Office of the Chancellor

The Chancellor of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) oversees CT State Community College, four state universities and Charter Oak State College, and serves more than 85,000 students.

2024 Communications

Feb 20, 2024 - Update on Today's Appropriation

Dear CSCU Community,

Today, we gave testimony before the legislature’s Appropriations Committee to underscore why our colleges and universities are the best investment the state can make.


VIDEO: Chancellor Terrence Cheng Provides Update on Appropriations Committee Hearing

Many members of the CSCU community joined us at the Legislative Office Building as we advocated for the additional funding needed to address the $47.6 million shortfall in fiscal year 2025.

I want to thank our college and university presidents – Ed Klonoski (Charter Oak State College); John Maduko (CT State); Elsa Núñez (Eastern Connecticut State University); Manohar Singh (Western Connecticut State University); Dwayne Smith (Southern Connecticut State University); and Zulma Toro (Central Connecticut State University) – and countless students, faculty, and staff who showed their support for our institutions at today’s hearing by highlighting how this funding can make a meaningful difference in students’ lives.

While our system makes an $11 billion annual impact on the state’s local economy, the real value lies in the significant and positive effect our institutions, faculty, and staff have on the lives of our students. For so many, our colleges and universities represent a vital gateway to social mobility, opportunity, and success.

With 78 days left in the 2024 legislative session, let's unite to secure the additional funding our system needs. Please consider reaching out to your legislators through calls, emails, testimony at public hearings, or personal meetings. Our dedicated faculty and staff, who interact with our students daily, play a critical role. Sharing personal stories about how your work has positively influenced students' lives and strengthened our communities is one of the most effective advocacy tools available.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to work closely with Governor Lamont’s office and state lawmakers to ensure higher education funding remains a top priority for the state this year.

Sincerely,   
Terrence Cheng   
CSCU Chancellor

Feb 14, 2024 - Academic and Student Affairs Update

Academic and Student Affairs Update

Dear CSCU Colleagues,

I am writing to provide you with important updates and organizational changes within the Office of Academic and Student Affairs at the system office.

We have recently realigned our leadership reporting structure in the following areas:

  • Dr. Nancy Becerra-Cordoba, our Associate Vice President for Decision Support and Institutional Research, will now report to Dr. Lloyd Blanchard, who is serving as the Interim Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer.
     
  • Dr. Aynsley Diamond, the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Lesley Mara, J.D., the Associate Vice President for Systemwide Initiatives and Sponsored Programs, will now report directly to me.

Dr. Diamond will take on additional responsibilities in overseeing day-to-day academic operations. Similarly, Lesley Mara will be expanding her role to further enhance and develop strategic partnerships for the CSCU system. With these changes, and an even closer alignment to the Chancellor’s office, we further strengthen our commitment to elevating academic parity and excellence across the system.

In addition, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Tamara O'Day-Stevens has joined the Academic and Student Affairs team as the Interim Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success. Previously serving at CT State Community College as the Associate Vice President of Teaching and Learning, Dr. O'Day-Stevens brings extensive experience and innovative approaches to student support and engagement, which are set to significantly enrich our academic community.

I appreciate your attention to these important updates and am excited about the positive impact these changes will have on our CSCU community. These adjustments reflect our ongoing dedication to advancing systemwide effectiveness and CSCU’s mission of delivering transformative educational opportunities throughout the state.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Feb 7, 2024 - 2024 Legislative Session

Dear CSCU Community,

Today marks the start of the 2024 legislative session. Every day from now until midnight on May 8, we will be fighting to ensure CSCU receives the funding it needs to continue to foster the next generation of teachers, nurses, manufacturers, and corporate leaders.

This year, state lawmakers are faced with a simple question: are the next generation of teachers, nurses and healthcare professionals, and manufacturers worth investing in; or will we stifle the growth of Connecticut’s workforce and economic future?  

Our faculty are second to none and are committed to doing everything they can to help our students succeed. But we can’t do this alone. It is critical for the Governor’s Office, state lawmakers, key stakeholders and advocates to all work together to implement a solution that puts our students first.

Over the coming weeks and months, we will advocate for the additional funding we need to address the $47.6 million shortfall in fiscal year 2025.

Our universities and colleges have an $11 billion annual impact on the state’s economy and play an integral role in the state’s success and ability to balance its operating budget. Now it is time for the state to help further support our students and their futures.

Our colleges and universities are key economic drivers, helping to meet the state’s needs. In spring 2023, we graduated more than 8,700 students, many with degrees in high demand fields such as health care, education, manufacturing, and business. In addition, an estimated total of more than 12,000 credentials were conferred during the spring 2023 semester.

In spring 2023, CSCU graduated 1,721 students in health professions and related clinical sciences; 1,648 students in business, management, marketing, and related support services; 946 students in education; 670 students in psychology; 568 students in advanced manufacturing; 384 students in public administration and social service professions; and 299 students in engineering technologies/technicians.

Through additional funding, this number will only grow, and we can continue to increase the number of workers we educate, train and graduate to meet Connecticut’s workforce shortage.

Our students have gone on to achieve remarkable milestones and accomplishments: Rhode Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, state legislators, members of Congress, professional athletes, governors, writers, teachers and school administrators, corporate leaders, and leading healthcare providers and manufacturers.

If we fail to invest in our students, we may miss out on an opportunity to be a main chapter in Connecticut’s growth story.

Governor Lamont has challenged businesses and aspiring leaders to “Make It Here.” Let’s help our students do just that by making critical investments in their education and career.

Sincerely,   
Chancellor Terrence Cheng

2023 Communications

Dec 19, 2023 - CSCU Retirement Incentive Program

Dear CSCU Colleagues:

Today, the Board of Regents approved a resolution concerning the CSCU Retirement Incentive Program.

The program will be offered to full-time unclassified faculty, non-teaching professionals, and management/confidential personnel within the CSCU system who are currently eligible for normal retirement under their respective retirement plans. It's important to note that for our unionized employees, participation in this program is contingent upon the agreement of their respective unions.

We recognize the importance of making well-informed decisions, particularly in retirement planning. To support this, we will ensure all eligible employees have access to expert advice and resources. This includes retirement and financial advisory services through Empower, designed to help individuals make the best choice for their future.

In the coming weeks, we will be diligently working with Human Resource leaders across the system to develop comprehensive guidance aimed to clarify eligibility, outline steps for participation and address any questions that our community may have. Please be on the lookout for that communication after the start of the new year.

Lastly, as we approach the holiday break, I encourage everyone to take this time to relax and enjoy the company of family, friends, and loved ones. Your hard work and dedication to CSCU are greatly appreciated, and I hope this break offers you a well-deserved rest.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Nov 22, 2023 - Thanksgiving Holiday Message

Thanksgiving Holiday Message


Dear CSCU Colleagues:

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you’ll join me in a moment of gratitude for our vibrant state college and university system. As we reflect on our many blessings, I know that I am incredibly thankful to be a part of this amazing system.

I’m grateful for our dedicated faculty and staff, who go above and beyond to support our students’ growth and success.

I’m inspired by our students, who approach each day with limitless determination, dedication and hard work that serve as an example for us all.

I’m humbled by the incredible community partners who share our commitment to academic excellence and preparing the next generation of Connecticut’s workforce.

There is much happening in the world that is hard. I hope we can all take a moment to recognize and lean into the good with us and around us and be thankful.

At this time, I also want to provide you with an update on the status of the system’s budget and our collective efforts to find balance as we move forward.

The State of Connecticut's current biennium budget allocation for CSCU falls significantly short of what is necessary to maintain our existing levels of operations, requiring us to creatively adapt and innovate in ways we might not have considered previously. Our multifaceted approach to deficit mitigation involves collaborative efforts and shared responsibility within our system. This plan includes technical adjustments updating our initial deficit projections, revenue enhancement initiatives, expenditure reductions, and utilizing cash reserves.

While we face significant challenges, our resolve remains unwavering. Our system is defined by its strength and our resilience – attributes that are a testament to the remarkable employees and students who contribute so tirelessly to our shared mission. Together, we hold the power to shape the future of higher education in Connecticut, ensuring that it remains an enduring force for good.

My wish is that this Thanksgiving break provides you with rest, joy, and quality time with loved ones.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Nov 10, 2023 - Gratitude for our Veterans

Dear CSCU Community,

As we commemorate Veterans Day, I would like to express my deepest gratitude and respect to the brave men and women who have served — and continue to serve — in our nation’s armed forces. Veterans Day is a powerful reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices military personnel and their families have made to our country.

Within our Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, we are proud of the faculty, staff, and approximately 2,100 student veterans who have served our country, and the invaluable contributions our veterans bring to the CSCU community. Please join me in honoring our heroes by expressing our appreciation for their service, dedication, and sacrifices.

On this day, we must also remember that the challenges faced by veterans do not end when they return home as many struggle with the transition to civilian life. The Board of Regents, CSCU system, and our individual institutions are committed to providing comprehensive support, resources, and assistance to veterans, ensuring they have the tools needed to succeed in their academic pursuits and in the workforce.

To the veterans who work and study in the CSCU system: thank you for your service. Together, we can build a community that acknowledges and celebrates the unique experiences and perspectives our veterans bring to our institutions.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Sep 14, 2023 - Welcome Back

WATCH CHANCELLOR CHENG’S WELCOME MESSAGE

Dear CSCU Community:

There is great work happening across the CSCU System — from the exciting launch of CT State, to the achievements of our faculty and students, to new facilities and dynamic initiatives. We have accomplished much since last year, and there is a great deal to be proud of. I invite you to view my Welcome Back message that highlights the remarkable things happening across CSCU’s six institutions, even as we continue to work toward addressing new challenges in an ever-evolving landscape. Working together, I look forward to a productive and rewarding academic year.

As we continue to play a critical role in giving our students the best possible academic experience by going above and beyond in helping them succeed, I wish our faculty, staff, and administrators the best.

I look forward to seeing all of you on campus this semester and send you positive wishes for the weeks and months ahead.

Sincerely,
Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Sep 11, 2023 - Welcoming Adam Joseph

Dear CSCU Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce that Adam Joseph, who currently serves as director of communications for the Office of Governor Ned Lamont, has agreed to join the CSCU system as our Vice Chancellor of External Affairs.

Adam brings valuable experience in strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and crisis management, having worked in multiple levels of state and local government. As director of communications for Governor Lamont, Adam leads a diverse team of communications specialists and is the administration’s lead communications strategist and primary on-the-record spokesperson.

He also works closely with legislative and policy departments to craft multi-audience communications plans and advocacy strategies to build support from the public and from within the Connecticut General Assembly for the governor’s legislative priorities. Adam manages the governor’s and state’s brand through strategic media relations, social media and advertising to shape media coverage and positive public perception of the administration.

Adam previously served as chief of staff for the Office of Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz throughout the duration of the Lamont administration’s first four-year term. In that role, Adam oversaw the office’s strategic planning, policy, communications, legislative matters, and operations. From 2011 to 2019, he served as communications director for Senate President Pro Tempores Don Williams, Jr., and Martin M. Looney, and the Connecticut Senate Democratic Caucus. Before that, he was communications director for then Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz. He began his career working in the New York State Senate. Adam is a graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

I look forward to working with Adam as he brings his extensive communications and external relations experience in state government to the CSCU system. I am confident that Adam’s commitment to shared collaboration and fostering strategic partnerships will be an asset to our colleges and universities.

Adam will officially begin on October 6, 2023, and with his hiring, the Chancellor’s executive team is complete. Team members include:

  • Dr. Rai Kathuria
    Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs
  • Dr. Lloyd Blanchard
    Interim Vice President for Administration and CFO
  • Jessica Paquette
    Vice Chancellor for System Affairs and Chief of Staff
  • Adam Joseph
    Vice Chancellor of External Affairs
  • Vita Litvin
    Interim General Counsel
  • Daniel Aniello
    Executive Director for System Project Management
  • Dr. Paul Beran
    Senior Advisor for System Innovation

In the meanwhile, I ask you to join me in welcoming Adam to CSCU.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Aug 16, 2023 - Thanking Dr. Beran and Introducing Dr. Singh

Dear CSCU Colleagues:

I am announcing this morning that Interim President Paul Beran will step back into an advisory role before the beginning of the fall semester. Over the past academic year, Dr. Beran has brought decisive leadership to WCSU, and I look forward to working with him as a contributor in the CSCU leadership team going forward.

“It has been my privilege to complete my higher education leadership and teaching career spanning forty-four years at Western Connecticut State University as the interim president this past year,” Beran said. “We have made significant changes in university leadership, institutional organization, and fiscal management strategies. Faculty, staff, and administration have worked together collaboratively to shape WCSU into the 21st century institution it must be to serve our students and the communities that depend on our university for an educated workforce. WCSU is now poised to re-emerge as a strong engine of innovation, inclusiveness, social awareness, and career readiness, led by a gifted faculty and dedicated administration.”

We will continue to build upon WCSU’s accomplishments under Dr. Beran’s leadership. To that end, it is my pleasure to announce that I am appointing Dr. Manohar Singh, who currently serves as dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Southern Connecticut State University, to succeed Dr. Beran as interim president at WCSU. For the past 11 months, Dr. Singh has been working closely with me as part of his American Council on Education fellowship and has gained invaluable insight, knowledge, and perspective about the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. He has significant academic experience and is an expert in both the practice and theory of public finance, having served in faculty positions at Penn State University, Willamette University, University of Nevada-Reno, Long Island University (LIU), University of New Hampshire-Durham, and University of New South Wales (Australia). Coming from a faculty position, he has a deep understanding and commitment to the principles of shared governance; indeed, he served as both chair and vice chair of the faculty senate for the Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies during his time at Penn State.

