There was a time when Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was considered one of the most important and outspoken advocates for public higher education in Connecticut.
Heralding from the 53rd House District, Nancy Wyman served as a state representative from 1987 to 1995. In that capacity she was a powerful voice for her constituents who were faculty, staff, students and alumni of the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and Connecticut’s Community and Technical Colleges.
As the Vice Chair and then Chair of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, and a high-ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Nancy Wyman worked tirelessly to make public higher education a priority, including helping to successfully derail an outrageous plan to merge Connecticut’s Community Colleges and State Universities under a new bureaucratic and administrative structure.
Considering Nancy Wyman was one of the few public officials who truly understood, appreciated and supported the fundamental role that public higher education plays in Connecticut, there were high hopes that as Governor Dannel Malloy’s Lt. Governor, Nancy Wyman would help usher in a new era of state support for public universities and colleges.
Instead, she became a silent partner in Malloy’s unprecedented attack on Connecticut’s institutions of higher education. Malloy’s excessive and record-breaking budget cuts have systematically undermined all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities, resulting in higher tuition and reduced educational opportunities for those who could actually come up with the money to pursue a college degree.
And in what was a truly ironic and tragic moment, Nancy Wyman not only failed to stop Malloy’s inappropriate initiative to merge Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges via the creation of the Board of Regents, but it was Wyman’s phone calls and lobbying of Democratic legislators that actually allowed Malloy to eviscerate the very programs that she had previously worked so hard to support.
Yet as bad as Malloy’s higher education policies have been over the last five years, it has become apparent that the greatest threat to UConn and CSU are the Malloy administration’s recent contract proposals.
Rather than focus on issues of salary and compensation, Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents are seeking contract language and policy changes that would destroy the core aspects of Academic Freedom, shared governance and tenure.
For examples see;
While both the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapters at the University of Connecticut and Connecticut State University are speaking out against the Malloy administration’s proposals, the damage that would occur, should these concepts be adopted, would reach well beyond the impact that they would have on the faculty.
These proposals would literally undermine the national reputations that UConn and CSU have been building up over the years and limit what the schools can achieve in the years ahead.
Among Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most important contributions was his observation that,
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr
Those of us who have worked with and for Nancy Wyman over the past forty years know the difference she can make when engaged in an issue that she truly cares about and we know she was once a true friend of higher education.
With the very future of Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education hanging in the balance, the time has come for Nancy Wyman to truly and honestly step up and speak out…
Silence is simply not an option.