BOR Pres. Gray Visits Campus With Message Of Change!
By Nathan Cheatham
Live Wire Editor-In-Chief
By Feven Micael
Special To The Live Wire
Board Of Regents Pres. Dr. Gregory Gray, attended meetings on Oct. 15th to promote his vision for the future of higher education in Connecticut.
Gray’s stop was one of 17 he has been making to the state colleges and universities overseen by the Board of Regents. Gray talked about his efforts to implement a “world class system” for Ct higher education.
This plan, which was first proposed two years ago soon after the Board of Regents was created, has three major objectives. The first is restoration of trust and integrity in the system; secondly, building this new state system from scratch and lastly, planning for the future in this system.
Betty Benavides, who is on the executive board of the Manchester Community College Foundation, attended the first meeting. The foundation raises money, through events like the Annual Evening of Fine Wines in April, for scholarships and programs to support students at MCC. She said that with cuts by the legislature to funding for the colleges, the need for fundraising has increased and she wanted to hear Gray’s ideas for getting more funding for MCC.
Gray said the ideas for the future include considering where each school hopes to be 20 to 25 years from now and creating a road map to get there. He also mentioned adding college courses to high school curricula and enhancing the workforce missions in the colleges with programs geared towards careers in allied health, IT and financial services.
Gray said he and the board hope to improve enrollments, graduation rates and work skills along with accessing the operations of offices like the Registrars, Financial Aid and purchasing and possibly centralizing those functions to make them streamlined and more student friendly.
While taking questions from the audience, Gray was asked if there would be funding in the future for MCC’s athletics program, which was eliminated to save money earlier this year. Gray’s said that he realizes that athletics are important to the collegiate experience and will do whatever he can to help, but that funding will most likely come from private parties and not the state.
Another attendee, Chris Beckett, asked Gray if there is a chance that Ct students with high GPA’s who attend a state college will get free tuition like students do in states such as Georgia. Gray said he was not sure how states are able to do that, but that he hopes to work towards doing the same for Ct students.
Along side taking questions, Gray set out to explain his plan for Connecticut which he says mirrors his former school system. He believes Ct colleges would benefit by specialization of curriculum for certain marketable skills, so that a college like MCC would specialize in areas like the allied health nursing program.
When asked how students might be able to take part in a program that is specialized in a school that is not in their area, Gray explained that one of the advancements he is looking to make with Charter Oak State College would alleviate a problem like that. Charter Oak is Ct’s online state college.
This advancement of Charter Oak, is a second product of Gray’s plan for Ct and will dedicate the school to offering the majority of online classes to students. With the expansion of the role of Charter Oak in the state, it will mean a reduction in the amount of online classes offered at the other state schools. He said that he would not interfere with pre-existing programs of online study, but enrollment would be reduced as more online classes would be offered at Charter Oak.
Gray’s plan will also condense the state college system into one, more effectively than has been in the past. Students will have one application that will be filled out and used for any school in the system, and students will be considered full-time when taking partial work loads at multiple schools. Effectively allowing the school system to communicate better between colleges.
Gray’s overall message concluded with announcing the plan will entail enticements for students to transfer in the state system. So that the message students get from faculty and staff in their two-year community college is to transfer to a four-year university like Central Connecticut State University. He is also looking into how to give students tuition breaks when transferring in the system, and he thinks that will be part of the plan rolled out near the end of the school year.