In addition, Dr. Singh – who is the first generation in his family to go to college – served as an academic administrator as dean of the College of Professional Studies at Humboldt State University, as division head for business and social sciences at Penn State Abington, and as interim chair of the Department of Finance at LIU – in addition to his current role at Southern Connecticut State University. He has also held governmental positions in India as a member of the Indian Civil Services.

I invite you to take a moment to learn more about Dr. Singh’s background. His experience will serve him well as he seeks to build a strong, cooperative, and productive relationship with WCSU’s faculty and staff.

About Dean Singh (southernct.edu)

Dr. Singh will begin his role on August 25, and while his title may be “interim president,” I expect him to be here for the long haul. I have the greatest confidence that he will build on Dr. Beran’s successes and rise to the challenge as an effective, collaborative, and stable leader for Western Connecticut State University.

“Higher education is about access and opportunity,” Dr. Singh added. “Western Connecticut State University has incredible assets, from a world-class faculty dedicated to academic excellence, to a committed and talented staff, to an intelligent, diverse and driven student body. Significant budgetary and demographic challenges of course remain. Yet, I am confident that the future of WCSU is bright. I intend to bring a collaborative approach to the interim presidency. I believe that it is only through adhering to the principles of shared governance that the university can live up to its full potential.”

Finally, in close consultation with the Board of Regents, after listening very carefully to the community’s concerns during WittKieffer’s listening tour in early May and during our many discussions with campus leadership groups, we will be suspending the WCSU presidential search. We heard in no uncertain terms that, given our current budget challenges, WCSU cannot wait a year and a half for a new president to get acclimated, and that we should focus our time and attention on the issues most pressing to WCSU’s students and the Danbury community. I hear those concerns; I agree, and I believe that the best path forward is to appoint an interim leader with significant experience in all aspects of higher education to guide the activities for the next few years.

I believe that Dr. Singh will be that leader, and I ask you to give him a warm welcome to Western Connecticut State University.
 

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Aug 2, 2023 - Fiscal Update

Dear CSCU Colleagues,

I hope your summer is going well. I am writing today with an update on the system’s current financial situation, and the direction of activities that will take place this coming year.

Over the course of this past year’s legislative session, so many of us worked hard to advocate for resources. Together we successfully made a case for and secured greater state funding for FY 2024. Still, some of our institutions face significant shortfalls in FY 2024, and, as a system, we are confronted with a projected deficit of $147 million for CSCU in FY 2025.  

We do indeed plan on significant advocacy efforts during the upcoming legislative session. Our situation requires no less. It is tempting to rely solely on the hope that our state partners will find additional funding. But expecting and relying on additional funds from the next legislative session, or depleting reserves to address the FY 2025 deficit and beyond, is not a viable strategic approach. The reality is that we must live within the budget as appropriated, and fully engage in the challenging work of aligning our operational expenditures within the available financial framework.

In the coming months, we will announce system-wide initiatives aimed at bolstering enrollment and generating additional revenue. In the meantime, to ensure that our students continue to experience quality and academic excellence, system office and institutional leaders are working together to develop budget deficit mitigation strategies that ensure the long-term fiscal health of our system and institutions. I have tasked our presidents with taking the lead on these inclusive efforts to find solutions that meet the needs of their campuses and communities. This will be a collaborative effort, and I, as well as your campus leadership team, will be in regular contact throughout the process to keep you updated on the progress and seek your guidance.  

I have full confidence in our system office and institutional leaders who are diligently working to develop short- and long-term strategies to improve our system’s outlook. We are committed to keeping you informed and engaged throughout this collaborative process, and to adhering to shared governance principles and processes. I am confident that we will navigate this together and emerge stronger than ever, moving beyond short-term mitigation and toward a sustained long-term trajectory that puts us on firm financial footing, as we continue to proudly serve the residents and communities of Connecticut.


Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Jul 25, 2023 - Welcoming Lloyd Blanchard

Dear CSCU Colleagues:
 
I am pleased to announce that Dr. Lloyd Blanchard, who currently serves as the vice president of strategic initiatives and planning, chief strategy officer and was formerly the interim vice president for finance and chief financial officer at UConn, has agreed to join the CSCU system as our interim vice president for administration and CFO.
 
Dr. Blanchard has extensive teaching, research, and administrative experience. Before joining UConn, where he has also served as a professor-in-residence in the School of Public Policy, he served in senior roles as senior vice president for administration and COO at Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York; vice provost for fiscal management at Louisiana State University; deputy CFO for policy at NASA; COO of the Small Business Administration; and program associate director for general government programs the White House Office of Management and Budget. He has also served on the faculty at Syracuse University and the University of Washington.
 
I have worked closely with Dr. Blanchard over the years. I know him to be a steadfast advocate for public higher education, a strong and collaborative leader, and a person of the highest integrity. He is also highly respected among our external partners.
 
These are challenging times for our system as we seek to confront a significant projected budgetary shortfall in FY25. That said, this is also a chance to create new paradigms and opportunities. I am confident that Dr. Blanchard’s poise, collegial approach, and expertise will help us in so many different capacities as we seek even greater cooperation between the system office, institutional leaders, employees, students, and all relevant stakeholders.
 
You can learn more about Dr. Blanchard by reading his CV or visiting his UConn website.
 

 
Dr. Blanchard will officially begin on September 8, 2023. In the meantime, I ask you to join me in welcoming him to CSCU.
 
Sincerely,
 
Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Jul 17, 2023 - Office of General Counsel Update

Dear CSCU Colleagues,

I am writing to make you aware that Ernestine Weaver, who has served as CSCU general counsel for more than a decade, will be moving into the role of senior advisor fellow. Ernestine is a talented attorney who has provided a steady voice in often turbulent times. I am grateful that she will continue to serve CSCU in her new capacity.

I am confident the Office of General Counsel will be in good hands, as Vita Litvin, who currently serves as associate general counsel, has agreed to take on the role of interim CSCU general counsel.

I know there have been a number of high-profile changes of late, and I want to assure you that my team and I are committed to smooth transitions while ensuring employees within those departments get the support they need to continue doing their jobs at a high level.

Collaboration, communication, and teamwork across the CSCU organization are more important now than ever, and I am confident that we will have the teams in place to be successful as we navigate the challenges on the horizon.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Jul 13, 2023 - System Office Update

Dear CSCU Colleagues:

I write today to make you aware of a significant change in the CSCU leadership team. After nearly five years as CSCU’s chief financial officer, Ben Barnes will be departing his post. Ben has been a consummate professional throughout his time here and in his previous roles in state government. I appreciate his service to CSCU, and I wish him nothing but the best in his next chapter.

I will reach out with additional information on the management structure for finance, human resources, facilities, and IT in the near future.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Jul 12, 2023 - CSCU Digital Barriers Survey

Dear CSCU Community,
 
Reliable access to broadband internet and connected technology continues to be a challenge that impacts students across our nation. The state of Connecticut was recently awarded $144 million to improve digital equity across the state, and our community has an opportunity to access this funding in support of students and our local communities.
 
Your participation in the CSCU Digital Barriers Survey, which is administered by the UConn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will have a direct impact on how these dollars are spent. The survey closes on Friday July 21, and I appreciate you taking 5-10 minutes to lend your perspective.
 


Sincerely,
 
Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU

Jul 3, 2023 - Happy Independence Day

Dear CSCU Colleagues,

As we prepare to step away to celebrate our nation's founding, I want to wish every member of our community a happy Fourth of July. I hope your holiday is filled with family and friends, and that you have the opportunity to relax and recharge.

America is a great country; its creation and roots run deep, and it has given people like me—an immigrant and person of color—a chance to be who and what I am today, serving people and institutions that I am so proud to serve. We are not perfect because nothing is perfect. But our journey, our task, our challenge is to make things better, each and every day.

I thank all of you for your hard work on behalf of our students over the past academic year, and happy Independence Day!

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
Chancellor, CSCU 

Jun 29, 2023 - Race-Conscious Admissions Ruling

Dear CSCU Community,

This morning, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the two cases related to affirmative action in college admissions. As was widely expected, the court stuck down the ability of selective colleges and universities, both public and private, to consider race as one factor of their admissions decisions.

While I don’t expect this ruling to have a significant impact on CSCU or its institutions, it should be alarming for all of us in higher education, chiefly because race-conscious admissions are by far the most effective means of increasing diversity at selective schools. We know this from experience. After California voters passed Proposition 209 banning affirmative in 1996, the percentage of Black and Latino students in UCLA and UC Berkley’s next first-year class plummeted by nearly half. Despite more than two decades of intensive and expensive efforts, the UC system continues to be less diverse than the state’s demographic makeup. Unfortunately, we can expect similar results at selective institutions in Connecticut.

This decision underscores the importance of investing in the CSCU system and other regional public institutions of higher education. We will continue to be the most important drivers of social mobility and workforce development – a responsibility we take with the utmost seriousness. But the removal of our colleague institutions’ most effective tool in undermining a legacy of structural racism is a serious step in the wrong direction and will result in furthering societal inequities.

I am also deeply concerned about the court’s potential willingness to strike down affirmative action in employment – a step that, if taken, would cause significant harm to CSCU’s efforts to foster a workforce that is reflective of the state and student body we serve.

I am disappointed – though not surprised – by today’s ruling. But it is yet another reminder of the importance of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work, and it only redoubles my commitment to that work as a central component of everything we do as higher education leaders.

Jun 28, 2023 - BOR Budget Actions

Dear CSCU Community:

Earlier this year, the Board of Regents (BOR) deferred action on several important items, including tuition and fees at CT State and Charter Oak, pending the resolution of the state budget. Today, the BOR adopted a spending plan for FY2024 that takes several important steps to solidify CSCU’s position for FY2024 and begins to make preparations for the $116 million cut in overall state funding expected in FY2025, the second year of biennial state budget.  

Some important action items include:  

  • A 5 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees at CT State; this represents a $266 annual increase for full-time community college students.
  • A 3 percent increase in undergraduate tuition and fees at Charter Oak and a 2 percent increase in graduate-level tuition and fees.
  • Requiring the system office to develop and administer procedures for all CSCU institutions to undertake a systemic review of academic offerings to ensure they are meeting student needs and workforce demands and are financially sustainable within anticipated state subsidy levels.
  • Charging CSCU leadership to conduct a thorough, data-driven analysis of the CSCU system organization, structures, policies, and practices and to make recommendations for the future of CSCU.
  • And requiring all CSCU institutions to develop and submit FY25 deficit mitigation plans to the Board of Regents by November 1, 2023 for their consideration and approval.

These are difficult decisions. The board and the system office understand the struggles our students face and see tuition increases as a last resort. At the same time, the financial reality driven by significant projected declines in state support are such that action is needed now.  

Over the coming year, we will continue to work in a collaborative manner, allowing institutional presidents and their leadership teams to take the lead on developing mitigation strategies for FY2025 that meet campus and community needs. They will approach this process with open ears and open minds, but with the understanding that we must do everything in our power to ensure the long-term viability of our colleges and universities. Our students deserve nothing less.

This represents a first step in that work, and as always, your institutional leaders and I will continue to keep you updated.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng 
Chancellor, CSCU 

Jun 21, 2023 - CT State Receives NECHE Accreditation

Dear CSCU Community,

I am pleased to share with you a message that Dr. John Maduko sent yesterday to our community college colleagues announcing that CT State Community College has officially received accreditation from the New England Commission for Higher Education (NECHE).

After several years of hard work and preparation, NECHE’s accreditation of CT State is a monumental milestone. From the Board of Regents who provided vision and guidance, to system, institutional and campus leaders who created and executed strategies, to the faculty and staff who worked so hard to merge curricula and processes, this has been a collaborative effort.

Since its inception, this merger has been about ensuring we meet the needs of the students we serve. I am more confident than ever, after this vote of confidence from our accreditor, that we will be in a position to provide better, more accessible educational options and improved services.

This has not always been easy, but if we are ultimately able to better serve our students, our communities, and our state, it will have been more than worthwhile.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

 

Greetings, Colleagues and Friends,

The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), at its June 16 meeting held in York Harbor, Maine, voted to grant initial accreditation to Connecticut State Community College effective July 1, 2023.

For over seven years, thousands of stakeholders and tens of thousands of hours have made this momentous plan a reality.

We are very pleased with the commission’s decision to approve our candidacy, which officially allows for the consolidation of our 12 legacy community colleges and the launch of Connecticut State Community College as a singly accredited multi-campus institution.

While there is still much work to be done through a continuous improvement process, this announcement marks a pivotal milestone in our college’s early history in establishing our mission of transforming lives and communities here in the great state of Connecticut through higher education.

We are thankful and humbled for the commission’s acknowledgment that CT State clearly complies with all nine of NECHE’s Standards of Accreditation, signifying a quality institution.

We now await the official letter from NECHE at the beginning of next month that will outline a series of steps to ensure we maintain our progress and prepare for a site visit on our campuses in the Spring of 2025, followed by a focus evaluation in the Fall of 2027.

Our next steps will be to continue finalizing the technical and regulatory aspects of the merger, prepare to welcome CT State’s inaugural class this fall semester, address the concerns around the logistics of the merger, and work in partnership with our faculty and staff to stabilize the initial aspects of our new college.

Many thanks to the faculty, staff, and administrators from across our campuses and in New Britain who tirelessly worked to help CT State satisfy and comply with NECHE’s standards, our colleagues in the CSCU shared services departments of finance, IT, general counsel, human resources, and facilities for their support and involvement throughout the process, our Board of Regents and President Cheng’s office, and last, but not least Drs. Michael Rooke and Mary Ellen Jukoski for their leadership in managing the progress report process.

Please click the link below to view NECHE’s public statement on CT State’s approval for initial accreditation.

