- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Professors and students at Connecticut’s four state universities said they’re worried proposed contract changes will lead to more part-time faculty, the elimination of academic programs, and larger class sizes.

Wearing red T-shirts and holding signs that read “Fair Contract Now,” about 100 people rallied Thursday outside a meeting of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education.

“We are here fighting for our students because this contract, if it goes through, will have a detrimental effect on the long-term health of these Connecticut state universities,” said Kathleen Scoczen, a professor at Southern Connecticut State University.

Scoczen said she’s concerned the new contract will allow professors to be transferred from campus to campus and undermine the guarantee of tenure, discouraging qualified professors from applying to the system.

But Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State College and University System, said there is “considerable misinformation” about the state’s goals in the labor talks.

He said the Board of Regents for Higher Education is not looking to “strip or otherwise eliminate tenure rights.” Also, he said the board does not want to destroy, privatize or corporatize public higher education, replace tenure-track faculty with adjuncts or move instruction to an online platform.

Ojakian said labor talks with the professors’ union have been civil and professional, and “the parties are making meaningful progress on a number of issues.”

Stephen Cohen, president of the Faculty Senate at Central Connecticut State University, says he hasn’t seen such major changes proposed by an administration during his 13 years at the school. He warned they would “radically change our working conditions” and harm morale.

The labor contract expires June 30.

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