The Planning Commission for Higher Education was established by sec. 10a-11b of Connecticut General Statutes to develop and ensure the implementation of a strategic master plan that:
- Examines the impact of demographic, workforce and education trends on higher education in the state;
- Establishes numerical goals ... to increase the number of people earning a bachelor’s degree, associate degree or certificate, increases the number of people successfully completing coursework at the community college level and the number of people entering the state’s workforce and eliminates the postsecondary achievement gap between minority students and the general student population, and (B) includes specific strategies for meeting such goals.’
- Examines and recommends changes to funding policies, practices and accountability; and
- Recommends ways in which each constituent unit of the state system of higher education and independent institution of higher education in the state can, in a manner consistent with such institution’s mission, expand such institution’s role in advancing the state’s economic growth.
As a foundation for the work of the Planning Commission, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) conducted extensive analyses about the population, demographics, economy, and workforce of Connecticut and of different regions within the state.
Based on these analyses, the NCHEMS staff prepared a draft set of postsecondary education goals for the state. These were reviewed by the Planning Commission and revised as a result of discussions with that group. Subsequently they were subjected to review by a wide variety of stakeholders throughout the state. The goals and a synopsis of the analyses that led to their selection were the topics of open discussion with:
- Employers in a broad array of industries
- Economic and community development professionals
- Workforce development professionals
- Members of the executive branch of the state government — policy staff, leadership of the Office of Planning and Management, agency heads (Community and Economic Development, Labor)
- Education leaders — UConn, CSCU (including regional and on-campus meetings with institutional presidents and their staffs), CCIC staff and the presidents of independent institutions
- Leaders of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, MetroHartford Alliance, and the Business Council of Fairfield County
As a result of these consultations and discussions, the Planning Commission affirmed the goals with only slight modifications in wording.
Concurrent with the data analysis, goal formulation, and review activities, NCHEMS conducted a review of the state policies and procedures that could affect implementation of the goals, asking the questions:
- What new policies are needed to promote goal achievement?
- What existing policies are serving as barriers to achievement?
These questions were pursued in the meetings with the stakeholders listed above.
As a result of these activities a statement of goals has been developed and formally adopted by the Planning Commission. In addition a base set of metrics to be used in monitoring progress toward goal achievement has been developed and reviewed by the Commission. Finally, observations about the policy environment and barriers to successful goal implementation have been compiled, presented to, and discussed with the Commission.
The intent of the strategic master plan is to provide an overall framework for the strategic plans of each major segment of higher education in Connecticut. In this respect, it is a strategic plan for the state as a whole and differs from the strategic plans for the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), and the individual independent institutions.