Arrogance and Hubris at the University of Connecticut

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The great actor and musician Theodore Bikel once said;

All too often arrogance accompanies strength, and we must never assume that justice is on the side of the strong. The use of power must always be accompanied by moral choice.

As if to prove the point, in recent years, the administration of the University of Connecticut saw fit to destroy the historic and respected non-profit UConn Co-op bookstore…because it wasn’t profitable enough.

It also destroyed the university’s age-old alumni association…because it was deemed too independent and perceived not to be loyal enough when it came to meeting the administration’s demands.

And now, despite more than 30 years of work and a state law anointing UConn’s Museum of Natural History as Connecticut’s official State Museum of Natural History, the UConn administration has unilaterally closed the important facility…because even the law isn’t enough to limit UConn’s hubris.

UConn’s student newspaper, the Daily Campus, reports on the latest development in an article entitled, Former Connecticut lawmaker: UConn broke law in museum relocation.  Student reporter, Marlese Lessing explains;

The University of Connecticut has violated the law in its recent relocation of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, said Jonathan Pelto, who co-sponsored the Senate Bill establishing the museum in 1985.

The museum, which was relocated from its former home on Hillside Road earlier in August, was established by Senate Bill 341 (Public Act 85-563) in 1985, as an act by the Connecticut State Legislature.

“What the University has done violates the letter and the spirit of (the law) we originally intended,” Pelto said. “It’s a problem that can’t be explained away by what the university has (previously) said.”

The museum was originally intended to prepare exhibits and education programs about the natural history of Connecticut. A board of directors was to be established and be in charge of the museum’s planning.

According to co-chair of the museum’s current board, Natalie Munro, the board of directors did not make the decision to move the museum – the UConn administration did.

“It wasn’t up to us,” Munro said. “We suggested a few alternatives to try to keep the building, but ultimately UConn made the decision.”

The museum’s relocation violated the law, since the decision to move it was not up to the board of directors, Pelto said, and because the museum no longer exists in a physical location.

University spokesman Tom Breen said the university owns the building on Hillside, and that buildings and resources are allocated by the university under its authority, based on its needs as a whole.

“The language of the law requires only that the museum be ‘within The University of Connecticut,’” Breen said. “At the time the law was passed, the museum wasn’t located in the old Apple Sales Building on Hillside Road, and it moved more than once before arriving in Hillside Road. Like other programs contained within the university, the State Museum of Natural History has been allocated resources to help meet its responsibilities and fulfill its mission, and the university remains committed to that.”

Though the museum no longer has a physical location, it still exists as an institution, running programs and exhibits throughout the university, according to UConn Today. The museum’s relocation involved moving it to the Office of Public Engagement where the museum will focus more on public relations, Breen said.

“With so much of the museum’s work involving public education and community outreach, it made sense to house it in the relatively new Office of Public Engagement,” Breen said. “The Office of the Provost, the Office of Public Engagement and the museum’s staff were all involved in the process of making the transition, with the goal of positioning the museum to successfully carry out its mission.”

Running programs simply isn’t enough to constitute a museum, Pelto said. It needs to have a physical location to fulfill its purpose stated in the bill, or there is no museum.

“Having programs isn’t sufficient to having a museum. The university is violating the law and either needs to stop that or be held accountable,” Pelto said.

The building on Hillside was home to the museum for 16 years. The museum was originally housed in several units by Horsebarn Hill before its relocation to the building on Hillside in 2000, according to its current director Leanne Kennedy Harty.

The building had potential, but required several renovations before it could be a displayable museum, including modifications to the second floor to make it more exhibit-friendly, Harty said.

Although the UConn 2000 (Now 21st Century UConn) plan included a $5M line item for the museum’s renovations in the early 2000s, Harty said, budget cuts left the museum without the promised expansions.

“(When) the project got cut, we were left in the building without the commitment through the capital project to expand,” Harty said. “So we just tried raise the money ourselves.”

About $500,000 in donated funds from museum supporters was used to renovate the second floor, Harty said. Lighting, displays, classrooms and other modifications were completed in 2007. The donations made up about half of the renovation budget, Harty said, with UConn paying for the other half.

Now that the museum has been moved, the building space is inhabited by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences administrative offices. The renovations paid for by the donor money can no longer be used by the museum.

“It’s hard,” Harty said. “I feel like we need to do right by the people who gave money… A lot of time and energy went into planning the exhibits.”

The museum’s relocation was a logistical decision, Breen said, due to the scheduled demolition of Faculty Row, which formerly housed several administrative offices.

“The decision to relocate the offices of the Museum of Natural History came out of the process by which the museum became part of our Office of Public Engagement,” Breen said. “With building space at a premium on campus, the university is always looking for the best ways to use our resources. The move…puts the CLAS Academic Services Center in a building close to the heart of campus.”

