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State advised on college merger plan

Connecticut Post

HARTFORD — Accrediting officials overseeing one of the largest changes in New England higher education told state officials Thursday they need to see evidence a plan to merge 12 community colleges into one will leave some 53,000 students in the system better off.

“The commission is going to need more than ‘Trust us,’” said Patricia O’Brien, a senior vice president of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

O’Brien, along with Barbara Brittingham, president of the commission, appeared Thursday before the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents to answer questions and discuss the process for winning NEASC approval for the merger.

Brittingham called the plan — to keep all existing campuses but under a single accreditation — a very big deal.

“The biggest change I have seen in 18 years,” Brittingham said.

Under the plan, the number of community college administrators would be reduced and programs offered by the colleges — including Norwalk, Housatonic in Bridgeport and Gateway in New Haven — would be aligned.

One of the main concerns will be what happens to students stuck in the middle of what is expected to be a two- or more year process, Brittingham said.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” she said. “We want (students) served at least as well if not better.”

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.


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