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Minnesota educator tapped as president of Connecticut community college system

Connecticut's Board of Regents for Higher Education
Dr. John Maduko was appointed by the Board of Regents for Higher Education to lead the newly merged Connecticut community college system.

A new leader will take the reins as the president of Connecticut’s newly merged state community college system to guide more than 32,000 students at 12 campuses.

Dr. John Maduko was appointed by the Board of Regents for Higher Education on Wednesday. He is a medical doctor and vice president of Academic and Student Affairs for Minnesota State Community and Technical College, a position he has served in since 2019. He will start his new job on June 3.

“Together we will write a new history, one that celebrates meeting the needs of the students, the surrounding communities, embracing enrollment challenges, maintaining the institution and academic integrity, and fulfilling the college’s vision for student success,” said Maduko during a news conference at Manchester Community College. He was joined by Gov. Ned Lamont, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Terrence Cheng, Board of Regents Chair Matt Fleury and other education officials.

Maduko said he came to Connecticut because he believed the newly merged community college system, called CT State, has a mission that is meaningful and authentic.

“We are establishing a ‘new normal’ of higher education,” he said. “The impact of the pandemic over the last two and a half years has been enormous and will have long-lasting effects. But there is an even stronger history here of success in academics and career programs, student affairs and wraparound student services that we will leverage.”

The 12-school merger proposal by CSCU was approved by a regional accreditor in March. The final approval and accreditation process is expected to take about 15 months. Education officials said the reasons for the merger are to increase student enrollment, return the community college system to financial stability and have a consistent process.

Student enrollment at the state’s community colleges has been declining for years, a decline that education officials said was exacerbated by the pandemic. The state saw peak enrollment in 2010 with over 50,000 students.

Maduko said one of the first steps to increase enrollment is to continue meeting the needs of the people who are still reeling from the pandemic, including the need for workforce training, mental health services and child care.

“We have to be more aligned to going to the students as it pertains to what we can do to help them to get to their ultimate destination,” said Maduko, who also emphasized the need to use data to determine what the demands are and what the schools can offer.

Cheng said Maduko is someone who understands the need to change and innovate based on data and the needs of the students they serve.

“He also understands the importance of community buy-in, for a constructive working relationship with all employees within the college,” said Cheng. “In short, he knows how to work together and get tough things done. I am confident that, thanks in large part to his experience as an educator and his laser focus on student success and equity, that John will be a tremendous leader for CT State.”

A national search was conducted by the Board of Regents, according to CSCU. A search advisory committee, consisting of more than 40 students, faculty, professional staff, administrators, foundation leaders, union representatives and external partners, was involved in interviewing candidates and making recommendations.