(Updated 2:41 p.m.) One of the top officials at the Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s four regional colleges, 12 community colleges, and the Charter Oak State College, will forfeit a $47,820 wage increase after it was reported by the CTMirror.
In a press release Tuesday morning, Board of Regents Chairman Lewis J. Robinson, and President Robert A. Kennedy issued a statement saying its executive vice president Michael Meotti, “has chosen to forgo his raise in salary.“
Meotti’s salary was expected to jump 27 percent from $184,424 to $232,244, according to a spreadsheet provided by the Board of Regents.
Asked if she thought the bump in pay would be given back if the media hadn’t reported its, Sen. Beth Bye, co-chairwoman of the legislature’s High Education Committee, said “no.”
Bye was in the midst of drafting a letter to the Board of Regents to admonish them for “using such poor judgment” when the statement was emailed.
“I believe these increases are ill-timed and run contrary to the stated goals of the reorganization of the higher education system in our state,” Bye wrote.
As part of the letter Bye requested the complete salary and benefit history for all members of the Board of Regents, their executive staff, and spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan Johnson. She also requested all correspondence related to any salary changes dating back to Aug. 1.
It was initially unclear exactly who approved the raise, but Johnson sought to offer some clarification.
“In this case, President Kennedy approved the salary adjustments and the Board of Regents, as stated earlier today, will review and determine the appropriateness of all personnel salary adjustments that were made on the basis of additional duties, responsibilities, and roles assigned resulting from the consolidation,” Johnson said. “As the Board of Regents is a new entity, it will establish a formal process to ensure that these and other actions taken are within the context of the existing personnel policies of the former boards.”
Bye said the legislature acted in good faith on consolidation believing this was going to save administrative costs and get more of the money and resources into the classrooms.
The impetus for the consolidation and creation of the 15-member Board of Regents came out of the largesse of the community college and Connecticut State University systems.
“We were trying to usher in an era of both transparency, accountability, and make sure savings were really to the students,” Bye said.
The news of Meotti’s wage increase came at a time when the state’s higher education system has been going through a number of changes.
One of the changes involved how the schools handle remedial classes, but it’s more than that, Bye said.
She said all the community college presidents used to report to a different leader, there’s been a change in leadership, and you have policymakers and a new administration requiring change.
“Change is hard,” Bye said echoing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s favorite saying.
She said the community college presidents fought the consolidation very hard, which is why there may have been some misunderstandings about whether they were receiving buyout offers last week.
According to the Journal Inquirer, Gena Glickman, president of Manchester Community College, sent a message to administrators at her school, saying the board had offered her and the other community college presidents a “buyout.” In that same news report Meotti said there was never any buyout for the college presidents.
But if it wasn’t clear before, Lewis and Kennedy wanted to make it clear in their statement Tuesday.
“Let us be clear, too, that the presidents who may not support the Board of Regents’ agenda should not have their commitment, motives and dedication questioned,“ the two said in a statement. “Change is difficult and our agenda – meeting the needs of every student in Connecticut through the consolidation of governance structures, a reform of remedial education and the implementation of a new transfer and articulation policy to name a few – may not be for everyone.”
If any of the 17 presidents choose to depart from the Board of Regents they will do so “under the existing personnel policies in the community college system.”
Those who choose to stay will not be “automatically” terminated, but will be subjected to a performance review. Also, “none of the community college presidential positions will be eliminated, merged or consolidated.”