jeff Dressler stressed the importance of having a plan and cooperating with the police, before explaining that arguing with them will only escalate the situation.
Dressler continued to say documents and other important information should always be accessible, as they will be needed if ICE arrives. More than anything, he emphasized on how critical it is to be courteous, remain calm and follow instructions if confronted by an immigration officer.
Dressler suggested downloading SafeLock on your personal phone, an app which lets users safely store and easily access all identification documents if need be.
As for where to receive help on campus, CCSU’s associate director of international student and scholar services, Toyin Ayeni, said that an email will circulate campus from Dr. Toro, encouraging students to reach out to her if they feel they need help or are in danger.
“Talk to the [CCSU] president about your situation,” said Ayeni. “She will be able to analyze it and make it easier for you.”
If Dr. Toro is not available, and students feel as if they need immediate attention regarding their situation, Ayeni said she encourages them to visit the Student Wellness Center, located in room 205 of Marcus White Hall.
Students can find five counselors available to help, Monday through Friday.
Every panel member stated that the most important thing to remember is that no one at CCSU is alone.
“We know there are anxieties and concerns,” said Ayeni. “We, as an institution, are a resource to all our students.”
by Lorenzo Burgio and Lauren Lustgarten
After realizing that years of cutting costs and services is not a feasible solution to the financial challenges Connecticut has been facing, on Feb. 8, Governor Malloy released his proposed budget for 2018. This budget consists of a 4.4 percent cut to the Connecticut State Colleges and University (CSCU) system. This cut represents a decrease of approximately $25 million to the total allocation.
CSCU President Mark Ojakian released a statement following the announcement of this proposed budget.
“Our state has faced significant fiscal challenges for some time and there was no indication that this year would be different,” said Ojakian. “Over the last year and a half, we have made many tough decisions to live within our means while always putting our students first. However, responding year after year by cutting costs and services is not a viable solution to the shrinking budgets we know exist in the foreseeable future. We must do our part to develop a long-term plan for our system that is realistic, predictable and sustainable in the future and provides our students the opportunities they need and deserve.”
CCSU professor and chair holder in public policy Don DeFronzo believes this budget is significant, but the outcome remains undetermined at this point.
“Where this all falls out is probably a little premature to determine, but it is a significant cut and there will probably be some negative impacts across the system,” said DeFronzo. “The governor’s budget is balanced with the assumption that there is going to be $700 million in the union concessions from all the various state employees and without that $700 million in concessions, that sets up a potential situation where perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands of employees will be laid off and that could have a far more detrimental effect to the university system than any other part of the budget. It’s a real daunting process no matter how you look at it. Certainly that aspect of the $700 million in union concessions, which is planned for but not at all determined yet, is the real ticking time bomb in terms of what might happen.”
CSCU educates 45 percent of Connecticut’s college-age population, while almost 75 percent are employed in the state within nine months of graduation.
“I believe that the 4.4 percent budget cut to the CSCU system is detrimental to not only students who cannot afford a tuition increase, but also to the longevity of our state,” said CCSU Student Government Association Treasuruer Brendan Kruh. “I know that as we raise the cost of attending our public institutions, we will be pricing out a demographic of disadvantaged students.”
“The fact of the matter is, 30 percent of our high school graduates leave the state to attend college elsewhere. As we increase tuition, we can expect that this number will grow larger,” said Kruh. “Students who attend college out of state are more likely to attain employment near where they went to college, than they are to return home. If we continue to increase the cost of tuition out state is in serious jeopardy of losing students whose public education is an investment in our state’s economic future.”
In a statement released on Feb. 8 by Matt Fleury, the chief executive officer of the CSCU system, it was stated that he asked Ojakian to develop a management recommendation for the Board in order to close the proposed deficit in the biennial budget, but “there remains no credible reason to treat these circumstances as temporary.”
The recommendations aim “to streamline the administrative process that frustrates staff and students to re-direct all possible resources to serving and teaching,” wrote Fleury in the statement. “They will be a good start, but not remotely the full solution.” The CSCU system plans to have all recommendations in order by July 1 to move forward with the plan.
