Michael Meotti, executive vice president of the Board of Regents, wasn’t the only education administrator to get a raise this summer. Twenty-one other executives also received significant pay increases from Board of Regents President Robert Kennedy.
The raises ranged from as low as $5,000 to as much as $48,000 for people such as Eastern Connecticut State University President Elsa Nunez and Norwalk Community College President David Levinson. The $48,000 pay hikes are on top of Nunez’s and Levinson’s salaries of $320,480 and $204,188 respectively. They received the raises when they were named vice presidents of the regents overseeing the former Connecticut State University System and the Community College System.
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The raises reflected increased and consolidated responsibilities that go along with their new job titles.
For instance, Colleen Flanagan Johnson was the director of public affairs and marketing for the Board of Regents, but she accepted additional duties as chief of staff along with the $20,000 increase in salary. Her salary went from $130,000 to $150,000, which means she’s now making as much as her former boss, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, Board of Regents Chair Lewis Robinson and Kennedy putting out a statement saying Meotti, who was expected to receive a $47,820 pay increase, “has chosen to forgo his raise in salary.“ None of the other 21 who received pay increases and increased responsibilities have offered to give up their raises, which will now be reviewed by the 15-member board.
The unfolding story of the salary increases at a time when the state budget deficit is growing has lawmakers contemplating their next move. If House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero has his way, the legislature’s Higher Education Committee would have a public hearing on the matter.
“What, exactly, is going on here?” Cafero said in this letter to Sen. Beth Bye. “I do not believe the legislature envisioned these developments when it approved higher education ‘reforms’ more than a year ago. The apparent breakdown in oversight of higher education, and the lack of transparency in running these systems, are perhaps most disturbing.”
Bye, who was concerned about the “ill-timed” raises, said she’s in the process of gathering the facts along with her co-chair Rep. Roberta Willis, and the ranking Republican members of the Higher Education Committee. Once she has the information the committee leadership will decide whether to hold a public hearing, or what other action they should take.
Most of the raises were approved by Kennedy over the summer. All have gone into effect, but the Board of Regents will now review them and could decide to eliminate them, reduce them, or keep them in place.
Bye said Kennedy never had the authority to order the raises under the legislation, and has admitted his mistake.
The Board of Regents oversees the state’s four regional colleges, 12 community colleges, and Charter Oak State College. The creation of the board stemmed from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desire to consolidate the state’s colleges and eliminate $5.5 million in administrative costs in the process.