The loss of the building, however, meant an end to many potential plans and exhibits, Munro said.

“We were initially disappointed to lose the building, because we spent many years fighting to get a building, and working to raise money to get a building,” Munro said. “Ultimately we hoped to expand so we could better serve the needs of the museum. It took away our ability to have a real museum that had the collections and the public engagement space all in one location.”

There are still buildings around Horsebarn Hill, Harty said, where the museum keeps several exhibits and collections. However, the relocation from the Hillside Road building represented a loss to a public exhibition space.

Although UConn has the authority to the buildings, Pelto said, the university also has a responsibility to the museum to give it a permanent, physical building.

“They have an obligation to find an alternate location,” Pelto said. “They can’t not have a museum.”

The University of Connecticut’s arrogance and hubris has become all too commonplace.

Perhaps such action should be expected from a state university that pays its president upwards toward $1 million dollars a year.

The stunning reality is that the University of Connecticut has become an institution where students and families are required to pay more and get less.

You can read and comment on the original Daily Campus article at: http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/11/16/former-connecticut-lawmaker-uconn-broke-law-in-museum-relocation

UConn 2000 Program – UConn broke the law and was caught.  Now they are doing it again

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From today’s CT Mirror

UConn first came under fire over its capital program in 2005 amid reports that new dormitories that hadn’t been subjected to fire and other safety code inspections had been opened and were housing roughly 5,000 students.

An investigatory panel appointed by Rell and chaired by former Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, concluded UConn had improperly shifted tens of millions of dollars from one project to another. That investigation also showed that funds earmarked for deferred maintenance were used for expansions and new construction.

Rell and the legislature responded with several reforms in 2006, including creation of the Construction Management Oversight Committee. It was was comprised of seven members — four appointed jointly by the governor and legislative leaders and three named by the UConn Board of Trustees. UConn also appoints the chairman of the oversight panel.

“The Governor’s Commission on UConn Review and Accountability recommended a strict oversight process for UConn 2000 building funds,” Pelto said Monday. “The legislature put those recommendations into law. … It is beyond shocking that they have returned to their old ways and have been ducking the mandated oversight process.”

As the CT Mirror reports in, State officials let UConn 2000 oversight panel languish for years,

Deprived of overdue appointments, the panel tasked with overseeing the University of Connecticut’s capital building program has not met since December 2014, according to records obtained by The Mirror.

Governors and legislative leaders have not made appointments to the UConn 2000 Construction Management Oversight Committee since 2009, despite repeated warnings from the university that some members’ terms had expired.

This disclosure comes two weeks after state auditors reported UConn improperly redirected nearly $50 million in funds earmarked for deferred maintenance, instead spending it to expand and upgrade various facilities. The redirection of deferred maintenance funds was one of the chief allegations raised 11 years ago that led legislators and then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell to establish the oversight committee in law.

And while Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office was uncertain Monday about the need for new appointees — and questioned the recent conclusions of state Auditors John C. Geragosian and Robert M. Ward — several legislative leaders took a different stand, recommending that the committee be reactivated and saying that UConn needs greater oversight now.

You can read the entire disturbing story at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/09/27/state-officials-let-uconn-2000-oversight-panel-languish-for-years/

Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn (Sarah Darer Littman)

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The truth is that UConn needs a lot more than transparency – its needs a new President, new top administrators, a new Board of Trustees and a new Governor.

In a CT Newsjunkie column last week, education advocate Sarah Darer Littman highlighted the UConn management’s fiscally irresponsible, tone-deaf and elitist leadership style, an approach in which the President receives raises and bonuses and hands out large pay raises to her top staff, all while the state’s “flagship” university faces one record budget cut after another.

Perhaps more than any other area of state government, Governor Dannel Malloy’s disdain for doing the right thing has been on full display at Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.

Claiming to be concerned about Connecticut’s economy, Malloy’s state budget policies have undercut college and career educational opportunities by dramatically reducing state support, which in turn, has led to much higher tuition and fees, all while reducing the level of programing at UConn and the state’s other colleges and universities.

Yet at the very same time, with Malloy serving as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the Board and UConn President have increased the already outrageously high salaries of top administrators at the University.

It is, as Sarah Darer Littman wrote, a “let them eat cake” moment.

As Littman explains in her Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn commentary piece,

Connecticut’s political parties might be increasingly polarized, but there’s one issue upon which they finally reached unanimous agreement: UConn President Susan Herbst has had a “let them eat cake” moment and her Board of Trustees is utterly tone deaf.

Jump into the DeLorean, fire up the Flux Capacitor and set the date for February 24, 2015, when President Herbst testified about how cuts to the university’s block grant would have dire impacts on the quality of education at the university:

 “A reduction to the appropriation in that amount would without question have a devastating impact on every aspect of university operations, faculty teaching and research, and student success . . . The greatest consequences of this would be the effect it would have on our students, our academic programs, and the role UConn must play in the state’s future, economic and otherwise. It would be a giant step backward. To address the gap this would create, our cost savings and revenue options will include: strategic workforce reductions and, to the extent permitted by collective bargaining obligations, unpaid furlough days for all employees including management and unionized workers, reductions to student financial aid, closing academic departments and programs including in Storrs and the regional campuses and ending certain degree programs.”

As of February, 30 faculty members had been laid off, according to Michael Bailey, Executive Director of the UConn chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors). It’s happening across the country — tenured professor positions are being filled by less expensive adjuncts for whom the university isn’t required to pay benefits.

“Approximately 50 percent of the faculty is off the tenure track with adjuncts accounting for 25 percent of those. There has been about a 10 percent increase in adjunct faculty use in the Fall semesters since 2010,” according to Bailey.

Yet despite this, at a time of massive state budget deficits and statewide layoffs, President Herbst and the Board of Trustees have chosen — because let’s be clear, it’s a choice — to go forward with massive pay increases to a few non-union administrators on the basis that “everyone else is doing it.” One can’t help but think of that oft-heard parental reprimand, “If all your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you do that, too?”

“The university does not run itself,” President Herbst reminded Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Senate Chair of the Higher Education Committee, in a letter responding to their questions. “We strongly believe in hiring high quality employees in order to fulfill UConn’s potential and ensure that we are as good as we can be as an institution. There are undeniably costs to that including the pay for the four people that prompted your letter, out of a workforce of more than 9,000.”

“I believe a contract is a contract and people should abide by contracts,” Board of Trustees chair Larry McHugh told the Hartford Courant.

What’s interesting — and revealing — is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s position. He was stridently adamant that labor unions reduce their contractual benefits in light of the new fiscal situation

Those who care about the state’s fiscal survival, let alone the future of the University of Connecticut, would do well to read Littman’s piece which can be found at:

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_herbsts_let_the_eat_cake_moment_shows_need_for_transparency_at_uconn/

The logical conclusion after reading it is that Connecticut AND UConn are in need of new leadership….

For more on UConn and its problems, read;

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

Was UConn President channeling Donald Trump in interview with student reporter?  (Part I)

ALERT:  Malloy’s Budget Cuts lead to another 23% Tuition Increase at UConn plus 7%

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

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Although Governor Dannel Malloy has consistently ducked his responsibility as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the buck actually does stop on his desk…. Even while he pretends it doesn’t

Back in January 27, 2016, the UConn’s Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, except for one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Then, as the concerns were raised about the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Dannel Malloy suddenly become critical of the agreement – despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy’s own personal representative on the Board had missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

Malloy’s personal representative has missed every meeting since then, having now missed 15 of the last 18 UConn Trustee meetings.

Malloy pretended like it all occurred on someone else’s watch and demanded the contract be withdrawn or defeated.

Now, six months later, the CT Mirror is reporting a new and even more shocking controversy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 – A few top UConn officials get pay increases despite tough times (CT Mirror)

In a fiscally challenging year in which few non-union managers received pay increases – at UConn or elsewhere in state government – President Susan Herbst is sticking by promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to give multiyear increases to four senior staff.

In December 2014 – one month after the governor cut state funding for UConn by $3.7 million and warned more cuts would come before the fiscal year ended – Herbst gave three of her most senior staff members hefty pay increases over two or three fiscal years.

Those increases went to the university’s general counsel, chief architect and Herbst’s deputy chief of staff. In 2013 she awarded her chief of staff increases and bonuses over the next three fiscal years.

Thursday, June 23, 2016 –  Legislative leaders call UConn ‘tone deaf’ over raises for top staff (CT Mirror)

Legislative leaders Thursday blasted hefty pay increases University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst awarded to four senior staff members as the state and public university grapple with big budget cuts.

“UConn’s administration continues to be tone deaf to the economic realities facing our state. Handing out exorbitant raises to their highest-paid staffers while at the same time increasing tuition on hard-working families is the height of arrogance,” House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday afternoon. “As state employee layoffs approach the 1,000 mark, and virtually every state agency is dealing with severe budget cuts, the leadership in Storrs has shown once again they just don’t get it.”

Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, in a statement shortly afterward, called on UConn to rescind the raises.

“Really?! You’ve got to be kidding me. One might have thought that the examples of the disastrous mistakes of Chancellor Gray and President Hogan would have left a more lasting impact on decisions regarding raises for administrators in higher education. At a time when painful reductions are being imposed throughout state government, UConn should not see itself as an isolated and privileged exception. I urge President Herbst to reconsider and rescind these untimely raises,” said Looney.

