Both the president and vice-president for higher education in Connecticut resigned on Friday in light of criticism over to staffers.
“The issues with which we’ve dealt over the past few days have become a distraction to that important work, and, as an educator all my life, the most important thing to me is the success and support of our students,” President Robert Kennedy said in a written statement. “For that reason, I believe my resignation will allow the critical issues of the Board and its agenda to be addressed in a different light than they might otherwise be.
After the Connecticut Mirror exposed $250,000 in raises to his staffers – including a $48,000 raise to one executive – Kennedy announced that he would suspend the raises.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who appointed Kennedy to the Board of Regents for Higher Education, said the decision to resign “was the right one.”
“It’s unfortunate that the events of the past week have damaged the credibility of the central office, but they have,” he said in a written statement. “And that credibility needs to be restored as quickly as possible.”
Lewis Robinson, the chairman of the Board of Regents, said that the group would change policies to ensure that there isn’t a repeat situation of the lucrative raises.
“The Board of Regents is focused on pushing the kind of change agenda that, guided by strong leadership and clear policy and process, will ensure our students are better prepared to enter the job market,” Robinson said.
The Board of immediately voted to recommend Philip E. Austin to Malloy as interim president of the board, Austin previously served as the president of the University of Connecticut from 1996 through 2007, and again as interim president in 2010 and 2011. Austin will serve as interim president until a permanent president is selected.
Robinson and Austin then announced that Executive Vice President Michael P. Meotti has chosen to step down from his position at the central office.
“Mike’s decision to leave the Board of Regents is one that, while unfortunate because of his years of higher education and public policy experience, will help us move forward from the events of the past few days to focus on the critical issues at hand – moving an aggressive change agenda to ensure the success and the support of our students. We both thank Mike for his work in Connecticut’s higher education community and wish him well,” said Robinson and Austin.