Robert Kennedy, the president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education for the state colleges and universities system, and Micheal Meotti, the Board's vice president, have resigned amid a flap over unauthorized pay raises.
Gov. Dannel Malloy on Thursday said the credibility of the central office has been damaged by the ordeal.
“Bob’s decision is the right one," Malloy said in a statement on Friday morning.
“It’s unfortunate that the events of the past week have damaged the credibility of the central office, but they have," Malloy said. "And that credibility needs to be restored as quickly as possible. As I said yesterday, it is now time for the Board to step in and take whatever actions are necessary to restore confidence and credibility in the central office.”
Kennedy said this week he made a mistake when he awarded raises of up to $48,000 to 21 staff members earlier this year without the approval or knowledge of an oversight board. He said he was suspending the raises.
Malloy said on Thursday that the board needs to conduct a review of what he calls "serious problems" and take appropriate steps.
House Republican Leader Larry Cafero on Thursday called for Kennedy to step down.
“It is unfortunate that President Kennedy’s brief tenure had to end this way but it is in the best interests of the higher education system and everyone else involved. I applaud Mr. Kennedy for recognizing the dire nature of the developments of the last few weeks," Cafero said in a statement.
He urged for a full inquiry by the Higher Education Committee.
"Two college presidents have stated publicly that their future employment was directly linked to the Oct. 31 deadline to respond to offers of and early buy-out," Cafero said.
Cafero also cited reports that Kennedy spent six weeks away from his office last summer at his Minnesota vacation home.
Sen. Beth Bye, Senate Chairman of the legislature's Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, said she is proud of the accomplishments that the Board of Regents has achieved in the past year, from making transfers between colleges easier to breaking ground on three new community college manufacturing centers to beginning the process of changing the way we deliver remedial coursework.
“Unfortunately, Dr. Kennedy’s recent missteps have become too much of a distraction to our students and on our campuses. Nothing should detract the Board of Regents and its central office from making ongoing, positive, daily progress toward our goal of restructuring Connecticut’s higher education system to be more efficient, effective and affordable," Bye said.
“I now look forward to the Board of Regents establishing guidelines and procedures to ensure that Dr. Kennedy’s errors are not repeated, and that our ongoing higher education reorganization for the betterment of students proceeds in a timely and efficient manner,” Bye said.
CTNewsjunkie reports that Kennedy, who makes a base salary of $340,000, has a contract that provides six weeks of “professional development,” but that Kennedy admitted that he was “working remotely” for the six weeks.
Malloy said that there have been many accomplishments at the Board over the last year.
"Bob deserves a lot of credit for those accomplishments. He's a smart, decent, thoughtful individual who has spent many years working to improve education systems. Our state universities, community and technical colleges are better off for Bob having spent the last year here in Connecticut, and I thank him for his service," Malloy said.