Public Statement on Connecticut State Community College 

In Partnership,

John Maduko, M.D. (he/him/his)
President
Connecticut State Community College

Jun 16, 2023 - Celebrating Juneteenth

Dear CSCU Community:

On Monday, we will recognize Juneteenth for the first time as an official state holiday in Connecticut.

Juneteenth represents a pivotal moment in American history, marking the day when the last enslaved people in the United States, in Galveston, Texas, were finally informed of their freedom on June 19, 1865. This day of jubilation and liberation is a reminder of the resilience and strength of African American communities in the face of unimaginable adversity.

It is also a reminder, I would argue, that in higher education, we have a responsibility to recognize and confront the injustices that stem from the painful history of chattel slavery in our nation and its lasting impact on the lives of Black Americans — in health care, housing, education, the justice system, and more. Through public higher education, we can confront these dark legacies, and empower today’s students and future generations to effect change that builds a more just and inclusive society. By acknowledging and celebrating Juneteenth, we reaffirm our commitment to fostering an environment where every individual is valued and respected.

I would also like to extend my deepest gratitude to the members of our community who have championed the recognition of Juneteenth as a state holiday in Connecticut. Your efforts have contributed to this important milestone, and I applaud your dedication to social justice. At a time when state legislatures across our country are attacking DEI, this work is more important than ever.

As we celebrate Juneteenth, let us remember the past, honor the present, and work collectively towards a future where equity and justice prevail. Thank you for the hard work you do at your institutions, and for our system. I hope the summer gets off to a great start for you all.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Jun 6, 2023 - State Budget Update

Dear CSCU Community:

As you may have seen, the legislature has passed, and the governor is expected to sign, the biennial state budget. There is some good news for CSCU and our students in this bill including more than $100 million in additional funding above the original budget proposal and an expansion of eligibility for the PACT program to include non-first-time students.

I appreciate the efforts of our lawmakers and the Lamont administration in finding additional funding to help support our students and operations. It represents significant progress for FY2024. However, the reality is that, as the budget is structured, we will still be left with a significant shortfall in FY2025, the second year of the biennium.

Every community across Connecticut benefits from the work of CSCU institutions. Our students—who come from Connecticut, are educated and trained in Connecticut, and stay to live and work in Connecticut—look to us for opportunities they would not have otherwise. We are the engine of social mobility and workforce development for the state, and we will go back to the legislature during the 2024 legislative session to advocate for necessary funding for our public colleges and universities. Our students, faculty, and staff deserve no less.

That said, we must begin preparing mitigation measures. I will work closely with our presidents, who will take the lead in developing these plans at each institution. Please know that we will work collaboratively throughout this process, and we will do everything in our power to minimize the impact of these actions on our students, employees, and communities.

I will continue to provide regular updates about the actions we are taking, as well as opportunities to continue advocacy efforts.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Jun 1, 2023 - Pride Month

Dear CSCU Community:
 
My message to our LGBTQ+ communities this Pride Month is a simple one: I stand with you, and I support you. We are living through a time when attacks against LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ identity are unquestionably on the rise. We hear stories every day about attempts to ban books, deny gender affirming care to trans people, or restrict the ability of educators to address students by their correct pronouns. It is a sad state of affairs when people in positions of power use their voice to bully marginalized communities. And it underscores the importance of the love and acceptance showcased during Pride.
 
This month, we celebrate the uniqueness of our LGBTQ+ friends, colleagues, students, and fellow community members. We recognize the beauty of individuality, and we stand together – on the shoulders of those who rose up at Stonewall, in the halls of Congress, and in the courts – in support of the right of every person to live their truth and exist in peace.
 
The Board of Regents has long been committed to fostering a supportive environment for all students to learn and grow. In recent years, the board has adopted policies related to use of gender identity and pronouns, use of a preferred first name, and inclusive facilities accommodations for trans and nonbinary people. Our institutions have LGBTQ+ centers with resources and services to help students thrive, as well as guidance to help faculty members be as supportive as possible in the classroom. I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the resources available on our campuses, and I thank the dedicated faculty and staff members who make these centers so successful. Your work truly changes lives.
 

 
To every member of our community who identifies as LGBTQ+: You are seen, you are valued, and your voice matters. Happy Pride!
 
Sincerely,
 
Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

May 26, 2023 - Memorial Day

Dear CSCU Community:
 
This Memorial Day weekend, we pause to reflect on perhaps the most solemn of holidays we observe, as we pay tribute to the American service members killed in the line of duty. We honor their courage and selflessness, and we acknowledge that their sacrifice has made the world a better, safer, and freer place.
 
The state of Connecticut maintains a tribute to those who died in the line of duty since September 11, 2001 through the Wall of Honor, which is physically located in the concourse between the State Capitol and the Legislative Office Building and has an accompanying website with remembrances of the fallen service members. If you have a moment, I encourage you to read about the people with ties to Connecticut who gave their lives in combat. It is a tragic and wrenching reminder of the human toll of war.
 

 
People with Connecticut ties include our students, one of whom was Army Chief Warrant Officer William Brennan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 at the age of 36. CWO Brennan was not only a father who was active in his community of Bethlehem, he was also a graduate of Mattatuck Community College (today Naugatuck Valley), where he concurrently served in the National Guard. Like far too many others, CWO Brennan was taken far too soon, and this weekend we honor him and all who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
 

 
Mr. Brennan’s story is also a reminder of the sacrifices borne by Gold Star families. I did not serve in the military, but I am a parent, and I can only imagine the enduring pain the families of the fallen must experience on a daily basis. I can only imagine the acute emotions this weekend must exacerbate. So, I keep the parents, children, spouses, siblings, friends, and service members who served alongside of those who died in the line of duty in mind this Memorial Day.

 
Sincerely,
 
Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

May 18, 2023 - Thanking President Núñez

Dear CSCU Community:

As you may have heard, earlier this morning, Eastern Connecticut State University President Elsa Núñez announced her intention to retire. Dr. Núñez will leave a strong legacy at Eastern, having served with distinction for 18 years. Under her able leadership, the university has grown stronger, cementing itself as the state’s public liberal arts institution. She has transformed the physical and academic landscape of the campus, building bridges to the community, and steadfastly advocating for the students she has been entrusted to serve.

Dr. Núñez has also been an invaluable asset to the system in her role as vice president for universities. I have benefited from her guidance and expertise over the past two years, and deeply appreciate her commitment to students and academic excellence. She has high standards, and I’ve watched her face challenges fearlessly and with the best interest of the institution and the Eastern community centered at all times.

Ultimately, Dr. Núñez’s work is grounded in faith and family, kindness and respect, and of all things, this may be what I admire most about her. While her retirement is certainly well-deserved, I am sad to see her go, and I have no doubt that she will continue to make an impact in her next chapter.

Today is about celebrating Dr. Núñez and her service to Eastern, the CSCU system, and the state of Connecticut. In coming weeks, I will be in touch about next steps for selecting her successor. It is my hope that we will be able to appoint a permanent president by the time her retirement is official.

Once again, I congratulate Dr. Núñez on a job well-done for 18 years, and I am happy to have her as a partner for one more year.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

May 1, 2023 - Asian/Pacific Heritage Month

Dear CSCU Community:

In recognition of Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I would like to recognize the contributions that AAPI students, faculty, staff, and administrators make daily to the broader CSCU community. From academic achievements to artistic and cultural insights, the talents and expertise of our AAPI colleagues and friends strengthen our institutions and campuses and help to create a vibrant and inclusive community. We honor their talent, perseverance, and dedication, and acknowledge the challenges they have faced and continue to face, particularly as vitriol and outright violence against Asians in the U.S. have increased in recent years.
 
In particular, I want to lift up the scholarly work of those colleagues who have devoted their professional careers to Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander studies. The institutions across our system are fortunate to have outstanding faculty and staff supporting academic programs and courses, as well as student groups, cultural centers and more. Our faculty members have conducted important research in a multitude of academic arenas: Asian and Asian-American history and diaspora studies, language and anthropology, intercultural communication, economics, life sciences, computer science and engineering, business, management, and more. Their work, the creation of new knowledge, combined with pedagogical prowess only helps to enrich our students’ educations.
 
In that vein, I was asked by Dr. Karen Ritzenhoff, Professor of Communication at Central Connecticut State University, to give a talk last month at "Squid Game & Beyond: Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary Asian Popular Culture,” a conference hosted at CCSU that examined the evolution and influence of Asian popular culture. It was an honor to be included amongst a cast of esteemed scholars from Connecticut, and from around the world. The link to the recorded talk is here, and the transcript is also included at the end of this message.
 


Lastly, I must confess, I am conflicted writing these messages that celebrate the contributions and achievements of certain ethnic and cultural groups. On the one hand, it is necessary and important to shine light on the work of those who are part of minoritized groups. On the other hand, I fear we only strengthen historically inequitable structures that compartmentalize people as “the other” when we lean into such traditions that reinforce separation.
 
I would argue that every month is and should be Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, Native American Heritage Month, Pride Month, Disability Awareness Month, AAPI Heritage Month, and so on. The mosaic of this nation’s history, and future, is built on the blood, muscle, and bone of all our people. But until we can recognize that, without it having to be highlighted; until every thread of the American tapestry is accepted for its full value and contributions, we will take the opportunity to celebrate everyone who makes CSCU, Connecticut, and our nation strong.

I hope you all have a great end to the semester. Thank you for your hard work.
 
Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

 

Pres. Terrence Cheng: Squid Game and Beyond Talk Transcript

Good morning everyone! I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person today. I had been planning on being there, but state business has pulled me away. But I know this entire conference is going to be amazing.

I want to thank Karen Ritzenhoff and all of the conference organizers for the hard work they have put in to make this happen. Dr. Ritzenhoff saw me walking around campus last fall and asked me if I’d like to speak. Of course, I said yes—what an honor to be among so many distinguished critics and scholars from Connecticut, the U.S., and around the world!

I’ll admit, I don’t believe I was invited to give a talk because of my scholarly expertise in this area. I was invited because I’m the chancellor of our system, and because I’m Asian.

And you know what? That’s ok! But I hope to contribute to this conference with some perspective, and my personal story.

Because the fact that you are having this conference is important. It’s important to research, and critical to the academic lens and rising trajectory of several fields.

It’s also important to people like me, who decades ago never would have dreamed of a conference like this. Finally, it’s important to our students, who will normalize these next few days and expect such dialogue, investigation, and focus to be the baseline as they continue in their own journeys.

So: who am I? I was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1972 and moved to the U.S. with my parents in 1973. My parents both had good jobs in Taiwan but came to the U.S. for a better life—for me. But life at first was not necessarily better.

My mother spoke some English, so she waited tables. My father did not speak good English, so he pumped gas and stocked grocery shelves. We didn’t have a lot of money—and somehow they made it work. This is not an uncommon story, but to me, back then, it felt uncommon.

We lived in Levittown, NY, the only non-white family in our neighborhood. At school, I was teased and bullied. I didn’t understand anything about anything, except that I was different. I didn’t learn about Levittown’s racist past until I was maybe in my 30s, and frankly I didn’t think about or understand anything about structural or systemic racism until I was well into my 40s. As a kid growing up, I just knew I was an outsider.

But growing up wasn’t all horrible. There were a lot of things I loved and looked forward to: like Kung Fu Theater.

Some of you may remember if you grew up in the 80s—every Saturday afternoon, there was a kung fu movie, and you scrambled to make sure you were in front of that TV to watch.

These were mostly Hong Kong films made in the 70s, poorly dubbed and 100% scintillating. “The Five Deadly Venoms,” and “Five Fingers of Death,” or “Unbeatable Dragon”…you see my point. For a 10 year old Chinese kid in New York, those two hours every Saturday were an important escape.

What would it be like to be a chiseled, fearless warrior, the slayer of evil, or savior of a land? What would it be like to be able to use your fists and feet, not to mention swords and spears and num-chuks like that—to be superhuman and fly through the air with kicks and twists and spins?

Because growing up in the 80s, day to day, I had no such heroes. I already worshipped Bruce Lee even though he died just one year after I was born. But his myth, his legacy, had already somehow permeated my sensibilities and I knew that he was the ultimate.

The flying kicks, the 12-pack abs, the one-inch punch, the speed and grace of a killer angel and the facial expressions to make sure we all knew that if he was killing someone, or just kicking their ass, he truly, truly meant it!

Later this conference you’ll hear from Charles Yu, and he will talk about his brilliant novel “Interior Chinatown.” Please don’t miss that talk. His book breaks down, better than I ever could, why Bruce Lee was—and still is—the ultimate.

We loved Bruce Lee so much that we even loved his impersonators—Bruce Li, or Bruce Le, and I’m sure there were at least one of two others.

It didn’t matter! Those folks looked like me and did things I wished I could do. They allowed a young Chinese boy in NY to dream.

Because when there wasn’t Kung Fu theatre or a Bruce Lee knock-off, there was no me, or fantasy me, on screen. Even the martial arts movies I grew up with—"Karate Kid” or “Bloodsport” or movies with Chuck Norris and eventually Steven Seagal—had white heroes.

Let’s meditate on that for a second—martial arts movies, with white heroes.

Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed them. I will still sit down and watch “Karate Kid” from whichever point I pick it up when I’m flipping channels. But Asian faces were not present on big or small screens.

Even the television series “Kung Fu”—think about it, the show’s title is “KUNG FU”—starred a non-Asian actor playing a Shaolin monk. A role that Bruce Lee—the REAL Bruce Lee—was passed up for!

So: ages 12 through 18 were kind of a blur. I was one of 3 Asians in my high school. I couldn’t ignore it, but I did everything I could to not think about race. I was still an outsider, and nothing was going to change that. I just tried to blend in day-to-day and survive.

I do remember one moment during that time, and it would be a moment that would, eventually, change my life.