The Connecticut Mirror reported Wednesday that Herbst was sticking to promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to award multiple-year, double-digit percentage pay increases to the university’s general counsel, chief architect and Herbst’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff.

All received pay increases in the 2015-16 fiscal year even though few other non-union managers did – at UConn or elsewhere in state government.

The school’s top lawyer received a $55,000 increase over two fiscal years, her chief of staff received a $50,000 increase over three fiscal years and her chief architect received a $45,000 increase over two fiscal years. The general counsel and chief of staff also received bonuses of $25,000 to $30,000 each year.

Bonuses and pay raises for a select few elites while state employees are being laid off, tuition is going up and programs are being cut.

The reverse Robin Hood Effect continues to move forward at full steam.

Now watch for Malloy to wake from his stupor and demand something… anything in order to look good in the face of this disturbing development.

But face it, the one thing that won’t happen is for Malloy to take responsibility for his utter lack of leadership on the Connecticut budget or his failure to do what is right for UConn’s students and the institution’s future.

Was UConn President channeling Donald Trump in interview with student reporter?  (Part I)

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At the end of last month, UConn Daily Campus reporter Kyle Constable sat down with UConn President Susan Herbst for an interview.  Among the topics covered was the controversy surrounding the fate of the UConn Co-op, the institution that has been serving students, faculty and the greater UConn community for the past 41 years.

While President Herbst’s answers to the student reporter’s questions were telling, the session was notable, not so much for what UConn’s President said, but how she conducted herself when dealing with a member of the media.

Upon reading the recorded transcript of the interview, one possible conclusion is that when no one was looking, Donald Trump snuck into the President’s office and possessed Herbst’s mind.  Alternatively, Herbst has been studying Trump’s meteoric rise and decided to take a page out of The Donald’s abusive and insulting approach to reporters and the media.

In any case, the public servant who collected a salary and benefits in excess of $768,558 during the last fiscal year – a $50,000 raise from the year before – managed to turn a routine “end-of-the-year” interview into a situation that should be cause for concern for UConn’s students, faculty and alumni, as well as, the state’s taxpayers and policymakers.

As background, the corporatization of the University of Connecticut took another strong step forward last month with UConn’s announcement that Barnes & Noble had been selected to replace the historic UConn Co-op bookstores.  The UConn Co-op is closing and the national bookstore chain will step in with a promise to improve services and upgrade facilities.

Prices may (or may not) go up, depending on who is assessing the situation, but one of the benefits – according to reports produced by the University of Connecticut – is that UConn will receive “millions of dollars” in revenues from the sale of books and other items sold at the new Barnes & Noble stores.

The move to turn UConn’s non-profit bookstore over to a for-profit company has generated significant controversy.  See:  UConn Co-op Bookstore Could Be Replaced By National Corporation (Hartford Courant 12/8/15), UConn Co-op to be replaced by national corporation (Daily Campus 3/11/16), Barnes & Noble to Lead UConn’s Bookstore Operation (UConn Today 4/27/16)

However, as noted, the news of the moment is not about the bookstore but about the UConn President’s demeanor when sitting down with a reporter who was asking legitimate and important policy questions.

In a case like this, it is best to simply let the content speak for itself.

The Daily Campus headline read – One-on-one: Herbst talks UConn’s path forward in face of uncertainty

Then leaping to the subsection entitled: The Co-op, Barnes & Noble

Constable [The UConn Daily Campus reporter]: The Co-op has been an institution at the university for a very, very long time. There were questions about its ability fiscally sustainable in the long term for some time. Looking at the Storrs Center bookstore location – folks over at the Co-op would say they were forced into it despite the fact that they knew it would put them in a position to make the fiscally unsustainable. Did the university make a decision that ultimately resulted in the Co-op not being able to remain its bookstore?

President Herbst: No, and we have communicated a lot on this subject, yeah, we’re done. (Looking at deputy chief of staff Michael Kirk) You have anything to add?

President Herbst’s Deputy chief of Staff Kirk: About the Co-op?

President Herbst: Yeah.

Kirk: No, I mean, it’s important to keep in mind this change wasn’t just about whether or not the Co-op was profitable. Whether it’s profitable or not, the concern on their part was they didn’t they could make it for the long term. They didn’t have a way out, other than a university bailout. At the same time, there was mounting complaints from students, and faculty and fans and others saying this is not the bookstore that we want, not the bookstore we need. So those things combined led the university to say, “We should look at what our alternatives are.” It’s wasn’t just, “Oh, the Co-op’s not profitable, therefore—” It was, “We’re not getting the kind of service out of this that we need as big university in the 21st century.”

Constable: So talk a little bit about what Barnes & Noble brings to the table for the future of the university.

President Herbst: Yeah, we had— have you read all our material about this?

Constable: Of course.

President Herbst: Yeah, so, have you been to Barnes & Noble recently? Like the Yale Co-op?

Constable: Yes, earlier this week.

President Herbst: That’s what you’re going to get, getting great programming. We’ll have guarantees on how many community programs and authors, but we’ll have our own events there, too. You will have a guarantee about textbook prices and a matching program, which we don’t have right now. There will be more and diverse gear. I mean, I think you see the difference between the Yale bookstore and what we’ve had. So, there it was, right in front of you.

So there you are – it is right in front of you!

Or as Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Edition put it –“JANE, YOU IGNORANT SLUT.”

Yale bookstore good

UConn Co-op bad

Yale bookstore is for winners

UConn Co-op is for losers

 Barnes & Nobile is the kind of store UConn needs to be, “a big university in the 21st century.”

And PS, anyone who doesn’t get it is just stupid

Or as Trump put it,

 “We’re not going to lose. We’re going to start winning again and we’re going to win big-ly.” – Donald Trump 5/3/16

 

To fully appreciate President Herbst’s entire approach, check out the full Daily Campus article at: http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/5/6/one-on-one-herbst-talks-uconns-path-forward-in-face-of-uncertainty

CT Dem Governor urges Dem Legislature to reject union contract his appointees negotiated and approved

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Governor Dannel Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees and appoints and controls a majority of the votes on the Board.  On January 27, 2016, UConn’s Trustees voted 15 – 0 to adopt a new contract with the University of Connecticut’s non-teaching professional staff.  Malloy’s personal representative to the Board of Trustees skipped the meeting.  In fact, they haven’t shown up for 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings.

But Malloy’s neglect to perform his gubernatorial duties didn’t stop him from issuing a press release condemning the new contract and instructing the Democratic controlled General Assembly to reject the contract.

These days, Donald Trump is the world’s leader when it comes to a detachment from facts and reality, but by his action today, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who also serves as the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, rocketed into his own parallel universe by calling on the legislature to reject a contract his own political appointees approved.

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, Malloy is President of the UConn Board of Trustees, he appoints and controls a majority of the members of the Board, yet his personal representative on the UConn Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings including the one in January where the Board of Trustees voted to approve the contract 15-0 (with on abstention).

Malloy’s latest neo-liberal, anti-state employee maneuver is laid out in a CT Newsjunkie article entitled, “Malloy Urges Legislature To Reject UConn Labor Contract.”  The CT Newsjunkie reports;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged the General Assembly to reject a labor contract for 1,900 non-teaching staff at the University of Connecticut.

The legislature has until March 9 to vote on the contract before it automatically goes into effect.

Malloy, who was still on vacation in Puerto Rico Wednesday, sent out a statement repeating remarks he made last week about the state’s fiscal situation. Except, this time he took it a step further and urged rejection of the five year contract, which includes a wage hike and an increase in hours. Malloy, who hesitated last week to offer a firm opinion on the issue, said the contract negotiated last year between the University of the Union does not reflect “our new economic reality.”

The CT Mirror, in Malloy urges rejecting UConn labor pact, explains

After nudging legislators to reject a labor deal granting raises at the University of Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gave them a hard push Wednesday, publicly urging rejection of a contract the university negotiated with its Professional Employees Union.

“We must value and support those that serve the public,” Malloy wrote in a statement. “This contract was negotiated in good faith, and I appreciate the work of UConn and UCPEA. At the same time, agreements negotiated between labor and management must reflect our new economic reality. This contract, which was negotiated last year, does not.”

The leaders of the Senate Democratic majority quickly agreed with the governor, an indication the Senate is prepared to formally reject the contract, which covers nearly 1,900 non-teaching professionals at UConn.

Malloy’s failure to tell legislators, the media and Connecticut voters the truth about his utter failure to influence the process and raise concerns prior to the labor contract’s adoption by his appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees is a testament to his ability to say anything, even when it ignores reality.

The truth is that Malloy had the chance to fulfill his duties as Governor of Connecticut and a “leader” of the Democratic Party, he failed to act.

And now, in a gratuitous pandering move to appear “fiscally” attentive, he throws Connecticut’s state employees under the bus … again!

As explained in yesterday’s Wait, What? post Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…,

On January 27, 2016, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, but one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Over the past week, ratification of the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly has become controversial and Governor Dannel Malloy has suddenly become critical of the agreement despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy’s own personal representative on the Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

As the debate grows, a headline in the Hartford Courant reads, “GOP Leaders Call for Vote Soon on Controversial UConn Contract.”  The Courant reports;

Len Fasano and House Republican leader Themis Klarides are calling for the full legislature to vote on a controversial contract for nearly 2,000 non-teaching employees at the University of Connecticut.

