(Updated 7:16 p.m.) Last week was the first time Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration learned of the retirement of Marc Herzog, who served as chancellor to the Connecticut Community Colleges for 11 years after serving 15 years as deputy chancellor.
What they didn’t know was that he was re-hired as a temporary worker retiree, collecting a monthly pension of $14,000 and a paycheck that will amount to $80,000 if he stays on for the full 120 day contract extension. That’s about $667 per day.
Mark Ojakian, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said Monday that based on Herzog’s June 3 retirement letter it seemed like he would be retiring July 1, when he had actually already retired. Ojakian, who worked for six years in the Department of Higher Education, said he was shocked at the lack of communication.
Herzog retired on May 31 and was then rehired by the Connecticut Community-Technical Colleges board and “no one thought to tell the governor’s office,” Ojakian said.
“Something like this should never be allowed to happen, and it’s exactly the reason why Gov. Malloy proposed and the legislature passed his plan to reorganize the higher education system, putting the emphasis on student learning in the classroom, as opposed to bloated and inappropriate compensation for executive level employees,“ Roy Occhiogrosso, senior communications adviser, said in a statement.
“It’s unconscionable, and the Governor strongly urges the Board to reconsider this misguided decision.”
The board of the Community-Technical Colleges met Monday, but discussion of Herzog’s return was not part of the discussion. Herzog said he was willing to stay on during the transition in his June 3 resignation letter.
Part of the reason Herzog decided to retire was the reorganization of the 12 community colleges and four regional universities. The reduction of retirement benefits offered by the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition’s tentative agreement was also mentioned in the letter.
“The Board of Trustees, as gubernatorial appointees, has the responsibility to ensure consistent and expert leadership for the Community College System. The retirement of the Chancellor on May 31 prompted a reappointment to extend from June 1 to July 1 to ensure continuity of leadership and operations,” a statement from the board reads. “On July 1, 2011 when a new Board of Regents goes into effect according to recent legislation, it is anticipated that the Governor will appoint a new head for the Board of Regents who will then recommend new leadership for both the Community College System and the Connecticut State University system. As of today, no information has been communicated on these important leadership positions. The Board of Trustees awaits the Governor’s decisions on these positions, and until that time acted responsibly, through its Chair, to provide leadership and oversight for the community colleges.”
Assistant Chancellor Mary Anne Cox said, it was necessary to keep Herzog on to ensure the continuity of services to the community college system, as they await news of the governor’s appointment of a new board of regents.
“The Board awaits the Governor’s decisions on these important leadership positions and trusts that these new leaders will build on the strong foundation provided by the educational leaders who have made opportunity and student success the hallmarks of Connecticut’s Community Colleges since our founding in 1965,” Community College Board Chairwoman Louise Berry said in a statement Monday.
Ojakian said the board’s decision to re-hire Herzog at a time when other state employees are being asked to take a two year wage freeze and give up benefits in the name of shared sacrifice “is just unconscionable.”
Matt O’Connor, spokesman for the State Bargaining Agent Coalition, said there was an expectation that under Malloy this sort of practice would be brought to a halt.
“It’s discouraging to hear when employees, who make far less money, are being asked to sacrifice,” O’Connor said.
But Malloy’s own executive order, signed the same day he was sworn into office in January, allows the state to re-hire state employees for 120 days at a time. The executive order extended one signed by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2009.
Click here to read our previous report about his retirement announcement.