I was a senior in high school, and working at a nightclub—picking up garbage, stocking the bar. We were closing, but I saw on the television, images of smoke and fire, shadows and chaos. I saw Asian faces—Chinese faces. I saw soldiers with guns and tanks and people hurt and crying. I saw anguish, and I saw blood.

This was not a show, or a movie. I was watching coverage of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

I remember feeling numb, not sure what to think or what to do.

So I went back to work, and then I went home, and eventually I went to bed.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I distinctly remember Asian faces on screen again. It was the 90s, and there was talk of a new show. It was going to be groundbreaking. It was going to change things. It was going to give us Asians hope and a kind of representation in the mainstream that we’d never had before. Maybe it was the kind of show that would validate us, prove that we deserved respect—that we were not outsiders, but legitimate threads of the American tapestry like everyone else.

This is what we saw.

In college, I decided I was going to be a writer. So I studied and found my literary heroes: Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, William Faulkner.

See any similarities?

I didn’t study Chinese or Asian writers. I was too ignorant and too stubborn to explore, still pushing away my Chinese history and heritage. I didn’t listen to the advice of my professors. They told me that my writing was good, technical, but lacked heart and depth and passion.

I told them they were wrong; doesn’t that sound familiar?

It wasn’t until graduate school that I started to listen. My advisors, John Balaban and Lester Goran, pushed me. They both had incredible stories and work driven by their experiences, their passions, the disruptions and tragedies and joys that shaped their lives.

So I asked myself: what pushed me, what shaped me, what disrupted me? And it forced me to see and embrace who I was, and who my family was.

Imposter syndrome is real until you become comfortable with who you are. Then you are no longer an imposter.

I thought back to Tianamen Square, that night in the club watching destruction burn. Just a day later, there would be the man in front of the tank.

I wanted to know who he was.

Writing “Sons of Heaven” was cathartic. The novel imagines the life of “tank man.” It was a test. It was an obsession. And it is the one thing that has instrumentally and tangibly changed every aspect of my life.

“Sons of Heaven” to me was a reconciliation. I had to reconcile the fact that there was so much I didn’t know—about Chinese history, about my own family’s history, and about myself.

There was also the process of writing for validation—would the book be published? Would it be successful? Would it make a difference and matter in the world?

It was published, fortunately. But was it successful? Yes and no. Did it become a movie and make me filthy rich? No. Did I even earn out my advance? Not even close!

But did it help me in my life? Absolutely. So I’m going to call it a success.

Did it make a difference or matter in the world? I’ll say this: just a few years ago, I was on a panel with someone who said “Sons of Heaven” was the first book he had read where he felt he saw himself.

I was blown away. Because if you can create art that moves people, that makes them connect, makes them feel seen—then it matters. Maybe that is how we should calibrate success.

My second novel was a bit of a lark. My wife and I got married on a Saturday, and on Sunday our wedding announcement came out in the NY Times. On Monday I got a call from an editor, an Asian woman who had read “Sons of Heaven.” She asked me if I wanted to write a book.

“Deep in the Mountains” was published less than two years later, and it was another journey of reconciliation. It allowed me to delve further into art—the study of Zhu Qizhen and Chinese painting, and connecting that to my own grandmother, who was a politician but also a painter.

It allowed me to examine my own past, the complex relationship between immigrant parents and first-generation children, the balance between being seen and unseen, being young and finding yourself and coming to terms with who and what you are.

I don’t get a lot of fan-mail these days, which is the nice way of saying, I don’t get fan-mail. “Deep in the Mountains” certainly did not make the Amazon Top 100 list, much less the NY Times bestseller list. I don’t know if “Deep in the Mountains” has been read by some Chinese or Asian kid out there who might say, “Wow, I get that.” Or they might say, “This story is dumb.” I don’t know.

But if they read it, maybe they’ll see and feel even a small glimmer or twinge. Maybe it will make them feel comfortable and ok, just for a moment, like they belong on the page, or the screen, or in the classroom,  or conference room, or just in life.

Maybe it will tell them that their challenge is a shared one, and that they are not alone. I hope this is the case, and if it is, then this book, too, I would call a success.

It wasn’t until after grad school, when I was working, that I remember a film with all-Asian characters and an Asian story in the mainstream.

I’d never seen anything like it—“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” directed by the great Ang Lee. It’s a martial arts film, but it’s also a drama, and a period piece; a sliver of Chinese history and mythological fiction, that’s well acted, beautifully produced, and ultimately groundbreaking.

I think it’s clear we’ve made even more progress in the last 23 years since “Crouching Tiger.”

So here I’m going to remind you—I’m just a guy, a writer. I’m not a filmmaker or historian. If I miss a title in this list, don’t get mad at me!

But what an abundance of talent and variety of stories and representation we have today. “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “Minari,” “Pachinko” and “Parasite,” “Shang Chi,” and animated films like “Turning Red” and “Bao” and so much more.

Of course there is the namesake of this conference, the indelible “Squid Game.” And now—maybe next year’s conference?—“Everything Everywhere All at Once”!

These are great works; some of them will become legend. They tell remarkable stories and they make us see and feel in ways we have not before, with characters we have historically never seen portrayed as anything but “the other.”

They show us what I had hoped All-American Girl might begin to show—that we are here, that we belong, that we are human and not “the other.”

We are not objects or punchlines or sideshows or affectations. We are indeed legitimate strands of America and the American story. The penetration and permeation of these great works drives home that message, charts that path, and paves the way.

But why is this so important to me personally?

Because the 10 year old kid in me, who wished he wasn’t Chinese, who just wanted to be like everyone else—that kid sees where we are now and knows the pain was worth it, and knows he is not alone.

The 30 year old me, the writer trying to find his way, looking for a path beyond tokenism, who was mystified by barriers he could not see and did not understand—wondering about white editors and why would they care, and white readers, why would they care?

That struggling upcoming writer and young man, knows that he wasn’t all wrong, and knows he is part of something that grew into something more, and that he was not, and is not alone.

The 50 year old me, the professor and administrator, the husband and father. He sees progress and knows that his children, and maybe someday his grandchildren, will find all this to be normal: Asians on TV, Asians in movies, Asians in books and in music. Maybe BTS won’t be a k-pop band anymore—they’ll just be a band.

This 50 year old (51 to be exact) can have more faith that the world will accept his daughters without thinking, and not find their pearl and golden skin and round faces and almond-shaped eyes to be of any note at all. They will just be, which is all any of us can truly want.

I said at the beginning that this conference is important—all of your work in this vein, in this arena, is important. The arc and trajectory that you are contributing to is important. It is important to me, it is important to us, and it is important to all who will come after.

So I thank you. With such events, they are suis generis and cannot be replicated. Please take all this in because it will not happen exactly this way, with anyone, ever again.

That is art, that is passion, and that is life. I’m grateful that you have spent this time with me, and thank you for continuing this important work.

Apr 24, 2023 - Budget Update

Dear CSCU Community: 
 

This morning, I will be joined by the leaders of our institutions, members of the Board of Regents, legislators, students, and other allies to host a news conference that gives me no joy whatsoever to hold. We will announce the actions we would be forced to consider should the state budget, as it is currently proposed, become law. To be blunt, it’s devastating. 
 

We would be forced to issue 650 layoffs to full-time faculty and staff and eliminate nearly 3,000 part-time positions. The inadequate staffing will lead to diminished services for students at a time when greater investment is needed, just as it harms hundreds of valuable employees.   
 

It would lead to program closures, shutting down high subsidy programs. Of course, our highest-cost programs that rely most on state support are those that meet the state’s greatest workforce needs. 
 

And it would force the BOR to begin evaluating which of our institutions and campuses have the resources to sustain these cuts and which do not. 
 

Put simply, the proposed budget would harm students, harm the state’s workforce, and harm communities.
 

But this is just the beginning. Over the coming weeks and months, we are preparing a full-court advocacy press, reminding lawmakers and other state partners of the invaluable, lifechanging services CSCU provides.
 

That starts on Thursday, April 27, with a CSCU day of action at the Capitol, where our students, faculty, staff, and administrators will join together to speak with legislators about the importance of the CSCU system and the how the budget proposal would harm institutions, students, employees, and the communities we serve.
 

Please note: Students who are not working or in class and employees are encouraged to participate. (Employees should discuss their plans with their supervisor to ensure that we can maintain department operations, adequate coverage, staffing, etc.)  
 

We will meet in the atrium of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) at 10:30am and proceed to the Capitol where we will engage with members outside the House and Senate chambers, where they are expected to gavel in at 11am. We anticipate that the event will last 2 to 3 hours. Also, we encourage you to wear your institution's apparel/gear.  
 

In the meantime, please call, email, or meet with your legislators. Sharing your personal stories about how your work helps change students’ lives and improve our communities is among the most powerful advocacy lawmakers receive. Your help can make a real difference.  
 

As always, I will continue to keep you updated on ways we can work together to sustain our push for fair funding, but please know that this is far from over. Together, I am confident that we can ultimately come to a fair resolution.  
 

 
Sincerely, 
 

Terrence Cheng 
President, CSCU  

Apr 18, 2023 - Appropriations Committee Budget

Dear CSCU Community:
 
This afternoon, the legislature’s Appropriations Committee is debating and is expected to advance their version of the biennial budget. The committee did add some one-time funding to the governor’s original proposal. However, the Appropriations budget falls far short of the needs we identified in CSCU 2030, and – to be frank – it would not meet the basic operating needs we have presented to the administration and legislature. I fear that, if enacted, the consequences of this budget would be devastating to our institutions, employees, students, and the communities we serve.
 
We know that our faculty and staff’s work literally changes lives and creates real upward mobility for our students. We know that our institutions are the lifeblood of the communities they serve, and we know that CSCU is the most important component of the state’s workforce pipeline. Without sufficient funding from the state, all of this would be at risk.
 
Particularly in a year that the state is seeing overflowing revenue and as our enrollment begins to rebound from COVID-related declines, I believe that the choice to inadequately fund our system would be a shortsighted and costly mistake.
 
In the coming weeks, legislative leadership and the administration will meet to negotiate a final budget, so we still have the opportunity to make our case for fair funding for our public colleges and universities. As a part of that push, I will work closely with campus leaders as well as our collective bargaining units to share publicly exactly what a lack of necessary investment would mean for our institutions, staff and students. Now more than ever is the time for collective advocacy, and you will play a critical role in those efforts. I will share information as it becomes available on the impact of this budget on CSCU.
 
In the meantime, we need your voice now. Please call, email, or meet with your legislator. As I’ve noted before, at some point, every member of the General Assembly votes on the budget. Advocacy from constituents to ensure CSCU is funded at adequate levels for sustainability and growth makes a real difference for legislators.
 

 
Sincerely,
 
Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Apr 14, 2023 - Finance Committee Testimony

Dear CSCU Community,
 
Today at 10:00a.m., our team from CSCU will testify at a public hearing of the legislature’s Finance, Revenue, and Bonding committee in support of SB 1246, the bill containing the $2.1 billion request for physical and digital infrastructure projects outlined in the CSCU 2030 proposal. We will highlight the critical work CSCU does to provide education and workforce opportunities to Connecticut residents, while pointing out that the lack of sufficient state investment in our physical spaces in recent years sends a troubling message to our students and raises real equity concerns. In addition, eight panels of campus leaders, faculty members, staff, and students will share their perspective with the committee on the need for investment in our facilities.
 
As people who work and learn in our facilities every day, you don’t need to be told of the serious need for investment. One need look no further than Kinney Hall at Naugatuck Valley, the B-Wing at Norwalk, Wheaton and Snow Halls at Middlesex, Morrill Hall at Southern, or the needs identified on every campus in CSCU 2030 to come to that realization. But the fact of the matter is that of the more than 15 million square feet of space CSCU institutions occupy, the average age is more than 20 years old. In short, students, staff and faculty continue to rely on aging, outdated, and deteriorating facilities, and without a clear plan and dedicated, multi-year source of funding, those deficiencies will only be exacerbated.
 
In recent weeks and months, our campus leaders and their teams reached out to legislators and personally showed them the results of a lack of investment in our facilities. I want to thank everyone who has participated in that process. Allowing lawmakers to see where the need lies has helped to make a much more powerful case for necessary funding than our descriptions or pictures ever could.
 
I encourage you to tune in to our testimony via the committee's YouTube channel or CT-N, read the materials we are presenting, and to submit written testimony of your own in support of SB 1246. Your voice can make a real difference.
 


I will continue to keep you updated as the legislative session progresses.
 
Sincerely,
 
Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Mar 31, 2023 - Trans Day of Visibility

Dear CSCU community,

Today, on Transgender Day of Visibility, we come together to celebrate our trans colleagues and students for their incredible talents, unique perspectives, and the strength they bring to our community. As CSCU president, I recognize the importance of uplifting and supporting our trans community, and I am committed to trans inclusivity.

There is no doubt that this is a difficult time to be a trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming person. Despite living in a state with some of the most inclusive laws and policies in the country, we are still seeing proposed legislation here in Connecticut that seeks to strip trans people of their humanity. It is, sadly, part of a movement around the country to attack some of society's marginalized groups. To me, this is unacceptable and goes against all for which we stand.

My office recognizes the importance of celebrating our differences and embracing diversity in all its forms. We will continue to work with each of our institutions and campuses within CSCU to continue to fight for trans rights. The Board of Regents has consistently supported trans-inclusive policies, and we will do everything we can to confront divisive rhetoric and legislation that would harm those who are already marginalized.