The contract will automatically go into effect if the legislature takes no action by March 9. But Fasano, other Republicans, and some Democrats say that a vote is needed on the multi-million-dollar contract to set the tone for future union awards. The contract calls for a 3 percent raise in the first year and then 4.5 percent increases for four consecutive years – including an increase in the workweek from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Last week, the CT Mirror article entitled,  Malloy: UConn pay raises don’t reflect new economic reality, explained that Governor Dannel Malloy was critical of the new state employee contract with non-teaching professional staff at the University of Connecticut claiming that it was out of step with current economic conditions.

Speaking at press conference, Malloy said;

“That contract does not fully represent the new economic reality, and I have some concerns about it, but the legislature is in charge on this one.  I think there is an economic reality that people are having a hard time adjusting to.”

[…]

The pending contract for the 1,839 members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association provides for annual raises ranging from 3 to 4.5 percent over the next five years.

[…]

“I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it. I think I am going pretty far by saying that if it’s approved, if it becomes the contract, it will be a contract made in this year that will make all other contracts much more difficult to enter into, or to negotiate. It has implications… It’s going to make the legislature’s job a lot harder if they intend to balance the budget.”

Wait, What? 

Malloy said, “The legislature is in charge on this one.” 

And added, “I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it.”

Is Governor Malloy that naïve or does he really think we are that stupid?

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, the governor serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees.

Malloy appointed 12 of the 21 regular members of the UConn Board AND his Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development are all members of the UConn Board due to the positions they hold in the Malloy administration.

Malloy also appoints a personal representative to the board to attend in his absence.

In the parlance of politics, the governor controls the votes.

The truth is that all of Governor Malloy’s appointees to the UConn Board voted in favor of the proposed state employee contract including Board Chairman Larry McHugh, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor.

To even suggest that he had no role in the decision to approve the contract can only mean that he intentionally overlooked the important role he plays on the UConn Board of Trustees or he has decided to lie to the voters of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about whether the State Senate and State House of Representatives will hold a vote on the contract.  According to the latest Courant story,

The House Democrats talked about the UConn contract during their closed-door caucus last week at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, but no final decisions have been announced on whether there will be a vote by the full legislature.

[…]

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who will play a key role in whether there is a formal vote, is concerned about the price of the contract for the UConn Professional Employees Association, known as UCPEA.

“Everyone understands the overall budget challenges we face, and I heard from legislators, both on the committee and not, who expressed understandable concerns, which I share, over the price tag of this contract,” Sharkey said.  “Through no fault of UCPEA, it is apparent that UConn negotiated this without consideration of the economic reality of the state, and their CFO couldn’t say how they are going to pay for it. The truth is it has to either come from taxpayers, more tuition hikes, or layoffs, and that concerns me greatly.”

A longtime political insider said the UConn contract is probably the most important union vote, politically, at the Capitol in the past 10 years.

Republicans say the legislature’s budget-writing committee missed a chance last week to set the fiscal tone by failing to block the contract for professional employees. House members on the committee voted in favor of the contract, which some legislators described as unaffordable and others said should be approved because it was bargained in good faith and approved by the university.

While the House members approved the contract, the Senate members battled to a 6-6 tie as they debated over whether the full legislature should approve the contract.

Sen. Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, voted in favor of the deal because she said that turning it down could eventually cost the state even more money.

[…]

Sen. John Kissel, a longtime lawmaker from Enfield who voted against the contract, said in an interview that the contract could eventually boomerrang on the employees.

“They’re setting themselves up for layoffs,” Kissel told Capitol Watch.  “I think it sets a bad standard because we have 15 others coming up. The other unions would look to that and say there’s precedent.”

Setting aside the arguments for and against this particular contract, the most amazing news of all is Malloy’s attempt to revise the reality surrounding his role in the contract and the fact that legislators are apparently going to allow him to get away with the charade.

Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…

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On January 27, 2016, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, but one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Over the past week, ratification of the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly has become controversial and Governor Dannel Malloy has suddenly become critical of the agreement despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy own personal representative on the Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

As the debate groups, a headline in the Hartford Courant reads, “GOP Leaders Call for Vote Soon on Controversial UConn Contract.”  The Courant reports;

Len Fasano and House Republican leader Themis Klarides are calling for the full legislature to vote on a controversial contract for nearly 2,000 non-teaching employees at the University of Connecticut.

The contract will automatically go into effect if the legislature takes no action by March 9. But Fasano, other Republicans, and some Democrats say that a vote is needed on the multi-million-dollar contract to set the tone for future union awards. The contract calls for a 3 percent raise in the first year and then 4.5 percent increases for four consecutive years – including an increase in the workweek from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Last week, the CT Mirror article entitled,  Malloy: UConn pay raises don’t reflect new economic reality, explained that Governor Dannel Malloy was critical of the new state employee contract with non-teaching professional staff at the University of Connecticut claiming that it was out of step with current economic conditions.