“What is needed in 2018 differs greatly from what was needed in 2011 when the system was created. The needs of our students are different, our economy is different and the state resources available to support higher education are different,” wrote Fleury in the statement.
“The Governor’s proposed budges is the beginning of a long conversation realated to the budget,” said CCSU’s chief financial officer Charlene Casamento.
by Lauren Lustgarten
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your loved one how much you appreciate them, not only with gifts, but something better: food. Looking for the perfect dessert to make your loved one this Valentine’s Day? These ‘Heart of the Batter’ cupcakes are perfect for you.
With just 30 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes in the oven, these appealing and delicious cupcakes will be the highlight of your night. First, preheat the oven the 350 degrees. Line a six-cup jumbo muffin pan with liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed. Once the batter is light and fluffy (after about three minutes), beat in the eggs one at a time, following with the vanilla extract.
Reduce the mixer to low speed while beating in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the strawberry milk, beginning and ending with the flour until all is combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for five minutes then remove to a rack to let cool.
Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped piece of cake; about the same size of the strawberry, out of the top of each cupcake. Stop at about ½ inch from the bottom, then stuff with the strawberries. Cover with the removed piece of cake.
Frost each cupcake with a frosting of choice and then top each cupcake with a strawberry half and enjoy!
1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup of granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup strawberry milk, at room termperature
6 strawberries, hulled
by Lauren Lustgarten
After a seven-month, nationwide search, on Oct. 20, the Board of Regents for Higher Education unanimously voted to make history at Central Connecticut State University. On Jan. 3, Dr. Zulma Toro became the first female and the first Hispanic president of the university.
As the first woman president of CCSU, many wonder if gender will have a positive or negative effect on the goals set in place and the future of the university, if any effect at all. Dr. Toro has never seen gender as an obstacle or something that makes anyone more or less than anybody else.
“Although, I do think that people have different expectations because of my gender and/or because of my ethnicity. Those expectations could be higher or lower for me rather than for other presidents, but that reality can open so many doors for me,” said Dr. Toro. “Given the demographics of this region, given the things this region needs to move forward, I think those are all assets that will help me in moving CCSU forward. I am a human being, a professional, trying to do the best I can for something I am passionate about.”
Just a few weeks into Dr. Toro’s first semester, she has already made strides in accomplishing all that she envisions for the future of CCSU.
“I have been not only meeting with the academic departments and faculty, but also our support offices to learn first what they do so I can understand where the action happens and what kind of opportunities we have to grow those programs and the type of education experiences they offer to students,” said Dr. Toro. “Also, I talk to them about where I see CCSU going and what I think the priorities will be that will guide the strategic planning process that we will engage ourselves in in the next few weeks.”
This process has been going very well, as Dr. Toro has learned quite a bit about CCSU. She has been able to use the information she has gathered to advocate for Central when she meets with legislatures. “At the same time, I am working with the leadership team, the union and faculty leaders to start moving forward with the priorities I have identified for the institution,” said Dr. Toro.
Dr. Toro’s first priority for CCSU is enrollment.
“We will be focusing on increasing enrollment, and to increase that, there are a lot of things we have to look at it. From the way we recruit students, to the way we retain students, to the educational experience we offer, to the marketing of the programs, to understanding what the things are that prospect students are looking for, but also what the things are that employers are looking for. And also, how we can allocate a citizen that is ready to contribute to society,” said Dr. Toro.
She explained the details about her priority of enrollment and the strategic planning process it involves. “So far, we know that we are the largest and the most affordable of the four-year institutions within the system,” said Dr. Toro. “We want to be the largest. We want to be 15,000 students. So, how are we going to get there? What are the things we need to do?”
As enrollment has already been dug into as a goal of Dr. Toro’s, the second priority remains extremely important; community engagement.
“According to the Carnegie Classification, we are a community-engaged institution, but I want the institution to be institutionalized across all programs across everything we do. And we need to do quite a bit of work still,” said Dr. Toro. “The objective is to take the institution to the communities we serve and to bring the communities to the institution; New Britain, Hartford, West Hartford. I want them to come to us for expertise. I want them to think that we are a resource that can work with them in the solution of the most pressing issues they are faced with. We have a lot of students that can be involved with these activities and a lot of faculty that can do scholarly work based on the issues the cities face.”