Today, and every day, we offer love and support to our trans community. We recognize the struggles you face and the challenges you overcome, and we honor your resilience and courage. We celebrate your uniqueness and contributions to our community and commit to creating a safe and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Mar 31, 2023 - Welcoming Southern’s Interim President

Dear CSCU Community,

As you may have heard, beginning June 1, Dr. Dwayne Smith will assume the role of interim president of Southern Connecticut State University. Since 2020, Dr. Smith has served as campus CEO of Housatonic Community College, where he has brought unparalleled energy and passion to the job, immersing himself in the Bridgeport community and tirelessly advocating for the campus and its students.

Dr. Smith has deep academic experience at the university level, both as a faculty member and an administrator. Before coming to Housatonic, he served as interim president Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Missouri, following his successful 13-years as that institution’s provost. Previously, Dr. Smith served as an assistant vice president of academic affairs at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri. He was also associate vice president for enrollment management and assistant professor of education at Park University in Parkville, Missouri, a faculty member in the graduate school of Education at the University of Missouri Columbia, and an associate dean of multicultural affairs, at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, where he created the university’s first diversity department.

Throughout his career, he has helped secure more than $16 million in external funding. He has received numerous awards and honors for his service to the community – including being recognized as one of the Connecticut NAACP’s 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut in 2021. He is a sought-after presenter at academic conferences. And he has been heavily involved in academic committee work. In short, he has the skill and experience to be a highly successful leader for the Southern community.

Perhaps most importantly, he is deeply committed to the university’s mission as a social justice institution. He understands the transformational power of public higher education and the awesome responsibility that comes with educating our students.

In coming to this decision, I spoke at length with President Joe Bertolino, who recommended Dr. Smith without hesitation. I am fully confident that Dr. Smith’s immense higher education skills, scholarship, and experience, as well as his infectious enthusiasm will serve Southern well, and I hope you will join me in giving him a warm welcome to campus.

Terrence Cheng 
President, CSCU 

Mar 8, 2023 - Celebrating International Women's Day - #EmbraceEquity

Dear CSCU Community:

I am writing to commemorate International Women's Day, which is celebrated annually on March 8, to recognize the contributions and achievements of women in all spheres of life. This year's theme, #EmbraceEquity, aligns with our organizational mission of opportunity and social mobility.
 


Today, and every day, we should celebrate the hard work and dedication of all the women in our community who inspire us with their strength, resilience, and determination to succeed.
 
It is important to point out that International Women's Day is not just a recognition of cisgender women. Trans women are women. They are our friends, colleagues, students, and members of our community who have been traditionally left out and, sadly, continue to be attacked across the country, and even in our own state, by divisive agendas and harmful policies that are meant to marginalize and dehumanize.

The theme of #EmbraceEquity is a call to action for us all to strive for a more just and equal world, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other aspect of their identity; a world where women, including trans women, can live without fear of discrimination or violence, where their voices are heard and their contributions are valued.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us reflect on the progress we have made in advancing gender equity and acknowledge that there is still work to be done. Women continue to face obstacles to accessing education, health care, and economic opportunities, and these disparities are even more pronounced for women of color, women with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ women.

Let us also pay tribute to the many women leaders who shape our system and state. More than half of our campus leaders are women, and nearly 60 percent of our overall employees identify as female. We are stronger because we endeavor to embrace diverse perspectives and learn from people's lived experiences.

Just one example of an inspirational woman whose strength and perspective adds much to our system's cultural fabric is Sara Niazai, a student at Gateway Community College who was recognized in Governor Lamont's State of the State address in January. Sara is originally from Afghanistan, where women and girls are excluded from educational opportunities under Taliban rule. We are so fortunate that people like Sara have chosen CSCU, and it is our duty and responsibility to support her, those like her, and all our students in their educational journeys.

Wishing all of you a meaningful International Women's Day.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Mar 6, 2023 - Hartford Courant Op-Ed

Dear CSCU Community:
 

I am pleased to share with you a copy of my op-ed that appeared in Sunday’s Hartford Courant which shares my perspective on the importance of supporting public higher education and our CSCU 2030 proposal. My goal was to make the case for the importance of the CSCU system of affordable and inclusive institutions and the need for greater state investment.  
 


As I said in my email earlier this spring, many people within our system have reached out asking how they can help make CSCU 2030 a reality. I appreciate the enthusiasm to support this work and make a tangible impact.   

 

If you are interested in sharing your support, call, meet, or email your legislator. At some point, every member of the General Assembly, whether they are on the committees of cognizance or not, will vote on the budget. Advocacy from constituents to ensure CSCU 2030 priorities are funded can make a real difference for legislators.
 


Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

 

Terrence Cheng: Don’t waste the chance to invest in what makes CT great: people (courant.com)


I am an immigrant who came here as a toddler. My parents didn’t speak good English, and we didn’t have money. But because of public higher education, I was able to go to college, and it changed my life. My story is not unique, but it speaks to the transformational power of postsecondary education.


Public higher education is rooted in this concept: upward mobility, opportunities for people of all backgrounds to learn, think critically, and ultimately to be productive, contributing members of society.
 

In Connecticut, the CSCU, or Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, system shoulders this responsibility. Serving more than 85,000 students who come from every one of our 169 municipalities, we are a critical girder of Connecticut’s economy, with an $11 billion annual impact on the state.
 

Our students come from Connecticut, and an estimated 93 percent of our graduates stay to live and work in Connecticut. No other institution of higher education in our state can say this. Our alumni include the current United States Secretary of Education, two sitting members of Congress, dozens of state legislators and administration officials, and more importantly, tens of thousands of professionals serving every sector of the state’s economy. Without question, we are the state’s primary engine of economic opportunity and workforce development — a system of institutions that are affordable and inclusive, not exclusive — and we are proud of that.
 

We fear that the governor’s proposed budget does not rise to the level we need to create the nimble, affordable, efficient and effective 21st century system of public higher education that Connecticut truly deserves. If CSCU is to meet the needs of the state, the communities we serve and our students at the highest level, then greater state investment is required.
 

In January, we released CSCU 2030, a vision for generational investment in our faculty and academic innovation, in our students and how we support them and in the foundational infrastructure that delivers and houses this invaluable work.
 

Two things have led us to this point. First, our operating funding has been flat since 2007 almost exclusively due to the growth in the state’s fringe benefit costs. When factoring in 44 percent inflation over that period, our operating funding has been significantly compressed. Second, our capital funding program is exhausted, at a time when critical infrastructure related to health and safety, and our academic mission, is failing. For these reasons, we must act soon.
 

But CSCU 2030 is not just about addressing concerns: it is about taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine and transform higher education for our state. CSCU 2030 will allow us to serve more students, be a better partner to the state, and an even stronger driver of economic opportunity.
 

Here is what will happen if CSCU 2030 is passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. It will expand the state’s highly successful free community college program, PACT, which currently serves more than 10,000 first-time students. CSCU 2030 will allow us to more than double that number and help improve the state’s pool of talented employees. We also will expand PACT to include state university students studying in fields such as education, nursing, allied health, computer science, engineering, and more. At the universities alone, more than 7,000 students per year will qualify for a tuition and fee-free education.
 

CSCU 2030 will also invest in student supports and wraparound services. COVID has hurt our students immeasurably, and we must do more to support their mental and emotional health. At the same time, housing insecurity, lack of childcare, transportation and food insecurity are regularly cited as impediments to college persistence. We will provide more resources to help in these critical areas, because all of this has a direct impact on academic achievement.
 

In New York, researchers found that providing these types of services leveled the playing field between lower-income students and their more affluent peers. We expect these investments to show almost immediate results, decreasing time to degree, while increasing persistence and graduation rates.
 

Finally, the CSCU 2030 capital project program includes a seven-year investment in our physical and digital infrastructure across all CSCU campuses. Studies show that learning infrastructure and environment have a direct correlation to enrollment, so it is imperative that we adapt state-of-the-art technology and transform the day-to-day world in which our faculty and staff work and our students learn.
 

One example is Capital Community College. Capital serves students from the most socioeconomically challenged communities in our state, but its campus is wedged into a former department store in a building that is breaking down. This is not right. If our campuses are not configured for optimal learning, then what are we saying to our students?
 

CSCU 2030 will ensure that key programs like nursing at Capital, already the largest such program in the CSCU system, will be able to consistently serve and stand with the best of its peers. Investing in all our campuses sends a message to our students that they are worthy and second-class to no one.
 

Without CSCU, thousands of students from backgrounds like mine would not have the chance to go to college and change their lives. Let us not waste this chance to invest in what truly makes Connecticut great: our people. Let us not suffer from a lack of imagination and a deficit mindset when talking about the future of our state; let us have the audacity to dream big and fight hard for what we believe is best and right. Let us back the message of our state leaders who believe in opportunity and access, in equity and inclusion as a strength. CSCU 2030 is a plan that will walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Our incredible faculty and staff are ready to go to the next level, but we can only do it with your support.

Mar 3, 2023 - Thanking President Joe

Dear CSCU Community:

 
It is bittersweet for me to share President Joe Bertolino's announcement that, beginning July 1, he will become president of Stockton University in his home state of New Jersey. 

 
In his seven years in New Haven, President Joe brought his passionate leadership style and trademark enthusiasm to campus every day. His commitment to social justice and equity have made SCSU, and the city of New Haven, a better, stronger community. 

 
I will also miss his humor and personality. Being a university president is a serious job, but President Joe has always been humble and transparent in his work. He has been a model of integrity and empathy, offering nervous first year students a smile and a joke on move-in day, showing off his serious accordion skills, or busting out a song in a video message to the campus community. President Joe understands that good leaders embrace their humanity, and we have all benefited from that.

 
While we will certainly miss President Joe, I also recognize this move is best for him and Bil (and their adorable new puppy, Windsor). President Joe has always wanted the best for us, so we want the best for him and his. 

 
I will reach out again in the near future with information on next steps for leadership at Southern. But today, let's celebrate President Joe and thank him for his service to the University and the state of Connecticut.

 
Sincerely,

 
Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU 
 

 

Dear Students and Colleagues,

 

In 2016, I arrived at Southern filled with excitement and hope for the future, and not a day has gone by since in which I haven’t felt enormous pride to serve as this university’s president. 

 

During the past seven years, you have welcomed me and my family, and have helped me imbed myself at Southern and in New Haven. I have a sense of belonging here that exceeded my already optimistic expectations, and I’m proud of the ways in which we’ve worked together to reaffirm Southern’s strengths as an institution, both in and of the community. Southern is my home away from home. 

 

It is for these reasons that my message today is especially difficult to deliver. But I write to inform you that at the conclusion of the spring 2023 semester, I will be stepping down from my role as Southern Connecticut State University’s 12th president. 

 

As I addressed in February, I was selected as one of three candidates to interview for the presidency at Stockton University, a public institution near my family home in New Jersey. This morning, that discussion concluded with Stockton’s Board of Trustees electing me to serve as the university’s 6th president, effective July 1. 

 

While the decision to leave Southern has been difficult to make, in particular as we continue to transition through these post-pandemic years, it is one that Bil and I believe is best for our family. We will return to the place where I grew up, and where my father and many of our shared loved ones still reside. Stockton is also my mother’s alma mater. Mom, like many of our graduates here at Southern, was a non-traditional student -- an RN who received her BSN in 1977. Though she is no longer here with us, it brings me and my family great joy to be able to honor her memory in this special way.

 

I want to stress that my decision does not reflect a change in my affinity for this university. Southern is an extraordinary institution. Seven years ago when I first visited, I was enamored by the students, the community, the beautiful campus and this amazing city of New Haven. I vividly remember meeting with students, faculty, staff, alums, and friends of the university. I was told then that Southern was a special place where relationships and community mattered. That is no less true today.

 

I will always have a deep affection for all that is Southern: its historic mission of access and affordability, its unique ability to transform lives through the power of education and the caring compassion of its community – never more clearly evidenced than during the challenges of the pandemic. 

 

I am particularly proud of the productive relationships that we have built with our neighbors in New Haven and beyond, the growing recognition of our distinctive excellence in a range of academic disciplines, and how we have extended a commitment to social justice and anti-racism throughout our institution, providing an example for our students to make positive change when they enter society.

 

This semester has been particularly eventful – a throwback to the pre-COVID years – and filled with notable achievements as a result. I will have more to share on this topic in my Spring Town Hall in April. 

 

As you know, there are also hurdles to be overcome and I understand that for some, the news of my pending departure will bring uncertainty about what the immediate future may hold. But this remains a critical time for our university, with pressing challenges and new opportunities that demand our attention and action. Our community cannot hesitate to proceed in this important work together, and I urge all of you to contribute to the strategic planning process that will help define Southern for the next three to five years.

 

Soon, CSCU System President Cheng will announce the appointment of an Interim President for Southern. Know that I will work closely with whoever is appointed to ensure a smooth transition. I have the utmost confidence in those who will guide Southern in the coming months. We have talent and smarts in our leadership team, in the broader SCSU community, and throughout the CSCU system. 

 

I will be here through the end of the semester, and so we will save goodbyes, thank yous and recognitions for a later date. But know that Bil and I will forever be grateful for the friends we have made, the relationships we have formed, and for the many students whose lives we had the honor to touch. Southern is and will remain strong – because of each and every one of you.

 

Thank you! And… GO OWLS! 

 

Sincerely,

 

Joe Bertolino

President

Feb 15, 2023 - Appropriations Testimony

Dear CSCU Community,

This morning, our CSCU team gave our budget presentation to the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee. While this is an annual occurrence, this year’s testimony took on additional significance due to the gap between our request and the Governor’s proposed budget, which, by our estimation, under-funds our system by $169.6 million in FY2024 and by $283.4 million in FY2025.

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I especially want to thank our faculty, staff, and institutional leaders who took time out of their busy schedules to attend today’s hearing and show their support for appropriate levels of funding for public higher education. Your presence in the room made a much stronger case for our institutions than our presentation ever could have. I have included a link below should you wish to watch the testimony on-demand. 
 

