Ax to fall on CCSU's ITBD in New Britain

Published on Thursday, 2 May 2019 20:59
Written by Michelle France


NEW BRITAIN - Central Connecticut State University officials are recommending a total overhaul of its workforce training, innovation, entrepreneurship and business development program, eliminating the Institute of Technology and Business Development effective June 30.

The Board of Regents is expected to approve its recommendation on June 20, said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Christopher Galligan. In the recommendation, activities of ITBD, housed in the Downtown Campus building at 185 Main St., will be folded into the College of Continuing Education, while a new entity is being developed that will focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.

The administration is continuing to put together a plan for this new unit, and will be asking for input from faculty, students and the community at large, Galligan said. The unit, goals of which are to increase faculty engagement and access to community resources, is expected to be in place within the next year.

The “difficult” move of shutting down ITBD has been under consideration for more than 18 months. A detailed “sustainability review” was required – as it is for every university center and institute - by the regents every seven years. Financial concerns, although not the only factor, was cited as a major reason for the shutdown, Galligan said. The program has existed for more than 30 years.

The overhaul will impact three staff positions. Executive Assistant to the President Richard Mullins - a CCSU graduate and longstanding New Britain business leader - and Business Manager James Bruner will be laid off.

The position held by Susan Davis in Business Development and Training will transition to the continuing education program.

In an email to students and staff at the university Thursday morning, CCSU President Zulma R. Toro said the school has been struggling.

“For six of the last seven years, it has relied on its reserves to cover significant operating losses,” Toro wrote. “At the end of this fiscal year, the reserves will be nearly depleted.”

ITBD is a self-supporting entity on campus, which means salaries, fringe benefits, programmatic and facility expenses are funded by the revenue it generates. In addition to that, the university has been expending significant money to pay for the building’s operations, which was run at a deficit, Galligan said.

According to Galligan, the average annual revenue for ITBD for the past six fiscal years was just under $1.28 million. The average annual expenses in the last six fiscal years were just over $1.4 million, making the annual net income for these years a negative $151,000.

“It is no longer enough to just to break even. There was going to have to be revenue coming back to the university,” he said.

Galligan blamed the 2008 recession, the economics of the state and the inability to ITBD to reinvent itself for its downfall.

“It was really a perfect storm that continued to impact the financial position,” said Galligan.

Galligan said ample discussion and opportunities to reinvent ITBD just didn’t work.

“ITBD was extremely successful for 20 years. They were really out there meeting the needs of the community, and then everything changed and we didn’t change with it,” said Galligan.

Toro said the college’s commitment to the city remains steadfast.

“Though some of the changes we are proposing are painful, our intent is to strengthen and expand our involvement in the city’s revitalization efforts and to establish New Britain as a college town,” she said.

The university also announced the move of Charter Oak College operations to the first two floors of the Downtown Campus building on Main Street. Other university offices will be consolidated in the upper two floors. About $2 million in renovations will be made to the first two floors to house the college and several dozen staff, according to CCSU spokeswoman Janice Palmer.

Charter Oak State College President Ed Klonoski said there approximately 75 employees will be transferring to the building, which he said would bring with it a good amount of business to the downtown district.

“We are excited about it. We love being part of New Britain,” said Klonoski.

Mayor Erin Stewart said she hopes the collaboration between the university and the business community finds a way to continue.

“I think the most important piece for me is to look at the service that ITBD has provided to the business community in New Britain and how we can continue that collaboration,” said Stewart.

“I believe most people understood,” said Galligan. “You don’t have to be happy with this decision, but you understand it,” he said.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Thursday, 2 May 2019 20:59. Updated: Thursday, 2 May 2019 21:02.