WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — After more than 40 years in state government and five as President of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, Mark Ojakian says it’s time for his retirement.
He says he’s been thinking about it for a while and thinks it’s time to pass the torch to a younger person.
Before overseeing 18 institutions under the Board of Regents, Ojakian was Governor Dannel Malloy’s Chief of Staff. But, he says he’s never forgotten his humble beginnings when he worked his first job at Stop & Shop at 15-years-old.
He says the pandemic did not play into his decision to retire and he’s committed to staying through the end of the year to oversee this difficult transition.
He says he’s proudest of the consolidation of the 12 community colleges and how many relationships he’s formed with students over the years.
“What their dreams are for the future, what are the obstacles that are put in their way for achieving those dreams, and what could I do as their leader in removing those obstacles,” said Ojakian.
He say one of the biggest challenges was balancing the books.
“Even though we had to entertain tuition increases over the past five years, I believe we’ve done a very good job keeping that to a minimum and, as a matter of fact, this fall we didn’t increase community college tuition at all,” he said.
He’s not leaving for another position. He plans to spend some time with his husband and grandchildren and still consult as a volunteer in state government when he can.