More importantly, this evening, panels of our students will testify in front of the committee. They will share their compelling stories and highlight the fact that CSCU provides access to the highest quality education that is also the most affordable in the state. We pride ourselves on being a system that is inclusive, not exclusive; and it is because we have a place for everyone, we can make such a tremendous impact on the lives of the tens of thousands of students we serve. If you have a moment to tune in, student testimony begins at 5:00pm and is expected to finish at 7:30pm, when the committee will then hear from the public – including many members of our faculty and staff – on higher education matters.  
 

If you are so inclined, I encourage each of you to take a moment and provide written testimony to the committee. All you need to do is follow the link below, select "2/15/2023 5:00:00PM” under the “Hearing Date and Time” dropdown menu, and either upload or type in your testimony.  
 

 
Thank you for your advocacy for our students and our system. I am confidents that if we work together, we can ultimately find a budgetary solution that not only puts us on a more stable fiscal trajectory, but also allows us to innovate and provide the services that our students need and deserve. 

 

Sincerely, 
 

Terrence Cheng 
President, CSCU  

Feb 8, 2023 - Gov. Lamont's Proposed Budget

Dear CSCU Community,

This afternoon, Governor Lamont issued his proposed FY2024-2025 biennial budget. Our finance team is carefully reviewing the proposed budget, and we are appreciative of Governor Lamont’s thoughtful engagement and continued intention to provide stability to CSCU. 
 


Still, in our estimation, the Governor’s proposed budget does not rise to the level we need to create the nimble, efficient, fluid and effective 21st century system of public higher education that Connecticut truly deserves. Specifically, when compared with our CSCU 2030 plan, the Governor’s proposal under-funds our system by $169.6 million in FY2024 and by $283.4 million in FY2025. This proposed budget, if implemented, would not only hinder us from supporting our students and communities; it would potentially create long-term harm to our system and our institutions. 


Instead, we propose investing in the vision and goals outlined in CSCU 2030, which includes enhanced investment in our faculty and academic innovation; increased student supports and wrap-around services; upgrades and renovations to our physical and digital infrastructure; and the expansion of PACT. The hard work, commitment, and dedication of our faculty and staff, and the futures and well-being of our students and communities deserve such an investment.  
 

I assure you that we will be very active in our advocacy for CSCU 2030 throughout the legislative session. While we have been engaged in conversation with legislators on this item, the formal process begins next Wednesday, February 15, with our hearing at the Appropriations Committee. Our team will give a presentation on the state budget and our request, followed by panels of students, who will explain in their own words the transformational power of public higher education. Our students are the soul of our institutions, the reason we do the hard and noble work that we do, and their stories are infinitely more effective than an agency budget presentation ever could be. In coming weeks, we will also testify at hearings with the Appropriations subcommittee on higher education and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. All of this is in addition to more targeted conversations we are having with key lawmakers and leaders.  

 

Many people within our system have reached out asking how they can help make CSCU 2030 a reality. I appreciate the enthusiasm to support this work and make a tangible impact. Our passionate and dedicated faculty and staff are face-to-face with our students every day. They know what we need and why, and because of that, they are often our strongest advocates. Here are my suggestions for making your voice heard during the legislative process. 
 

  • Attend an event. In coming weeks, we will provide additional opportunities to advocate for our system, institutions, and students. I will be sure to share information as it becomes available.
     

Make no mistake: CSCU is Connecticut. Our students come from Connecticut, are educated in Connecticut, and stay in Connecticut. No other institution of higher education can say this the way we can. An investment in CSCU is an investment in equity, access, high-quality, and opportunity. But our system—each institution, and each campus—is at a cross-roads. If we don’t advocate together, now, we may not get another chance. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform public higher education for our state. This is our chance to prove that we are second-class to no one—because every year we change tens of thousands of lives and make every region of Connecticut better. This is our chance to prove that higher education is a public good that gives back exponentially in every layer and corner of society, not for years or decades, but for generations to come. We are the primary engine of social mobility and workforce development in Connecticut, and we should be supported as such.
 

By working together and braiding our collective voices and cumulative will, we can make a powerful case for this historic investment in CSCU, one that all of our students, employees, and communities deserve.  
 

Thank you for doing what you do for our students and our system each and every day. Please feel free to reach out to me directly with ideas or if you would like to get involved.


Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Feb 1, 2023 - Black History Month

Dear CSCU Community:

February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions and achievements of Black and African American people and communities. This year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” is an acknowledgement of hard-fought civil rights gains, of the history of Black Americans standing up to disrupt established power structures and demand basic human rights in housing, education, health care and in every facet of society. It is a reminder of the progress we have made, but it is also an acknowledgement that the fight for justice is far from over – and that all of us have a role to play in pursuit of a better, more equitable world.

As our system becomes more diverse every day, our role as the state’s primary driver of social mobility becomes ever-more important. Knowledge of Black and African American history is critical to our efforts in that space, and I encourage everyone to take some time this month to read and reflect.
 


To celebrate the work of our colleagues, I’m also happy to share with you the most recent edition of 1619: Journal of African American Studies, published by the African American Studies department at Central Connecticut State University. Included in the publication is a fascinating article by Dr. Gloria Brown about the late Dr. Jane Cooke Wright, a groundbreaking cancer researcher whose work in refining the use of chemotherapy has saved countless lives. Bolstering the legacies of people who have done great things to advance our society but are not properly recognized for their work is an important component of this month, and I thank Dr. Brown for sharing the story of an incredible person.
 


It is not hyperbole to say that Black history is under attack in some parts of our country, with states and governors attempting to rewrite, and even erase, entire chapters of our past. I am proud to be in a state where diversity is considered a strength, where representation and inclusion are valued. We are not perfect, nor may we ever be. But we do the work and we try and get better. That work leads to progress, which leads to change.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Jan 30, 2023 - Responding to Recent Tragedies

Dear CSCU Community,

Several events during the past week have been horrifying and traumatizing. Every day, it seems, we have woken up to breaking news, with videos, of the painful and implausible. I won’t run through the litany of attacks—but like many of you, they have disturbed me and made me angry, and sorrowful. I have worried that we are becoming anesthetized to such wretched and callous violence, and the brazen disregard for humanity. It is hard to process and reconcile all of this, when we know there are so many in the world trying to do good.

I will say this about the murder of Tyre Nichols: he should be alive today. I am crushed for his family and loved ones. I am sorry that more than two and a half years since the murder of George Floyd, it feels in these moments as if nothing has changed. Though I have read the reporting and accounts, I have not watched the video (or the other videos that have been made public recently). I have made this decision to protect my own mental and emotional health. 

During hard times like these, I implore all of us to do what we need to take care of ourselves. Across CSCU, services are available through employee assistance programs on our campuses and at the system office. I encourage anyone who needs support to take advantage of these services by reaching out to your human resources office.

I believe it is natural to feel helpless; and seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. We have to be strong to do what we can to help ourselves and others, and move forward. We may start with recommitting to our social justice-driven work, or engaging in advocacy or research to reduce gun violence. We can come together as a community and support our colleagues who are hurting, so let us offer empathy and friendship. Through unity and compassion, we will continue to face down such trials, and grow stronger and heal together.

Thank you for listening, for taking care of yourselves, and for being there for one another.

Sincerely,
Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Jan 24, 2023 - Announcing CSCU 2030

Dear CSCU Community, 

Today, I will present to the legislature and release to the public CSCU 2030, a vision for a generational state investment in our public institutions of higher education. CSCU is an incredible asset to the state. We serve 85,000 students and have an $11 billion annual impact on the state’s economy. We are the primary engine for social mobility and workforce development in the state, and we provide world class education to students from all backgrounds.  

The state has been generous with its funding, yet because of skyrocketing fringe benefit costs coupled with significant inflation, our operating funds have been compressed for the past 15 years.  

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[Pres. Cheng: Introducing CSCU 2030 (YouTube)]   

To meet these challenges and do the work of the state and its citizens at the highest and most effective level, CSCU 2030 contains two specific proposals.  

First, it seeks to drive enrollment and meet state workforce goals through investments in affordability, student supports and wrap-around services, and innovative and expanded academic programs. CSCU is proposing state support increases of $54.3 and $127.8 million over FY2023 levels in the new biennium, with support sustained through FY2030.   

  • PACT Expansion: Providing free college to all community college students and more than 7,000 university students per year, to matriculate in high-demand, state-priority programs and fields.  
  • Student Supports and Wrap-Around Services: Addressing the most prevalent barriers to student success with academic and professional support, and mental health, transportation, food, and housing services. 
  • Workforce and Academic Innovation: Prepare students to help fill Connecticut’s 100,000 job vacancies by expanding existing programs and developing new credentials to match industry demands in key areas as outlined by the Governor’s Workforce Council report.  

 

Second, it seeks to provide CSCU’s students with modern facilities and updated technology, laboratories and classrooms. The CSCU 2030 capital project program proposes $2.21 billion in investments over seven years to make all CSCU campuses safer, more accessible, and more sustainable. 

  • Expanded Transportation Jobs Center at Gateway.  
  • Updated facility for Capital.  
  • Upgrades to buildings at Middlesex and Naugatuck Valley. 
  • Improvements to academic and student support buildings at all state universities, including Welte Hall at Central, the health and wellness center at Eastern, Morill Hall at Southern, and the Berkshire Hall Innovation Center at Western. 
  • Technology upgrades to increase productivity, innovation and security.  

 

This is a big, bold, and ambitious vision for the future of our system, one that will allow CSCU to innovate as we evolve, transform how we support our diverse and aspiring students and our talented faculty, staff and leadership. It rebuilds, updates, and refreshes our important but aging infrastructure. I am encouraged by the positive feedback we have received in preliminary conversations with our legislative and administration partners.  

In coming months, I look forward to working with our institutional leaders, our collective bargaining units, and all of you to make CSCU 2030 a reality. 

The detailed version of the CSCU 2030 proposal is available in its entirety at ct.edu/cscu2030. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the document and reach out to me directly if you would like to get involved in our advocacy efforts. 

Our students and employees are worthy of this investment.  

Sincerely, 

Terrence Cheng 
President, CSCU  

Jan 13, 2023 - Celebrating Dr. King’s Legacy

Dear CSCU Community,

This Monday, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We are reminded of the dreams, actions, and contributions of one remarkable man and the movement he inspired to fight for social justice and civil rights.

Along with Dr. King, we recognize and honor the bravery of the people who marched alongside him and those who took to the street in pursuit of his vision, folks whose names we do not know, who faced tear gas, attack dogs, fire hoses, and other vicious weapons fueled by hate and racism. Their stoicism in the face of unspeakable violence spurred a reluctant Congress to do the right thing and pass landmark reforms. Because of them, we have seen real progress.

Of course, many of Dr. King’s dreams remain unfulfilled. Unacceptable inequities continue to exist. While they present themselves differently, the forces behind the outright violence of the 1960s continue to exist and manifest in so many ways. And so, we continue to fight for progress and change today, and beyond.

All of us have a role to play in making our state and country better. The relentless pursuit of equity is core to who we are as a system and is central to the Board of Regents’ recently-passed strategic vision. As institutions that serve a diverse and diversifying student body, we can make a real difference in creating real opportunities – and we take that responsibility very seriously. We are just a small part of the solution, but we can make an outsized difference.

In coming weeks, I will share information on new plans that will help our system do more to close the equity gap, and we will offer more opportunities to learn about how our own actions can create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment, starting with mandatory trainings to help managers use their positions of power to create positive change throughout our organization.

This MLK weekend, I hope you are able to relax and recharge. If volunteering is your thing, there are plenty of great opportunities this weekend at nonprofits throughout the state. In any case, I look forward to seeing you as we work toward the beginning of the spring semester.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

2022 Communications

Dec 19, 2022 - Happy Holidays

Dear CSCU Community,

As the semester winds to a close, I want to take a moment to pass along my immense gratitude for your good work throughout the year.                                                               


This was the first semester in a long time that resembled normalcy. Thanks in large part to your tireless efforts, enrollment has finally begun to stabilize at most of our institutions, and the intangible but very noticeable “buzz” on our campuses is beginning to feel like it did before the pandemic.

Of course, we will have a great deal of work to do in the new year – this new year especially. Our team will be fighting harder than ever for bold, new state investments, making the case that CSCU and its institutions are the primary engine of social mobility and economic impact for the state. Our students come from Connecticut, are educated in Connecticut, and they stay in Connecticut. We are second-class to no one, and we must prove that. If we are unified in this message—faculty, staff, students, and administrators—we will build capacity and support, and achieve great things. That’s what our students, our system, and our state deserve.

In the meantime, I hope you have a joyful and relaxing holiday season – whatever holidays you celebrate.

I look forward to seeing you in January.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Dec 14, 2022 - Ten Years

Dear CSCU Community,

On this date 10 years ago, 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Everyone who works in our system was impacted in some way by that horrific act—some were affected personally. A decade later, the pain and sense of shock remain, so today we remember the victims, and think of the families and communities struck by this tragedy.

Much has changed in ten years—in our country, and in the world. It is worth noting that since the Sandy Hook tragedy, more than 500 gun safety and gun violence prevention laws have been passed at the state level, and Connecticut has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation. But of course, recent tragedies in Colorado, Virginia, Texas and elsewhere, remind us there is so much more work to do. The loss of two law enforcement officers in Bristol back in October drive this point home even more.  

At CSCU, public safety and security is a top priority, but we can always do better. Anyone who puts a child on a bus, or sees a spouse or loved one out the door, or walks into an office or a store or a place of worship, should not feel that millisecond pang of dread or fear. In the classroom, and as community advocates across the state, we will continue to work with our faculty and staff, and our students, legislators and local leaders to effect positive change. The work of several Sandy Hook families and organizations must be lauded and supported. From despair and unspeakable tragedy, they have created knowledge and grace and light. They have changed how we see the world, and I am inspired by them.

