The Democratic co-chairs and Republican ranking members of the legislature’s Higher Education and Employment Advance Committee told the chairman and vice chairman of the Board of Regents that they believe President Robert Kennedy should resign his position.
Sen. Beth Bye, co-chairwoman of the Higher Education and Employment Committee, said the reform agenda they’ve worked hard to implement has been overshadowed by Kennedy’s decision to give 22 staffers more than $260,000 in raises. One of the employees has decided to forego his raise, while the rest were suspended by Kennedy Wednesday.
“We don’t see how with the damage that’s been done in this case that that reform agenda can be carried through,” Bye said. “At this point, it’s damaging to the students if that system doesn’t move forward.”
Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said they are calling for Kennedy’s resignation and a statement of no confidence because there is a statute and law in place that says these wage increases should have been brought before the 15 member Board of Regents for approval.
She said there seems to be an overall failure of communication between the president and the Board of Regents.
Bye said the Board of Regents are going to create an ad hoc committee as soon as next week to look into what they have to do to “legally” get rid of Kennedy.
The committee will be appointed this week and the board will address it at its Oct. 18 meeting.
The board is also expected to address the raises which were suspended by Kennedy Thursday and the issues regarding the turmoil between the central administration and the community college presidents who felt pressured to leave their jobs.
The lawmakers join Republican legislative leadership in calling on Kennedy to resign.
Boucher said she would expect someone with such a long history in academic leadership to know to run these types of decisions past his board first.
Kennedy was president of the University of Maine before being appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as president of the Board of Regents last year.
“I was incredulous that these decisions were made and handled in the manner they were by someone who is an experienced person in higher education,” Rep. Roberta Willis said at the hastily called press conference.
It’s unclear exactly how the Board of Regents will handle the situation, but Lewis Robinson, its chairman put out a statement earlier in the day indicating swift action will be taken.
“The Board, and I, personally, have been greatly troubled with the actions that have been taken by and the lack of information shared with the Board of Regents by President Kennedy,” Robinson said Thursday. “As I said yesterday, the board will be reviewing his judgment exercised in these matters, as well as his performance. Based on our findings, we will take the appropriate action.”
Aside from the raises the Board of Regents is being asked by lawmakers to look into the compensation package for the president, who receives a base salary of $340,000 and six weeks of “professional development,” which Kennedy interpreted a little differently than most.
Kennedy said his six weeks were spent at his second home in Minnesota where he was “working remotely,” when a majority of the raises were doled out.