Earlier this afternoon, Governor Malloy held a press conference to introduce his pick for the position of President of the combined Connecticut State University and Connecticut Community College System.
Kennedy recently stepped down as the President of the University of Maine which is one of the seven universities that make up Maine’s University System.
After becoming provost and vice president of academic affairs in 2000, he was later named executive vice president and provost and then selected as the University’s President in 2005.
Kennedy earned his Ph.D. in botany from the University of California-Berkeley and has held faculty and
administrative positions at the University of Iowa, Washington State University, Ohio State University, the University of Maryland and Texas A&M University.
At the University of Maine he presided over a series of significant budget cuts that included reducing the number of university employees by 7 percent.
An interesting side note is that even in the North Woods of Maine the corporatization of higher education continues to take place as the line between academia and business becomes more and more blurred.
Two years after being named President of the University of Maine, Kennedy was given a position on the Board of Directors of FairPoint Communications.
FairPoint is a North Carolina based telephone and Internet company that owns and operates at least 30 local phone companies in 18 states. Three years ago FairPoint purchased Verizon’s telecommunications operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
According to published news reports, Kennedy was appointed to FairPoint thanks to Verizon. As part of the sales deal between Verizon and FairPoint, Verizon had the right to appoint three members to FairPoint’s Board of Directors and Kennedy was one of those appointed.
One of a number of controversies that developed occurred when FairPoint and the University of Maine System were competing head-to-head for federal dollars as part of an effort to enhance high-speed internet in Maine. However spokespeople for Fairpoint and the Maine University System both reported that Kennedy was not involved in those discussions.
As a member of FairPoint’s Board of Director, Kennedy was paid $84,068 in 2008 and $89,229 in 2009. At the time his University of Maine salary was $210,405 (not including benefits).
In June 2009 Kennedy was re-elected to serve on FairPoint’s board through 2012.
However, FairPoint corporate filings reveal that Mr. Kennedy resigned from the Board of Directors
effective September 28, 2009. There was no explanation as to why Kennedy left the Board.
A possible clue behind Kennedy’s decision to leave the lucrative post might be revealed in an article in Down-East Magazine’s September 2009 issue.
The article, entitled “The FairPoint Fiasco” highlights what the magazine described FairPoint’s ten month slide from Maine’s newest company to one of Maine’s “most hated.”
More recently Kennedy, a Minnesota native, was nominated to become a member of the Minnesota Board of Regents but the legislatures there choose another candidate.
Robert Kennedy will now be coming to Connecticut to oversee Malloy’s controversial plan to merge the four Connecticut State Universities with the 12 Connecticut Community Colleges.
Considering the historic and massive budget cuts that Malloy proposed and the Legislature adopted for Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, Kennedy’s retrenchment experience might be just what the Governor was looking for.
UPDATE: So Kennedy’s Connecticut salary will be $365,000 including a $25,000 per year performance bonus … a nice increase from the $210,000 he was making as President of the University of Maine.