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March 9, 2022

Gateway and other community colleges get OK for merger plan

PHOTO | New Haven BIZ Gateway Community College in New Haven.

A plan to consolidate the state’s community colleges passed a crucial test with the approval of a regional accreditation body, the system announced Tuesday.

The New England Commission on Higher Education last week approved an application by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) to merge the 12 community colleges into a new entity, to be called Connecticut State Community College (CT State).

New Haven-area schools impacted would be Gateway Community College, with its main campus in New Haven and an automotive technology campus in North Haven; Middlesex Community in Middletown, and Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.

Under the deal, the merged schools will submit three progress reports ahead of a July 1, 2023, deadline to meet the regional body’s accreditation standards. 

Merging the campuses is necessary due to drops in student enrollment exacerbated by a pandemic-related budget crisis, according to a statement issued Tuesday by CSCU President Terrence Cheng and Michael Rooke, interim president of CT State. 

“The merger is responsive to the harsh realities that community colleges face – a steady enrollment decline, lagging student success metrics, and an unsustainable financial trajectory,” the statement read. “The plan takes material steps to address those core challenges, while maintaining the uniqueness of each of our current campuses and ensuring we have the resources to continue operations with sustainability and quality.”

Enrollment was down at all but two of the state's community colleges in fall 2019 compared to fall 2018, with an average across all 12 campuses of a 4.7% decline year over year. 

In the New Haven area in that time period, Gateway enrollment was down 3.8%, Middlesex was down 4.4% and Naugatuck Valley, down 2.8%

The pandemic’s devastating impact on tuition revenue caused the system's board of regents at the end of 2020 to nearly drain the community colleges’ emergency reserves in response to a budget crisis.

Contact Liese Klein at

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