Dr. Toro doesn’t stop there when it comes to her goals for what she wants CCSU to be and do. The third priority is diversification of sources of funding. “That I will be very involved with. I will be fundraising, cultivating donors, asking donors to support the institutions and this will take me across the nation and also hopefully abroad to engage them in the Institution,” said Dr. Toro. “We will also try grant writing as a source of funding which will support our community engagement and support what we want to do.”
“CCSU has been able to accomplish quite a bit through the years and I can say that the future is really bright for this institution. We are well proficient, we have the commitment of faculty and staff and we have very unique and remarkable students that make us proud,” said Dr. Toro. “We have a lot of good things happening. We just have to assess what is working well, what can be working better and how we can go about strengthening and building upon those foundations to move CCSU to a new level of reputation and recognition. I think that everyone knows within the Central community all the good things we offer. However, that story has not been told enough outside of Central and we have to do that.”
Touching upon last week’s announcement about the new building coming in downtown, Dr. Toro hopes to continue on increasing CCSU’s presence in downtown New Britain. She is pushing to be a partner in the development of the city as she believes the university has the opportunity to help surrounding cities elevate the standard of living.
“Five years from now, when I am listening to a panel of students describing the reasons why they had to come to Central, I want them to say, ‘I came to Central because it was my top choice due to the quality of programs they offer and the opportunities they offer to engage with the communities around them.’ I want Central to be a destination for students. I don’t want Central to be a second choice.”
Dr. Toro earned a doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan and an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from the University of Puerto Rico. Most recently, she was the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, making her the most qualified out of the 69 candidates that were looked at for the position at CCSU.
“We are going to be immortal in the nation in how we educate the student population we are serving and also in how we go about doing what we do; serving our students and our community,” said Dr. Toro.
by Kayla Murphy
On Tuesday Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. in Devil’s Den, Central Activities Network (CAN) hosted part one of a four part poetry series program. Over a hundred people attended to hear poet Ashley Haze perform.
“I thought her performance was very powerful,” said freshman elementary education student, Lyndsy Ignacio.
“She touched on very important topics and I thought she did a good job connecting with the audience,” said Ignacio.
“I was ten years old when I picked up a pen and a piece of paper,” said spoken word artist Ashley Haze.
“Every day after school I would write for an hour,” Haze said.
Haze had said that writing and performing poetry was her dream, but she realized that she would need a steady job first and then she could focus on her career.
Laughing, she said, “I work nine to five, and then from five to nine I work on my dream. It’s a good balance and practice to have.”
Haze’s pieces focused on many different aspects of life such as feminism, celebrities, Saturday mornings and cultural enlightenment of African Americans. Haze said that a lot of inspiration for her poems comes from current events and movies such as, “The Help” and “Alligator Bait.”
“I really liked her poem about body image,” said freshman nursing student Sarah Allen.
“Haze made good points about when people say she has a ‘pretty face’ but implying that her body isn’t. I like how she empowered feminism and talked about being beautiful inside and out,” Allen said.
In one of her poems, Haze responds to the idea of feminism with, “I can be eye candy and soul food because I can multitask.”
Damar Britto, a junior technology and engineering education major, said his favorite poem by Haze was “Saturday Mornings.”
“I could relate to her piece about immigration and housework because my great grandmother was a housemaid as well,” Britto said.
In her poem, Haze mentions about how she would clean spotless with her mother on Saturday mornings and how her grandmother was a hotel maid in Chicago.
Haze said she was taught that “cleanliness was close to godliness.”
For the next few months, students can join C.A.N in the rest of the poetry series. The next performer is Gabriel Ramirez: On What it Means to be Black, on February 1st at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall.
On Feb. 13, at 8 p.m in Alumni Hall, “Kyla Lacey: On Her Experience of Domestic Violence and Abuse” is the third part of the series. The final performer is “Ebony Stewart: Selfless Spoken Word Artist,” on Mar. 21 at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall.