Connecticut Higher Education Provost Gargano Resigns

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Connecticut State College and Universities system provost Michael Gargano Jr. has resigned after only 8 months on the job.

A brief meeting was held between Gargano and the system’s president, Gregory Gray, after which Gargano handed in his resignation.  Spokesman Michael Kozlowski said that Gargano was interested in another job opening, although he did not know where.

The one thing that is known is that Gargano resigned in the midst of growing concerns over a plan, called Transform CSCU 2020, to improve the state university and college system.  Faculty are saying the plan does not place enough focus on the need for academic excellence, saying the plan “lacks an underlying vision that supports and builds on the academic mission of a state university.”

President of the Central Connecticut State University Faculty Senate Stephen Cohen said that Gargano had shared these sentiments.

“His feeling was that there was no ‘academic imperative’ at the heart of Transform CSCU 2020, that it didn’t focus on improving academic quality,” Cohen said. “He urged us to consider that and present our vision of what an ‘academic imperative’ might be that could guide Transform. He urged us to put academics at the center of Transform.”

Chairman of the faculty advisory committee to the Board of Regents for Higher Education Stephen Adair said that Gargano had suggested to faculty to write a letter outlining their concerns.  “He thought that in all of Transform, there wasn’t much that was aspirational and really aimed at the academic mission,” Adair said.

As provost, it was up to Gargano to strengthen academic programs in the state university system.

Faculty members said they were also concerned over an email from Board of Regents President Gregory Gray asking faculty to change “our pedagogical approach immediately” and instead take an approach that “takes greater advantage of and heavier reliance on creativity, innovation and technology.”

“Many education pundits now suggest the teacher is no longer the center of learning, and that students learn more from one another than from the faculty,” Gray wrote. “If accurate, this realignment means faculty must become ‘facilitators’ of learning.”

Faculty are expected to meet to discuss concerns over the growing confusion.  If enough faculty attend, a vote could take place concerning whether or not Gray has the confidence of the faculty.

Gargano took the position of provost on December 30, 2013, taking office in March.  While in office he worked to improve the academic program, governed by the state’s Board of Regents for Higher Education.  The system includes four regional universities, 12 community colleges, and the mostly online Charter Oak State College.

Before serving as provost, Gargano held the position of vice president for academics, faculty, and student affairs at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.