Earlier today, Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education met and voted to forward three names to Governor Malloy with the request that he pick one to serve as President of the combined State University and Community College System.
But the fact is that neither the Board of Regents nor the Governor has the authority to make the choice in this way.
According to Connecticut law, the Governor nominates the majority of the members of the Board of Regents and, according to the new Board of Regents law passed in 2011, “The Governor shall appoint the chairperson of the board…”
However when it comes to choosing the President of the Connecticut Board of Regents system, the law is absolutely and completely clear.
Section 10a-1b of the Connecticut State Statutes reads, “(a) The Governor shall appoint an interim president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education who shall serve as president until a successor is appointed and confirmed. On or after January 1, 2012, the president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education shall be recommended by the board and appointed by the Governor…”
Governor Malloy did appoint an interim President who was forced to resign after it was discovered that he inappropriately provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses to his staff.
And now it is “on or after January 1, 2012.”
The law is that, “the president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education shall be recommended by the board and appointed by the Governor…”
According to a story that has been posted on the CTMirror website, the Chairman of the Board of Regents, appointed by Malloy, said that the board sent three names for Governor Malloy to pick from following “a request from the governor’s chief of staff to do so.”
The CT Mirror reports that Board of Regents Chairman Lewis Robinson said, “Which ever one he chooses, we have a fine leader…I think all three are outstanding. I am excited.”
But as the CT Mirror goes on to note, “State law requires the board to recommend “the president” to the governor. The board’s decision was announced during a two-minute public meeting following an hour-long meeting of the board behind closed doors.”
“The governor had requested three. And I thought as a courtesy or respect to his office, it would be appropriate to accede to that wish,” Robinson told the CT Mirror.
But the law is the law.
And, this is a law that the Governor’s Chief of Staff helped write and personally lobbied.
If the Governor and General Assembly meant to have the Board of Regents forward three names to a sitting governor so that the governor could then wheel and deal, they would have done that.
Instead it was written in a way similar to the law for the University of Connecticut.
Connecticut law has always been clear that it is not the role of politicians to decide which academic should run our institutions of higher education.
Instead, the approach has always been that governors nominate and legislatures approved the members of the various boards who then have the duty to make the key personnel decisions removed, or at least somewhat, from the realm of partisan and personal politics.
The debate about how best to choose the President of the Board of Regents took place two years ago. A process was decided and that process was put into law.
That process provided that the Board of Regents would go through the selection process and choose who they deemed to be the best person for the job…and the governor would then appoint that person to the post.
The law is the law.
The Chairman of the Board of Regents had an obligation to tell Governor Malloy that the Board was legally obligated to follow the law.
The Board of Regents itself was obligated to tell the Governor that the Board was legally obligated to follow the law.
And Governor Malloy and his Chief of Staff should never have requested that the Board of Regents do anything but follow the law.
As citizens of the state of Connecticut we are left wondering…
What will it take for the Governor of this state to admit that even he is not above the laws of Connecticut?
Meanwhile, Connecticut’s Attorney General should be on the phone right now ordering the Board of Regents to re-convene and conduct themselves in a manner that fulfills their duties under the laws of Connecticut, regardless of what the Governor has asked them to do.
You can find the CT Mirror story here: http://www.ctmirror.com/story/19641/governor-will-get-pick-next-college-president