Speaking at press conference, Malloy said;

“That contract does not fully represent the new economic reality, and I have some concerns about it, but the legislature is in charge on this one.  I think there is an economic reality that people are having a hard time adjusting to.”

[…]

The pending contract for the 1,839 members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association provides for annual raises ranging from 3 to 4.5 percent over the next five years.

[…]

“I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it. I think I am going pretty far by saying that if it’s approved, if it becomes the contract, it will be a contract made in this year that will make all other contracts much more difficult to enter into, or to negotiate. It has implications… It’s going to make the legislature’s job a lot harder if they intend to balance the budget.”

Wait, What? 

Malloy said, “The legislature is in charge on this one.” 

And added, “I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it.”

Is Governor Malloy that naïve or does he really think we are that stupid?

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, the governor serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees.

Malloy appointed 12 of the 21 regular members of the UConn Board AND his Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development are all members of the UConn Board due to the positions they hold in the Malloy administration.

Malloy also appoints a personal representative to the board to attend in his absence.

In the parlance of politics, the governor control the votes.

The truth is that all of Governor Malloy’s appointees to the UConn Board voted in favor of the proposed state employee contract including Board Chairman Larry McHugh, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor.

To even suggest that he had no role in the decision to approve the contract can only mean that he intentionally overlooked the important role he plays on the UConn Board of Trustees or he has decided to lie to the voters of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about whether the State Senate and State House of Representatives will hold a vote on the contract.  According to the latest Courant story,

The House Democrats talked about the UConn contract during their closed-door caucus last week at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, but no final decisions have been announced on whether there will be a vote by the full legislature.

[…]

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who will play a key role in whether there is a formal vote, is concerned about the price of the contract for the UConn Professional Employees Association, known as UCPEA.

“Everyone understands the overall budget challenges we face, and I heard from legislators, both on the committee and not, who expressed understandable concerns, which I share, over the price tag of this contract,” Sharkey said.  “Through no fault of UCPEA, it is apparent that UConn negotiated this without consideration of the economic reality of the state, and their CFO couldn’t say how they are going to pay for it. The truth is it has to either come from taxpayers, more tuition hikes, or layoffs, and that concerns me greatly.”

A longtime political insider said the UConn contract is probably the most important union vote, politically, at the Capitol in the past 10 years.

Republicans say the legislature’s budget-writing committee missed a chance last week to set the fiscal tone by failing to block the contract for professional employees. House members on the committee voted in favor of the contract, which some legislators described as unaffordable and others said should be approved because it was bargained in good faith and approved by the university.

While the House members approved the contract, the Senate members battled to a 6-6 tie as they debated over whether the full legislature should approve the contract.

Sen. Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, voted in favor of the deal because she said that turning it down could eventually cost the state even more money.

[…]

Sen. John Kissel, a longtime lawmaker from Enfield who voted against the contract, said in an interview that the contract could eventually boomerrang on the employees.

“They’re setting themselves up for layoffs,” Kissel told Capitol Watch.  “I think it sets a bad standard because we have 15 others coming up. The other unions would look to that and say there’s precedent.”

Setting aside the arguments for and against this particular contract, the most amazing news of all is Malloy’s attempt to revise the reality surrounding his role in the contract and the fact that legislators are apparently going to allow him to get away with the charade.

ALERT:  Malloy’s Budget Cuts lead to another 23% Tuition Increase at UConn plus 7%

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As a result of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s unrelenting attack on Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, the University of Connecticut Board Of Trustees will be voting at their next meeting to raise tuition by as much as 23 percent for Connecticut students on top of an additional 7 percent increase.

Despite what will be another massive “tax” increase on Connecticut middle class families who are trying to ensure that their children get a college education, the additional tuition funds will not be enough to prevent equally appalling program cuts at UConn.

The new tuition increase comes in addition to the 25 percent jump in tuition and fees that UConn adopted four years ago.  The earlier tuition increase was required to balance UConn’s budget  in response to the record cuts Malloy proposed during his first year in office.

Connecticut’s failure to properly fund its public colleges and universities means that the cost of tuition at the University of Connecticut will have increased by more than $6,000 during Malloy’s tenure, an increase of nearly 50 percent.

As the Hartford Courant is reporting, faced with a $40 million deficit due to the decline in state support, UConn officials are submitting a proposal that would implement a series of tuition increases beginning with a 6.6 percent increase in 2016, and averaging about 7 percent for each of the next three years.

As the Courant explains;

“A key issue for the university has been the state’s shrinking share of the university’s costs. The state’s block grants have grown in recent years, but those increases have not kept pace with the university’s rising costs…

During the past eight years, the state has cut UConn’s funding by approximately $82 million, including $40 million in rescissions.”