On this sad day, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on what we have and what we value, as individuals, professionals, and as families; and commit to doing our best to keep communities safe across Connecticut and CSCU.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU
 

Nov 11, 2022 - Gratitude for our Veterans

Dear CSCU Community,

Every person who serves our nation in uniform has made a significant personal sacrifice in defense of the common ideals we all hold dear. We are privileged to live in a state and a nation in which freedom, democracy, and the rule of law are deeply rooted. Yet that did not happen by accident, and it persists in large part because of the willingness of our veterans to serve, and potentially put their lives on the line.

Today, Veterans Day, is an opportunity to say thank you.

The Board of Regents, the CSCU system, and our individual institutions have a long history of serving our veterans and their families, and we are proud to count many veterans among our students and colleagues. On behalf of the BOR and our institutional leaders, I reaffirm that commitment to fostering a welcoming environment to those who have served in our military. It is one of our most important jobs as public institutions of higher education, and one we take with the utmost seriousness.

To the veterans who work and study in the CSCU system: thank you for your service. Your experiences and perspectives make our system a better place, and we owe you our profound gratitude.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Sep 13, 2022 - Welcome Back Address Sept 15

Dear CSCU Community,

 

This Thursday, September 15 at 10am, I will deliver my annual welcome address to the CSCU community live from the Center for New Media at Middlesex.

At that time, please join us at the below link to watch along.

 

 

Thanks very much, and I hope to see you Thursday.

 

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Sep 8, 2022 - Final DACA Rule

Dear CSCU Community:

Last week the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule on the DACA program in the Federal Registry. This new rule essentially codifies the existing DACA program into regulation with some minor changes, while the eligibility criteria and application process remain the same as the current program. However, the rule does not lift the suspension on initial applications from a July 2021 appeals court decision.

 

While this is a positive step in the right direction, we need a long-term legislative solution for DACA recipients, other Dreamers, their families, the higher education institutions who serve them and the employers who rely on them. In the ten years this program has been in place, more than 800,000 individuals have relied on DACA for work permits, deportation protections, and to pursue their higher education goals.

 

My family brought me here from Taiwan as a child to provide every opportunity to me. I understand firsthand the hopes and dreams that brought these families here. No one should be denied an opportunity to pursue their personal, education and professional goals because they were brought here as children. These are our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones, and the students we serve. They’re just as American as you or I, and they deserve every opportunity that we had.

 

I hope you all will join me in urging our members of Congress to find a permanent solution for our DACA students and other Dreamers that allows them to live their lives with some certainty and hope for the future.

 

For additional information, please see this fact sheet from the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng

President, CSCU

Aug 29, 2022 - First Day of Classes

Dear CSCU Community:

With our first classes of the fall semester officially underway, I want to take a moment to wish all of our faculty, staff and administrators the very best. In my experience, the first day of classes has always been an exciting day, representing the possibility and opportunity of the academic year ahead – generally coupled with a fair bit of nervousness. It is our chance to reset, build on what we have learned, and recommit to giving our students the best possible academic experience.

All of us – whether our role is directly student-facing or not – play an important role in helping our students succeed. So as we kick off the semester in earnest, I thank you for everything you do and send you positive wishes for the weeks and months ahead.

I expect to deliver my annual livestreamed address to the CSCU community on Thursday, September 15 at 10am, and my team will share additional details, including a link, in coming days.

I look forward to seeing all of you on campus this semester.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Jul 1, 2022 - Wishing you a happy Independence Day

Dear CSCU Community:

As we embark on the holiday weekend, I want to take a moment to wish you a happy Independence Day. I know that the Fourth of July has a differing and complicated set of meanings for many members of our community, myself included. It is a day to celebrate freedom and democracy in a nation that has, at times, failed to live up to those ideals. It feels particularly precarious today, when those fundamental guarantees seem more fragile than any time in recent memory.

Still, it is my personal belief that we live in one of the greatest nations in the world. You have heard me say before, that as an immigrant, I have known the U.S. as “mei guo” (“beautiful country” in Mandarin) before I ever called it America. It is a place that has given me and my family life and opportunity that could not be dreamed of elsewhere. I will always value and cherish this; and because of this I will always work with you and for you to help achieve those individual and collective dreams.

Your hard work and dedication is further evidence and inspiration that what we work toward is indeed the greater good. Thank you for all you do on behalf of our students, communities, and state. It is never easy, but it is always something we should be proud of. You have earned this opportunity to celebrate. So as you observe the holiday this weekend, hopefully in the company of family and friends, please be safe and have a good time.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU
 

Jun 17, 2022 - Celebrating Juneteenth

Dear CSCU Community:

 

This Sunday marks Juneteenth, a day to recognize the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. It is a day to recognize the formal end to the United States’ grave historical injustice and celebrate Black individuals, communities, and cultures.

 

Juneteenth is also a day to reflect on the work left to do, a reminder that there is a direct link between the legacy of slavery and societal inequities that exist today. Here at CSCU, working to reduce those inequities and provide access and opportunities to students who have been traditionally left behind, is core to who we are. As our recent commencements remind us, many of our students are successful in their pursuits. Yet, despite our best efforts, we also fail too many students when institutional barriers prevent academic success and completion. As a system, it is our job to examine those barriers and do everything in our power to remove them. We can and will do better.

 

Juneteenth is a day that deserves to be recognized, and I am thrilled that, starting in 2023, it will finally become an official state holiday in Connecticut.

 

 

I hope all of you will take a moment this weekend to reflect on the significance of the holiday, celebrate the richness and diversity of Connecticut’s Black communities, and recommit to doing the work necessary to create a more equitable society.

 

Sincerely,

 

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

 

May 27, 2022 - Commemorating Memorial Day

Dear CSCU Community,

 

For many, Memorial Day marks a long weekend of parades, barbecues, family gatherings, and the beginning of the summer travel season. All of our employees have worked hard this year, and you deserve a break, no doubt.

 

But let us also remember the meaning behind Memorial Day and honor the sacrifice of the service members who lost their lives in defense of our nation.

 

I encourage you to take a moment to read about some of the folks with ties to Connecticut who were killed in the line of duty.

 

All of the stories on the Wall of Honor website are inspiring and heartbreaking, but I was especially struck by the profile of Army Specialist Tyanna Avery-Felder of Bridgeport, who was just 22 years old when she was killed in Iraq in 2004. She was the first Connecticut woman service member to be killed in Iraq. She was also one of our students, having spent a year at Southern Connecticut State University before enlisting in the Army. Like far too many others, Spc. Avery-Felder’s young life was cut short, and this weekend we pause to honor her and all who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

 

We also pay tribute the families of the fallen. I cannot imagine the pain that Gold Star parents, children, siblings, and spouses have endured – and continue to endure on a daily basis – but I keep them in my thoughts this weekend, as well.

 

I wish you all a meaningful Memorial Day.

 

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

May 25, 2022 - Responding to tragedy in our nation and communities

To the CSCU Community,

In the aftermath of yesterday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and on the heels of the attacks in Buffalo, New York and Santa Ana, California, I want to say a few things.

First, in Connecticut, we know the pain and impact of these events all too well. Many folks are feeling the compounded effect of this trauma and I want to remind you that our campuses have resources for those who are seeking assistance and support. We are here to help and support those in need in any way we can. Please do not hesitate to reach out.

Second, I want to assure you that each of our campuses have public safety and security teams, with plans for emergency situations such as active threat. We review these plans regularly, and such horrific events only remind us of how important it is to bolster our work in this area, which we will continue to do. Of course, while our public safety response plans and staff are ready for these situations, trying to stop an individual committed to doing harm is nearly impossible. It is up to all of us to remain vigilant.

Finally, as a system of public higher education, it is our responsibility to advocate for the health, safety, and viability of the institutions, employees, and students we serve. The epidemic of gun violence in the United States threatens our communities and our campuses. I look forward to working with our state and federal elected officials to advocate for policy changes that will make our institutions better, safer places to work and learn.

Words can do no justice in the face of such tragedy. We think of our own children, families, and communities. I am with you in this, no doubt. I hope we can show each other compassion and understanding, and help healing. In that process we will grow stronger each day, hopefully, together.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

May 6, 2022 - An update on the legislative session

Dear CSCU Community,

On Wednesday night, the legislative session came to an end and I’m pleased to report that our systemwide advocacy efforts were successful in securing the funding needed to close our $274 million projected shortfall for FY23! 

I want to thank each and every one of you who took the time out of your busy lives to reach out to your legislators and make the case for a much needed investment in our students and our institutions. This success belongs to all of you, from the amazing students who testified at our Appropriations Committee panels, to all the faculty, staff, administrators, campus leaders, and regents who helped legislators see the value in investing in CSCU. I would like to especially thank the bargaining units that supported our advocacy requesting state support. This united effort sent a powerful signal to our legislators, and I am convinced it was a big reason for our successful legislative session.

This is a huge win for our students, our employees, our institutions, our system, and the communities we serve. This infusion of one-time support provides a lifeline for FY23 while we fight to rebuild enrollment, address our budget challenges, and come back next legislative session to make as much of these one-time funds recurring as possible.

Outside of the new funding, I’m pleased to report that working in collaboration with our partners in the legislature we were able to help secure the passage of new policy changes that will help our students and communities. This includes:

  • Expanding the PACT debt free college program to part time students earning between 6-12 credits. 
  • New reporting and tools to address student food insecurity.
  • A new state initiative to support faculty positions and student financial aid in high demand nursing and mental health programs at the colleges and universities. 
  • Increased funding and new policies to help expand child care options at our campuses.

These new state laws and much needed funding will go a long way toward helping our system to continue our mission to provide accessible, affordable, and excellent educational opportunities for all of Connecticut’s residents. Thank you again for all of your efforts and support in advocating on behalf of our students and our system this year. I look forward to working with all of you again next year to make these one-time funds recurring and convince legislators to make an even larger investment in CSCU!

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

May 2, 2022 - Celebrating AAPI Heritage

Dear CSCU Community:

Each May marks Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions of those of Asian descent to our CSCU community.

As you may know, I am an immigrant from Taiwan. My parents – who had previously fled mainland China when Mao Zedong came to power in 1949 – came to the United States when I was a baby, leaving good jobs behind, to give me the opportunity for a better life. In many ways, my story is typical of the immigrant experience. And I know that like my parents, many of our AAPI employees and students have sacrificed so much to be here today.

We have witnessed in recent years that anti-Asian sentiment, racism, and even violence continues to be all too prevalent. The otherization of Asian-Americans has deep roots in this country, stemming from explicitly racist policies like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the unconstitutional internment of Americans during the Second World War because of their Japanese heritage. AAPI individuals have been ascribed the problematic “model minority” label and expectations. And, tragically, hate crimes directed at Asian American communities have climbed in recent years.

Yet there is so much to celebrate. Asian Americans are an integral part of our society at large, making innumerable contributions to academia, the arts, government and politics, STEM, and culture. Here at CSCU, they are our colleagues in faculty, staff, and administrative positions, and they are our students, making each of our institutions stronger.

Of course, there is no one monolithic “AAPI community.” We are diverse in nation – or nations – of ancestry, language, race, and political affiliation. Yet AAPI individuals and communities are a big part of what makes this country great.

This month, let us celebrate the contributions of our Asian American colleagues, students, and friends, and let us commit to speaking up and speaking out against anti-AAPI sentiment.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Apr 28, 2022 - Announcing Our New Provost

Dear CSCU Community,

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Rai Kathuria has accepted the position of CSCU provost/senior vice president of academic and student affairs and will officially begin his tenure on June 3, 2022.

Dr. Kathuria will join the CSCU system with experience in system-wide collaborative efforts with faculty, staff and administrators, and a proven track record of success as an academic leader, scholar and administrator. He brings strategic, collaborative and innovative leadership during this critical time in the CSCU system, as we serve the educational needs of our students coming out of the pandemic.

He comes to us from Indiana University (IU) where he is currently assistant vice president in the office of the executive vice president for University Academic Affairs (UAA) and director of the Office of Collaborative Academic Programs (OCAP), IU Online. Dr. Kathuria has served in the Office of UAA since 2016, and has 16 years of higher education experience, serving the last 14 years as a faculty member and administrator at IU.

In these roles, he creates, implements and administers online and hybrid degrees over seven IU campuses, and has created 56 undergraduate and graduate programs targeting adult and continuing learners. As the director of OCAP, he leads a system-wide collaborative effort to build and implement collaborative degrees. Dr. Kathuria is a tenured associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Indiana University East, one of the seven campuses in the IU system.

He holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Delhi in New Delhi, an M.S. in biochemistry from Hamdard University in New Delhi, and a B.S. (honors) degree in biochemistry from the University of Delhi. He also completed the management development program at Harvard University and holds master reviewer certification from Quality Matters™ and is a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Kathuria to the CSCU system. His energy, enthusiasm, sophistication, presence, and ingenuity are going to be a vital piston in the engine of CSCU’s work in the years to come. I have no doubt his efforts will help to catapult our system to the next level.

I would also like to thank Dr. Ken Klucznik, who has served as interim provost since Dr. Jane Gates’s retirement in December. Ken has handled the role ably, and I greatly appreciate his leadership and partnership over these last few months.  I am very pleased that he is returning to his position of vice president for academic affairs and will continue to contribute to the important work of the provost’s office.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities

Apr 20, 2022 - Joint Advocacy for our System

Dear CSCU Community:

As we enter the final weeks of the 2022 legislative session, the CSCU team is working around the clock to ensure our system is fairly funded. To that end, I am happy to share with you a joint letter of advocacy signed by every institutional leader within the system and the presidents of the majority of the unions representing CSCU employees. I am proud that labor and management were able to come together to request the funding necessary to support the students and institutions we are entrusted to serve. I am optimistic that, thanks in large part to this show of unity in our advocacy efforts, we can come to a successful resolution this session.

