According to Susan Weisselberg of Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management, “Our fiscal future is challenging for us, just as it has been for the last few years.” Not surprisingly, the State has cut its funding for higher education to help balance the budget, which in turn has put pressure on the Board of Regents (the governing body for the four state universities and the twelve community colleges) to devise “cost-saving” measures to offset those cuts to the system’s budget.
Toward this end, the BOR has proposed to consolidate aspects of the state’s twelve community colleges in order to make them more efficient and put “students first.” The idea is that instead of twelve separate, largely independent colleges, there will be one Community College of Connecticut with twelve branches. The single community college will be organized into three regions of four campuses, each group overseen by a single president. Many of the administrative functions will be consolidated into the system office (e.g. financial aid services, human services, and IT). The proposal asserts that no faculty or essential student support services would be lost. Among other benefits, this reorganization will make it possible for students to apply to single community college but take classes at any of the regional campuses without having to reapply to each individually. These changes will result, according to Board of Regents President Mark Ojakian, in a savings of $28 million for fiscal year 2021 (spread out over four years). However, the projected savings is for two years only, after which it seems the community college system would once again be in a deficit.
Perhaps not surprisingly, opposition to the proposal is widespread among faculty, students, and administration. Many are skeptical of the proposed savings, as similar promises were made when the Connecticut State University System and the community colleges were merged under a single administrative office, and those savings have not materialized. Such an outcome is fairly common, as a Chronicle of Higher Education review of Georgia’s merger of its 14 community colleges found that since its consolidation in 2011, the new system has “redirected about $24 million … which is less than 1 percent of the system’s $8.8-billion operating budget for the 2018 fiscal year alone”. According to a report by TIAA-CREF Institute, “troubled mergers” (and this one certainly qualifies) “may not result in notable changes to the overall cost structures of the post-merger institution and could, ultimately, result in closure or elimination of elements from one or both of the merged HEIs”.
The BOR does not need legislative approval for the proposed merger.
 Gardner, Lee. “Georgia’s Mergers Offer Lessons, and Cautions, to Other States:.” Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 63, no. 39, 23 June 2017, p. 1.