When Malloy was sworn in, the State of Connecticut’s appropriation (Block Grant and Fridge Benefits) covered about 18% of UConn’s overall budget.  This year, the level of state support dropped to 16% of UConn’s budget and that reduction does not count the more than $40 million in budget rescissions that Malloy has implemented over the past five years.

Nancy Wyman – It’s time to step up for Academic Freedom and Connecticut’s universities and colleges

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There was a time when Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was considered one of the most important and outspoken advocates for public higher education in Connecticut.

Heralding from the 53rd House District, Nancy Wyman served as a state representative from 1987 to 1995.  In that capacity she was a powerful voice for her constituents who were faculty, staff, students and alumni of the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and Connecticut’s Community and Technical Colleges.

As the Vice Chair and then Chair of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, and a high-ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Nancy Wyman worked tirelessly to make public higher education a priority, including helping to successfully derail an outrageous plan to merge Connecticut’s Community Colleges and State Universities under a new bureaucratic and administrative structure.

Considering Nancy Wyman was one of the few public officials who truly understood, appreciated and supported the fundamental role that public higher education plays in Connecticut, there were high hopes that as Governor Dannel Malloy’s Lt. Governor, Nancy Wyman would help usher in a new era of state support for public universities and colleges.

Instead, she became a silent partner in Malloy’s unprecedented attack on Connecticut’s institutions of higher education.  Malloy’s excessive and record-breaking budget cuts have systematically undermined all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities, resulting in higher tuition and reduced educational opportunities for those who could actually come up with the money to pursue a college degree.

And in what was a truly ironic and tragic moment, Nancy Wyman not only failed to stop Malloy’s inappropriate initiative to merge Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges via the creation of the Board of Regents, but it was Wyman’s phone calls and lobbying of Democratic legislators that actually allowed Malloy to eviscerate the very programs that she had previously worked so hard to support.

Yet as bad as Malloy’s higher education policies have been over the last five years, it has become apparent that the greatest threat to UConn and CSU are the Malloy administration’s recent contract proposals.

Rather than focus on issues of salary and compensation, Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents are seeking contract language and policy changes that would destroy the core aspects of Academic Freedom, shared governance and tenure.

For examples see;

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University

New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty.

While both the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapters at the University of Connecticut and Connecticut State University are speaking out against the Malloy administration’s proposals, the damage that would occur, should these concepts be adopted, would reach well beyond the impact that they would have on the faculty.

These proposals would literally undermine the national reputations that UConn and CSU have been building up over the years and limit what the schools can achieve in the years ahead.

Among Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most important contributions was his observation that,

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

Those of us who have worked with and for Nancy Wyman over the past forty years know the difference she can make when engaged in an issue that she truly cares about and we know she was once a true friend of higher education.

With the very future of Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education hanging in the balance, the time has come for Nancy Wyman to truly and honestly step up and speak out…

Silence is simply not an option.

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

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During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, Connecticut’s state employee unions mobilized their members with the powerful message that a vote for Democrat Dannel Malloy was the only way to prevent Connecticut from having a “Wisconsin Moment,” a reference to Republican Tom Foley’s comments in support of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s unprecedented attack on public employees and their rights.

As the state employee unions wrote in a commentary piece that appeared in a summer 2014 on CT Newsjunkie entitled Union Members Not Interested in ‘Wisconsin Moment’

The last thing we need is a Koch Brothers-funded campaign to transform Connecticut into Walker’s Wisconsin.

AFSCME’s newsletter further explained,

“Preventing a “Wisconsin moment” from taking place in Connecticut was the prevailing theme of the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s 10th biennial political convention that took place June 16-17 in New Haven.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders electrified the more than 300 union delegates to the convention with his keynote address on June 16. “We can’t afford Connecticut to become another Wisconsin.”

[…]

Hours after Saunders’ speech, Gov. Malloy declared “We’re going to have a ‘Connecticut moment!’” in contrast to Republican endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s call last year for a “Wisconsin moment.”

In response, Connecticut’s state employees gave Malloy the votes he needed to stay in the Governor’s Office for a second term.

Now, a year later, faculty at the University of Connecticut (UConn) and Connecticut State University (CSU-Board of Regents) have become prime targets in the Malloy Administration’s attempt to push through some of the very policy changes that have been championed by the appropriately vilified Scott Walker.

The Malloy administration’s proposals to remove shared academic governance at the University of Connecticut and destroy tenure protections at Connecticut State Universities by repealing the requirement of declaring financial exigency prior to laying off tenured faculty are exactly the policy outcomes contained in Wisconsin Act 55, which Scott Walker signed into law this past July. More

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