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Battle Rages Over Higher Ed Raises

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Board of Regents President Robert Kennedy. Photo from Board of Regents web site.

Board of Regents President Robert Kennedy. Photo from Board of Regents web site.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Outrage over unauthorized pay raises for Connecticut education staff members deepened Thursday with the state House Republican leader calling for the Board of Regents president to step down and the Democratic governor saying credibility must be restored “as quickly as possible.”

Robert A. Kennedy, president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, said this week he made a mistake when he awarded raises of up to $48,000 to 21 staff members this year without the approval or knowledge of an oversight board. He said he was suspending the raises.

House Republican Leader Larry Cafero said Kennedy should resign over the secret pay hikes totaling $250,000 and a recently disclosed six-week leave that Kennedy took at his Minnesota vacation home last summer.

“Given the developments over the last two weeks, I believe it is in the best interests of the thousands of students that rely on our state’s higher education system, and those who are responsible to taxpayers for how it is administered, that President Kennedy tender his resignation,” Cafero said.

Kennedy, the former president of the University of Maine, was chosen by Malloy in August 2011 to lead the newly formed higher education system. The board oversees 17 Connecticut colleges and universities.

Among the staff members who received raises was the board’s executive vice president, Michael Meotti, who agreed to forgo his $48,000 raise earlier this week.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the Board of Regents needs to review what he called “serious problems” and take appropriate steps.

“The credibility of the central office has been damaged, and it needs to be restored as quickly as possible,” the governor said.

Board of Regents Chairman Lewis Robinson said the board has been troubled by Kennedy’s actions and his failure to share information with them. He said the board will be reviewing Kennedy’s judgment and performance.

Malloy says the week’s developments have overshadowed accomplishments from the last year including an office consolidation that has saved millions and made money available for new faculty positions.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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