Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-971

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROMOTION OF TRANSFER AND ARTICULATION AGREEMENTS.

Vote Date:

3/16/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/9/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To implement a general education core of courses and promote higher education transfer and articulation agreements.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Keith M. Norton, Office of Higher Education, Acting Executive Director: submitted testimony in which he said he and the Office of Higher Education are pleased to support SB-971. Mr. Norton explained that the ConneCT 4 program has the potential to provide valuable tools to promote Connecticut's transfer and articulations agreements. He also noted that this bill would enable our students to plan their path through Connecticut's higher education system better.

Sally Reis, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Wayne Locust, Vice President for Enrollment Planning & Management, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in opposition to SB-971. They stated that UConn is committed to providing Connecticut's transfer students with access to higher education. To that end, UConn has created the Guaranteed Admissions Program (GAP), which assures Connecticut's community college students' admission if they maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better. Ms. Reis and Mr. Locust also pointed out that 80% of transferable credits are accepted as General Education or Major requirements and that the University takes 100% of GAP credits. They also expressed grave concern that this bill could threaten the University's accreditation from New England Association of Schools and Colleges' (NEASC). NEASC requires that “The institution develops, approves, administers, and on a regular cycle reviews its academic programs under institutional policies that are implemented by designated bodies with established channels of communication and control.”

Sean Bradbury, Director of Government Relations, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities: submitted testimony concerned about the effects that SB-971 could have on existing transfer and articulation agreements in the state if the initial intent of this bill is not changed. Mr. Bradbury explained that building a core of 30 standard general educations credits would threaten the ability of Connecticut students to graduate in the traditional 2-4 year time frame. He explained that many majors have different requirements for general education courses, which, he says, is the rationale behind the current Transfer and Articulation Pathways (TAP) program. The TAP program took differences between programs into account and created program to program articulation agreements that allow students to work efficiently towards their desired major. Mr. Bradbury also gave an update on the progress of the TAP program explaining that by the Fall of 2017 22 degree pathways will be operational and that those pathways will represent 70% of transfers within the CSUS system.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

State Representative Christie M. Carpino, Thirty-second Assembly District: submitted testimony saying that she introduced this concept because the legislature has a reasonability to help students who are struggling with crippling debt. She explained that the inability of credits to transfer between schools amounts to a double charge on credits that students have already worked hard to earn. She finds it inherently unfair that a student should be forced to retake and repay for classes within the same state university system.

John Mullane: submitted testimony in support of SB-971. Mr. Mullan says the largest barrier for community college students is the loss of credits. Mr. Mullane explained that on average community college transfer students lost 15 credits when transferring to UConn, which represents an entire semester of work and as much as a $7,866 additional cost of graduation. Mr. Mullane also noted that it costs the State millions to support these students when they are forced to retake classes and credits.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Jennifer Widness, President, The Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges: submitted testimony that says the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC) would not support any bill that seeks to regulate the core curriculum of its member intuitions. She says that the diversity of programs offered by independent colleges should be celebrated; not replaced with state regulation. That being said, many of the CCIC's members have entered into transfer and articulation agreements with the community college system.

Ms. Widness did explain that CCIC is supportive of section two of the bill that would help promote the various transfer and articulation agreements that are in place at public and independent colleges. In particular, she says a state portal would be helpful.

Michael Bailey, Executive Director, UCONN AAUP: submitted testimony in opposition to SB-971. Mr. Bailey explained that a 30+ credit core-curriculum transfer program “removes the professional expertise, individual qualifications and uniqueness that each faculty member brings to each and every course or lab,” and that “It prevents the right and the responsibility to decide the standards, courses and means of instruction without pressures from outside entities. It eliminates the concept of professional judgment, a pillar of institutions of higher education.”

Oskar Harmon, Treasurer, The American Association of University Professors, Inc: submitted testimony in opposition to SB-971. He explained that while SB-971 is attempting to fix a real problem, programs like TAP offer a less restrictive solution that still allows staff to ensure the integrity of their programs. Mr. Harmon explained that he had recently attended a meeting with faculty and counselors at Norwalk Community College to review and update an articulation agreement. This session went smoothly, according to Mr. Harmon, and as a result, economics and business students will have a smoother transition to their third year at UConn.

Thomas J Peters, Ph.D., Professor, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in opposition to SB-971. Professor Peters explained that Connecticut's institutions of higher education have different missions and for that reason have distinct accreditations. Forcing Connecticut colleges and universities to share a common transferable course load threatens those strict accreditations. He also pointed out that degree programs have a particular set of prerequisites and if those are not met a student's graduation time can be delayed. In this way, SB-971 could defeat its purpose. He finishes by calling the bill an unfunded mandate.

Michael E. Morrell: submitted testimony in opposition to SB-971. He says that the language of the bill is imprecise and would endanger the existing collaborative effort that the regional community-technical college system and the CSUS system are already engaged in.

Most importantly, he said, this bill is pedagogically unsound. He explained that each institution's faculty put a great deal of thought and effort into developing their programs. Currently, credits transfer when overlap exists. This is an excellent aspect of higher education in Connecticut and should not be replaced with a one size fits all plan.

Reported by:

Devin Keehner, Assistant Clerk

Jeanie Phillips, Clerk

Date: March 27, 2017