Please take a moment to read the letter, which was sent late last week to all members of the General Assembly.

Sincerely,
Terrence Cheng

 

Joint Letter from CSCU Administrative and Union Leaders re: Midterm Budget Adjustments

To the Honorable Members of the Connecticut General Assembly,

We write today as leaders of our 17 CSCU institutions and the 6 unions representing more than 60,000 students and more than 15,000 faculty and staff with a joint request to help close our projected budget shortfall. This is the first time in the history of our system that CSCU labor and management have presented a united budget request to the Connecticut General Assembly, and our purpose is to underscore the seriousness of the financial challenge facing our system. 

First, we deeply appreciate the additional funding for CSCU included in the Appropriations Committee proposal. This builds on the significant investments proposed by the Governor and goes a long way toward reducing the projected shortfall for the system for FY 2022 and FY 2023. However, this proposal still leaves more than $33 million in projected shortfalls across the system in FY 2023. 

This shortfall reflects the decennial 27th payroll and associated fringe benefits required next year. While both the Governor and the Appropriations Committee proposed $10 million of carryforward funds to help CSCU cover this, it is projected to cost CSCU $40,785,409 in FY 2023. We are asking legislators to help us cover the remaining $30.8 million in 27th payroll and related fringe costs. 

The pandemic and its related enrollment impacts have depleted our revenue by $84 million (compared to FY 2019) and left our institutions with severely limited reserve balances to cover this shortfall until we are able to rebuild our enrollment. CSCU is committed to preserving our capacity to serve students with a wide range of programs at our colleges and universities across the state. Providing the funding to continue these programs is critical to our ability to support our students and deliver pathways to economic and social mobility to countless Connecticut residents, particularly for our students hardest hit by the pandemic. 

We are doing everything we can to address our financial shortfalls on our own, in addition to our request for more support from the legislature. The Board of Regents approved increasing tuition at the community colleges and the state universities by 5% next year, but we also believe that raising it any further to close this gap is not fair to our students and their families, will not serve our mission of excellence, affordability, and accessibility, and risks a further downward push on our enrollment. 

It took nearly a year and half for us to come together and reach collective bargaining agreements which do right by our students that we all serve, our employees, and our institutions. Our negotiations were contentious, difficult, and labor and management disagreed strongly on various issues. And yet, we reached fair and equitable agreements, because we agree wholeheartedly on this: our institutions are critical to the lives of our students today and those that will come tomorrow. Connecticut cannot stand by and allow these vital institutions to falter or fail while the state has the funding to support them. We urge you to support our labor agreements, and the necessary funding that is needed for our colleges and universities to thrive. 

We look forward to working with all of you and Governor Lamont to help close this funding gap to make sure we can continue to provide excellent, accessible, and affordable higher education to all of Connecticut’s residents across the colleges and universities of the CSCU system.

Sincerely,

President Joe Bertolino, Ph.D.
Southern Connecticut State University

CEO William (Terry) Brown, Ph.D.
Gateway Community College

President Terrence Cheng
Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
              
President John Clark, Ph.D.
Western Connecticut State University

CEO Michelle Coach, Ed.D.
Asnuntuck Community College 

Regional President Tom Coley, Ph.D.
Shoreline West Region Community Colleges

President Gregg Crerar
State University Organization of Administrative Faculty (SUOAF)
Local 2836 of Council 4, AFSCME
              
CEO Cheryl DeVonish, JD
Norwalk Community College

CEO Lisa Dresdner, Ph.D.
Naugatuck Valley Community College    

CEO Duncan Harris, Ed.D.
Capital Community College

Interim CEO Kimberly Hogan
Middlesex Community College  

CEO Karen Hyneck, Ed.D.
Quinebaug Valley Community College

CEO Mary Ellen Jukoski, Ed.D.
Three Rivers Community College
              
President Ed Klonoski
Charter Oak State College

Regional President Jim Lombella, Ed.D.
North-West Region Community Colleges              

President Paul Morganti
Charter Oak State College Professional Bargaining Unit
AFSCME Local 1214, Council, AFL-CIO

President Elsa Núñez, Ed.D.
Eastern Connecticut State University      

President Patricia O’Neil, Ph.D.
Connecticut State University - American Association of University Professors (CSU-AAUP)

CEO Darryl Reome, Ed.D.
Tunxis Community College          

President Mike Rooke, Ph.D.
Northwestern Connecticut Community College
Interim President, CT State

President Larry Salay
AFSCME, Local 2480 (Community Colleges)
              
CEO Dwayne Smith, Ph.D.
Housatonic Community College

Regional President Rob Steinmetz, Ed.D.
Capital-East Region Community Colleges              

President Zulma Toro, Ph.D.
Central Connecticut State University

Mar 31, 2022 - Trans Day of Visibility

Dear CSCU Community:

March 31 marks Transgender Day of Visibility, and I would like to take the opportunity to reaffirm to our trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming community members that you are seen and valued. You are esteemed colleagues and friends who make our institutions stronger because of your lived experiences.

In recent months we have seen a noticeable uptick from politicians around the country – and, yes, even here in Connecticut – proposing anti-trans legislation and engaging in hateful and transphobic discourse. The Board of Regents for Higher Education and the CSCU system have long been at the forefront of inclusivity. We understand that respecting each other’s humanity and expanding accommodations to allow every person to live their truth improves our community and the educational services we offer.

As long as I am president of this system, I will continue to advocate for our trans community members and push for policies and procedures to make our institutions even more welcoming.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU
 

Mar 23, 2022 - Middlesex Leadership Announcement

Dear CSCU community,

Today I share the bittersweet news that Dr. Steve Minkler will be moving on from his role as CEO of Middlesex Community College. His final day at MxCC is April 7. Fortunately, he’s not going far, as he has accepted the position of Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs at Central Connecticut State University.

During Steve’s decade at Middlesex, he oversaw the creation of an Honors Program, credit-bearing programs in Computer Information Technology, Health Information Management, New Media Production, Veterinary Technology, and post-primary certifications in diagnostic imaging, and an expanded set of offerings for short-term workforce training. He helped secure over $13 million in federal, state, and private grants to enhance academic programs and student support services, to create a GEAR UP partnership serving over 650 high school students in the city of Meriden, and to build the state-of-the-art Center for New Media.

Dr. Minkler expanded partnerships with CCSU to bring university classes and a recruiting office to Middlesex’s campus. He worked closely with nearby Wesleyan University to build the Center for Prison Education partnership, jointly offer filmmaking classes, and allow Middlesex Honors students to take two classes at Wesleyan free of charge. And, he has nurtured close relationships with Middlesex Health and Pieper Veterinary, which serve as the clinical teaching locations for the Radiologic Technology and Veterinary Technology programs.

Steve also co-created the monthly "Courageous Conversations" series and developed the college's Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Both have fueled work on campus to create an inclusive, compassionate environment, address equity gaps, and strengthen a sense of community for all faculty, staff, and students.

I thank Steve for his great work at Middlesex and congratulate him on the new role at CCSU.

I am also very pleased to announce that Kim Hogan, MxCC’s current Dean of Administration, has agreed to assume the role of interim CEO. I am fully confident that Kim has the skills and experience to be a highly successful leader for the Middlesex campus.
 
Dean Hogan will provide leadership through June 2023, while we conduct a full national search for a permanent CEO. We look forward to engaging the campus community in the search as we’ve done in the past. 
 
Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Rob Steinmetz
Regional President, Capital-East

Mar 1, 2022 - March is Women’s History Month

Dear CSCU Community:

Today marks the start of the 2022 Women’s History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in our historical endeavors to build a more equitable society. Through hard work, organization, and occasionally civil disobedience, women have overcome significant obstacles. Winning the right to vote in 1920 is an obvious example. But other victories are less well known today: women won the right to serve on federal juries in 1957, to access credit in their own name in 1974, to guarantee they wouldn’t be fired for getting pregnant until 1978, and to serve in military combat in 2013.

There has been real and demonstrable progress in recent years but change is slow for white woman and even slower for women from minority communities.
 
Of course, Women’s History Month should not be restricted to cisgender women. Despite some gains, trans women are amongst the most discriminated people in our society. A significant number of states continue to have no protections – discrimination remains ostensibly legal – for trans individuals. And trans kids continue to be subject to widespread harassment at school, in their communities, in the media and in political rhetoric.

Connecticut, thankfully, is better than that. Connecticut has some of the strongest laws protecting women’s rights and we were one of the first states to adopt significant protections based on gender identity. And CSCU, at the direction of the Board of Regents, has actively worked, through policy and in practice, to foster a welcoming and affirming environment.

We must recognize that much work remains, from equal pay, to representation in corporate boardrooms and government. All of us in public higher education have a role in building that better, more equitable future. Our institutions and the education they provide can and should be a ladder to economic and social mobility. Let us look at women’s history, at the ongoing struggle for equal rights, as an inspiration for that work.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

Feb 25, 2022 - Thinking of our Ukrainian-American students and colleagues

Dear CSCU Community,

As we head into the weekend, we have all seen the horrific images from the invasion of Ukraine. It is important to remember that, as a state with tens of thousands of Ukrainian-Americans residents, many within the CSCU system continue to have family members in the region.   As this siege persists, let us keep our colleagues, students, and community members with ties to Ukraine and its neighbors in our thoughts.  

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU
 

Feb 1, 2022 - Celebrating Black History

Dear CSCU Community,

Each February, we celebrate Black History Month in the United States and reflect on the rich economic, scientific, civic, cultural, and educational contributions of Black Americans to our society at large.

Appropriately, this year’s Black History Month theme is health and wellness. This highlights the difficult reality that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated health disparities between white communities and communities of color – disparities that have, tragically, existed for generations. Of course, it also highlights the work Black Americans have done to build and strengthen the medical and public health fields, often finding innovative solutions in the face of discrimination. The creation of the Howard University College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College, for instance, was necessary because aspiring physicians who were Black were barred studying medicine at traditionally white institutions. Of course, it is not difficult to draw a direct line from this segregation in early medicine to disproportionate health outcomes, even generations later.

I also use Black History Month as the opportunity to ask myself and our institutions what we are doing to break cycles of discrimination that continue to exist today. How can we, as diverse institutions, better serve all of our students, and in particular our students of color? How can we do more to ensure our employee population more closely resemble the diverse communities and state we serve? I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but my commitment – and that of each of our extraordinary campus, system and BOR leaders – to diversity, equity and inclusion is steadfast. I am confident that by working together, defining shared goals for a stronger and more diverse community, and creating plans of action, we can better serve our students and do our small part in the effort to bring equity to our state.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU

P.S. I am sharing some additional resources below.

Jan 27, 2022 - Strategic Changes at CSCU system office

Dear CSCU Community,

I am writing today to give you an update on a change in the system office organizational structure.

Broadly speaking, the new structure will consist of two new teams. The first, under the leadership of CFO Ben Barnes, will bring together all finance and administrative functions in order to organize their services, practices, policies and expertise, and to provide better services to the campuses and system office. This will expand his direct reports to include IT and HR Vice Presidents in addition to the Finance and Facilities leaders who currently serve on his team. At the same time, Andy Kripp has made the decision to step back from his role as vice president for human resources and into an advisory position. I greatly appreciate Andy’s continued service in this capacity and thank the new administrative team in advance for their hard work ahead to improve services at CSCU.

In addition, Chief of Staff Dr. Alice Pritchard who manages the President’s office as well as the Board Affairs office will reposition her team to prioritize efforts on strategic planning and partnerships, external relations, resource development, and workforce initiatives. Her team which includes communications, government relations, board affairs, and legal affairs functions will be focused on ensuring CSCU is positioned to take advantage of partnerships with state agencies, business and municipal leaders, community organizations and others to bring resources to our institutions and most importantly our students.

It is important to note that, except for a few managers, reporting lines will not change for most employees. However, I believe that the changes will foster additional interdepartmental collaboration, greater strategic capacity, and improved external relations and ultimately yield better results for the institutions and students we serve.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU
 

Jan 17, 2022 - Strength Through Peace

Dear CSCU Community,

Before the hustle and bustle that comes with the beginning of the semester, we take a moment to reflect on the life of Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. and his enduring legacy. Of course, Dr. King’s teachings, strength through nonviolence, the importance of universal and equitable education, and an emphasis on community service, continue to influence the fight for social justice. As one of our most iconic leaders of the 20th century, and the most prolific orator of a generation, the power of his deeds and words continue to inspire us.

More than 50 years after his assassination there has been progress, but many of Dr. King’s dreams remain unfulfilled. And in recent years, we have backslid on a number of important issues – from states working to make it more difficult for people to vote, to concerted attacks on k-12 curricula that teach the history of racial oppression in the United States. Democracy and freedom are fragile concepts if we do not work to codify them as reality for all.

Let us understand that the roles we play in higher education—faculty, staff, and students—are more important than ever. Our public colleges and universities, long paragons for creative thought and robust debate, must continue to fulfill our critical responsibility as the most accessible high-quality educational opportunity for all residents, regardless of their socioeconomic background. By doing our part with boldness, integrity, and consistency, we will live up to Dr. King’s teachings and move society in a more equitable direction.

I hope you have a relaxing and meaningful day before we hit the ground running this week. Thanks again to all of you for what you do. Your ethos and work weave the tapestry that is CSCU. As single threads we are weak, but together we are strong.

Sincerely,

Terrence Cheng
President, CSCU