HARTFORD – State Representatives Rick Hayes (R-51), Anne Dauphinais (R-44), Pat Boyd (D-50), and Senator Mae Flexer (D-29) have backed two bills that would seek to prevent Quinebaug Valley Community College and other Connecticut institutions within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities from merging or closing without legislative approval.
The Board of Regents for Higher Ed governs the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) which includes 12 community colleges, four universities, and Charter Oak State College.
A previous legislature granted the Board of Regents’ predecessor the ability to make all decisions that relate to the community college operations. The board enacted the controversial ‘Students First’ plan to allow the 12 school merger by consolidating these colleges into one single accredited institution.
“I am honored to have taken part in testimony related to SB-749,” said Rep. Hayes (R-Putnam). “We continue to worry about the fate of QVCC year after year. This legislation, if passed, will help alleviate those fears moving forward. I am also pleased at the way our Northeast Delegation came together across party lines in support of our community college. I’m certain we all have the best interest of QVCC at heart.
“Passing this legislation is essential in preventing not only Quinebaug Valley Community College but other local institutions around the state from becoming another program run by individuals in Hartford,” said Rep. Dauphinais (R-Killingly) said. “Many of these types of decisions are made in a vacuum and without much familiarity with how these schools operate and their uniqueness to the area residents in which they serve.”
“The Board of Regents is a body that is not elected and not accountable to the taxpayers. The General Assembly must retain the authority to approve any closures or mergers of our institutions of higher education. We owe it to the taxpayers to make the big decisions and not delegate the authority” said Rep. Boyd (D-Pomfret).
“It was inspiring to hear the testimony from community leaders and students as they highlighted the critical role our community colleges play in their own lives and in their towns,” said Senator Flexer (D-Killingly). “Our community college system is able to meet the specific needs of students and employers in various regions throughout the state and we need to ensure that this relationship is maintained. The legislation we have proposed would stop any short-sighted attempt to close or consolidate our community colleges and protect these critical local institutions. I was especially touched by the written testimony of QVCC founding President Bob Miller that was presented by Linda Colangelo, a QVCC alum. His vision brought QVCC to our corner, his leadership created the college we love and I hope his words today will inspire the legislature to maintain the independent gems that our community colleges are.”
Representatives Dauphinais and Boyd testified in front of Sen. Flexer and other members of the Higher Education and Employment Committee in support of SB-749, An Act Requiring Legislative Approval for the Merger or Closing of Institutions Within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, and HB-7120, An Act Concerning the Closing of Institutions or Campuses Within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, to give the legislature a final say in any decision that involves the closing or merging of a Connecticut community college or institution.
The bill now awaits further action by the Higher Education and Employment Committee.