(Or, after translating that to English, read – have these people lost their collective minds?)
Everyone knows that without an educated workforce, Connecticut’s economic future is somewhere between non-functioning and non-existent.
So despite running for office on a platform of increasing funding for public higher education, one of the first things Governor Malloy did was push through the deepest cuts in state history for Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, cuts that, in turn, lead to higher tuition and fees.
Then Governor Malloy pushed through an ill-conceived, counter-productive, merger of the Connecticut State University and the Connecticut Community and Technical College systems. It was a bad idea the when it was proposed twice over the last 20 years, but both of those times it was soundly rejected.
Then the Governor recruited Robert Kennedy to serve as President of the Board of Regents. Kenney’s expertise was not in leading teaching universities or community colleges, but in what are called “land-grant research universities,” of which we already have one, it is called the University of Connecticut.
As President of the University of Maine, his claim to fame was the development of the “New Model Land-Grant University.” In fact, according to Kennedy it was his initiative that “The University of Maine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences” was formed, in partnership with none-other-than The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.
In short, Malloy’s choice to run the new Board of Regents had exactly the wrong expertise to develop a successful State University and Community College system. Meanwhile, a former state senator and personal friend of Malloy’s gets the job of Executive Vice President.
Then Kennedy authorized a series of 21 illegal raises, including a $48,000 increase for the Elsa Nunez, the President of Eastern Connecticut State University, who was also taking on the responsibilities of Vice President for State Universities. Another recipient of a $48,000 was David Levinson, the President of Norwalk Community College, who was adding Vice President for Community Colleges to his title. Meotti, the Executive Vice President, also snagged a raise of nearly $50,000 from Kennedy, despite the fact he didn’t have the authority to increase anyone’s salary.
Along came the CT Mirror, and thanks to their investigative reporting, the whole inappropriate situation became public. Board of Regent’s President Kennedy and Executive Vice President Meotti both resigned, and the illegal raises for all 21 individuals were rescinded.
And then today, the Board of Regents met and reinstated the raises of Vice President for State Universities, Elsa Nunez, and Vice President for Community Colleges, David Levinson.
The rationale for reinstating the raises, according to members of the Board of Regents, and as reported in today’s CT Mirror, was that, “the raises were discussed during a closed executive session last year but not voted on in public…[and] The presidents also signed letters of agreement with the system approving the increase at that time”
Apparently the board felt those two factors helped to persuade them to reinstate the raises. Yet the state law could not be clearer, the requirement was not that the Board of Regents discuss raises in private; it was that the Board of Regents and ONLY THE BOARD OF REGENTS has the authority to set compensation.
And just because these two people signed letters accepting illegal raises DOES NOT MAKE THE RAISES APPROPRIATE OR LEGAL.
But, according to Board of Regent member Yvette Melendez, “Reinstating these individuals in these roles makes sense.”
The question isn’t whether these people should be “reinstated” as Vice Presidents under the Board of Regents; the question is whether or not it is appropriate to increase Nunez’s salary by 16 percent, bringing her pay to $347,460 or raising Levinson’s salary by 24 percent, bringing his pay to $252,188.
With ten percent of Connecticut residents out of work, and nearly ten percent more underemployed, not to mention the huge cuts to public colleges, and the new tuition and fee hikes the Board of Regents have and will be adopting, why not simply tell these two administrators to take their $200,000 plus and $300,000 plus salaries and get back to work.
In a year or two, if the economy is better, and these two administrators have proven their worth, then let the Board of Regents consider increasing their salaries.
And in the meantime, if the salaries are not enough to get them to stay, then the quicker they move on the better, so we can get people who are committed enough to do the jobs with salaries that are already excessive.
For more, check out the latest CTMirror: http://ctmirror.com/story/17890/president-raises